How to Create a Garden on Your Balcony in 4 Easy Steps

Because spring has sprung and waits for no one

A balcony at a home in Germany.Photo: Getty Images

Designing a green space on your balcony or terrace does not only enhance your wellbeing by bringing nature to your doorstep, but it also adds an element of beauty that can provide fresh ingredients for your kitchen. As there’s no natural soil on a balcony, this exercise goes hand-in-hand with any potted plants you might want to add to your indoor space while you are at the garden center. 

There’s a Chinese proverb that reads, “Life begins the day you start a garden.” As life begins anew with the spring equinox, AD spoke to three experts about how to build a garden on a balcony of your own in four simple steps.

Conduct some initial research and examine your space

Before you get started, double check your building’s rules to make sure you’re actually allowed to install trellises in your space. It’s worth finding out if you’re permitted to paint the sidewalls of your balcony as well. From there, figure out what you can grow according to your local climate. This can be easily done by logging your zip code into the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Next, check which plants are best suited to your location as every balcony has slightly different challenges to consider. For example, is your space in the full sun all day? Is it open to the elements and gets windy and cold? Depending on the exposure to the elements, you have to slightly adjust which plants you can grow.

After conducting some research, the real fun can begin—designing and planting. Interior and garden designer and author Jane Cumberbatch suggests using your balcony as part of your living space: “However small, it’s about treating your outside space as if it’s an extension of your interior no matter how many floors above ground level. Folding chairs and a table to eat and drink at, or while away an afternoon with a book, are essential features.”

Cumberbatch recommends painting your balcony in a sludgy garden green for a back-to-nature or cottage garden look, or simply white for a more modern feel. She adds, “Think also how you might use the walls or railings as supports for climbers such as a fragrant jasmine or honeysuckle.”

Figure out what to plant

You’ll want to decide what it is you are after: Is it color? Greenery? Or perhaps an outdoor larder for fresh ingredients? Josh Kirschenbaum, vegetable accounts manager from PanAmerican Seed suggests that “if you like flower-filled containers but have no sun to speak of, Impatiens are your plant. They have great flower coverage and come in pink, violet, and red hues, along with white for great contrast. Or try a “Shangri-La” Philodendron, which has large split-leaf branches with a tropical appearance, making your balcony feel like a true getaway.” Try these varieties for a splash of verdant beauty.

Get ahold of the right materials

Scouring flea markets for interesting items that might double as planters or extend your indoor design scheme to your outdoor space is always a good idea. Head to garden centers and home decor stores for inspiration, and choose pots and planters—maybe an antique ladder as a shelf alternative—and an overall color scheme. As Kirschenbaum advises, “The container size should be large and sturdy enough to hold enough soil volume for the plant and its root system. Plus, larger containers will retain more moisture, and containers always need more watering than plants grown in the ground.”

Do your bit for the environment

Keeping the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy in mind, consider dedicating a corner of your kitchen or outdoor space to composting. “Composting allows you to feed house plants and balcony containers, reduces household waste, and saves you a trip to the dumpster,” Gail Pabst from the National Garden Bureau says.” Something like this Ceramic Compost Crock is perfect for collection.”

By Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey for AD©

Source: How to Create a Balcony Garden in 4 Easy Steps | Architectural Digest | Architectural Digest