How to start a small balcony garden

Are you thinking to create your own balcony garden? Here, let us find out how to start a small balcony garden?

Modernization and globalization have led to migration over the years and today about seventy percent of the population live in apartments or condos. The concise layout of smaller apartments has made it possible for cities to accommodate the ever-growing population.

Even though cities are convenient in terms of making a living and getting quality education is it possible to have your private green space to unwind? Yes, it is by building a small balcony garden in your apartment which can easily be customized according to your requirements. 

Useable space available to set up a balcony garden in smaller apartments can range from the narrow front or side margins, a walk-in rectangular balcony, a common landing area for 2 or more houses, or a small corner or a parapet outside a window.

With a little effort, all these spaces can be transformed into a beautiful balcony garden.

How to start a small balcony garden

This blog aims at helping apartment or condo owners who have a small balcony to transform it into a beautiful balcony garden by being mindful of a few things:

Small Balcony Garden
Small Balcony Garden

Step-1: Planning and prioritizing

For previous generations having a few earthen or plastic pots placed randomly in their balconies or kitchen window growing herbs or flowers was home gardening at its best. But in today’s day and age, it’s all about aesthetics, with a hint of utility. 

The look and feel of the place are as important as what it produces. Hence the idea of balcony gardening came into the picture. Here we combine a beautiful looking green space where you can unwind after a busy day in the office or school with a space to nurture your favorite herbs and flowers

To achieve these results, it is imperative to primarily survey the area. Consider the space available, you might have two or more possible options to set up your balcony garden, weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Before zeroing down on the perfect location ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is the place strong enough to hold a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10-12 pots? 
  • Is it secure to place pots or is there a possibility of slippage?
  • Is there proper drainage? 
  • Will water the plants hamper anyone? 
  • Does your society permit balcony gardening?

These questions will help you decide the ideal location for your garden. After that is out of the way you can begin the balcony gardening process where the aim is to try maximizing the use of space and minimizing the clutter. This takes us to the second stage.

Also, check out Top 20 Apartment Balcony Gardening Ideas.

Step-2: Designing

The designing process begins with assessing the space available and then deciding what can be done there. Smart work is always better than hard work, hence the design of your balcony garden needs to fit these 3 important criteria.

Also, check, 10 best plants for sunny balcony garden

Step-3: Economical

Spending too much on a balcony garden is not wise. Start building the garden with what u have and buy only what is absolutely necessary. 

Nowadays there are DIY options for almost everything for example instead of buying a watering can you could upscale bottles or containers with a handle, simply puncher a few holes on the cap, add a dash of color to make it look funky, and there you go your very own watering can.

Planters can be made out of containers that are not being used. You could also use pots and pans that have served their time in the kitchen and are of no use anymore. Old strings could be used to hang planters to create your hanging masterpiece.

Step-4: Space optimization

For a small balcony garden space is crucial. Instead of filling the space, you have with pots and other garden décor opt for pots that you can stack one over the other or those that hang from the ceiling.

In terms of a sitting space instead of investing in extra chairs and tables opt for floor pillows, mats or bean bags this will not only add to the overall look and feel but will also save space.

If you do need a table you could consider the wall-mounted foldable kind that can be put away when not in use. Another option is to double planter stands as storage. 

Step-5: Minimalism

In a small space, less is always more. The more you put into your balcony garden the more cluttered it will be. Clutter not only makes the place appear smaller and unorganised; it also makes it increasingly difficult to maintain and clean.

Hence the key to a beautiful balcony garden is minimalism. 

After you plan and design a balcony garden there is a question that comes to the minds of almost all small balcony garden owners: How to make a small garden look bigger? 

To answer just that we have put together a few tricks you could try

Step-6: Add Mirrors

To create an illusion of space, incorporating mirrors in a small balcony garden is genius. You could mount it on one of the walls, this is a good trick to create an impression of a larger space.

The only area of caution, however, is if you have an open balcony where birds can hurt themselves looking at their reflection or if you have children at home, else this is the best trick in the books.

Step-7: Attention to the colour scheme

The colour scheme used through the garden is key if you want to make a small balcony garden look bigger. Choose pots and planters of a similar colour.

With the colours used, pay heed to the overall theme of the garden if you are incorporating a rustic look stick to it, don’t mix and match too many themes in the garden it will only look haphazard. 

Step-8: Plant arrangement 

The manner in which plants are arranged plays a role in how spacious the balcony garden looks. Too many bushes make it look crowded in the same way taller plants covering the shorter ones look shabby. For optimal results arrange the taller ones along the walls with a layer of smaller plants in the front. 

For a more expansive look, use wall-mounted pot arrangements, utilise the window railing and grills or hang pots and planters from brackets in walls or the ceiling. 

Step-9: Lighting

Lighting plays an important role in creating the perfect setting you could opt for a string of fairy lights or lanterns; you could also pick bright LEDs that make your small garden look brighter and bigger 

At the very onset, the article classified balcony spaces, saying that there are a few options available in terms of the space available to start a small balcony garden. Here are a few designs based on these spaces. 

A balcony garden created on narrow front or side margins

Narrow margins are perfect for pots hanging from the beam above or on the window grills. Creepers are another option for these spaces. They climb up grills and can be used to grow veggies or flowers depending on your preference. 

As these spaces are generally narrow and don’t have a protective barrier for pots, placing pots on them could be risky.

While caring for creepers be careful about keeping them away from the building wall as their roots could ruin the paint and in the long run affect the overall structure. 

How to start a small balcony garden
How to start a small balcony garden

Building a garden on a parapet outside a window

Like narrow margins, these might or might not have a barricade for pots. As this may vary from one building to another please survey the parapet before placing planters. 

Considering they do, you could place smaller pots with tall plants, you could also erect pillars/rods that can be used for climbers. Fairy lights will add to the beauty of the place.

A small bird’s feeding area along with a birdhouse for small birds will be a good addition to this type of apartment balcony garden.

Parapets are a good place to either read a book or gaze into a starry night sky provided you have the luxury of doing so. If you do, investing in floor mats or cushions and bolsters is a good idea.

These are better than tables and chairs that are restrictive and add to the clutter. These will make your small balcony garden look spacious and comfortable.

A common landing area for 2 or more house used to create a balcony garden

Building a balcony garden in a common landing can get a little complicated as it is not completely private. Secondly, u need to be mindful of the other flat owners as well. 

You could start by placing a few pots and then adding to the décor one step at a time. In such spaces, a sitting arrangement can be created with a cover of plants if the place is big enough. 

If not, you could place a few pots against the wall and add a few layers by using pots that attach to grills or the balcony railing. Adding layers will make your garden look bigger, on the other hand, they are easy to maintain. 

In terms of lighting, lanterns are a good option as they are dim enough for u to have your private time and at the same time bright enough to enjoy a cup of coffee.

A small balcony garden in a walk-in rectangular balcony

This type of balcony is the most common. As you have more space, it is easier to set up an apartment balcony garden but at the same time, it is easier for it to get cluttered. Hence it is important to plan the space beforehand.

With proper planning, upscaling and creativity you can create a beautiful balcony garden in the limited space. 

There are a lot of options available for example 

  • Traditional in-ground gardening – where just like the name sounds, it is one of the traditional methods of gardening. For balconies, the usual setup has been customized a little bit. Here, the soil is directly kept on the ground and a boundary like a fence is created all around to keep the soil at a particular level. Plants are then planted directly in the soil. This gives enough space for the plants to grow to their full potential. This method reduces the number of pots hence leaving room for either storage or a sitting area. 
  • Vertical gardeningVertical gardening method uses the walls as a planting space. In this, a ranch-style bed is designed with enough spaces in between the wooden planks to plant the herbs or other plants without crowding the area. You could also use pots that are designed to be mounted on the wall. As this method uses only the wall you have the entire garden to design as required.
  • Raised garden bed plants – here you have planters on a table or elevation. This makes it easier to water and at the same time lets, you use the space under the planters for storage.
  • Layering – In this method, you layer planters using stands available in the market or those made from old tables or cabinets. This reduces the number of pots around and hence creating an illusion of a bigger garden.

All these styles can be mixed and matched according to your convenience. On the other hand, as this type of apartment balcony garden is more private as compared to the others you can have a sitting area. Either has a small table with chairs or a floor pillow.

Keep in mind that the pillow will have to be kept away after use as there are chances of it getting wet due to spillovers.

You can play around with the lights as well as fairy lights make the place look like a dream coupled with a few LED bulbs that make your space look bigger and brighter.

You could also use pebbles and small stones to give your garden a little definition. This will add to the beauty of the place.

start a small balcony garden
Start a small balcony garden

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Remember gardening is not about trying hard to make the place as green as possible. Cramming too many ‘balcony garden features’ into a small space results in disordered, cluttered chaos. The key to getting it right is knowing your space and planning well. To build a small balcony garden all you need is creativity and mindfulness. Happy gardening!