By Conal Morrison
Well, the new year celebrations have been and gone, and now it’s time to get stuck into those resolutions! Mine? Growing more of my own food. Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of space where I live, but I do have a balcony and a bit of a green thumb.
For those of you who are looking to grow plants on your balcony, be they flowers or food, I’ve put together five different balcony garden ideas so you can join me on what I hope will be a fun and rewarding journey.
An Upcycled Garden
Upcycling is a really cool way to make your garden that little bit ‘greener’, and all you need to make it work is a little creativity! The act of upcycling is essentially to reuse old or forgotten objects that otherwise might be thrown out as rubbish, as a tool or feature object. They can make for some very cool and unique garden designs.
I have a friend who reused a wooden crate as a bed for carrots! If you have any old bits and bobs lying around, maybe you can upcycle them for your next gardening project. Old buckets, boxes and pottery make great plant holders.
A Vertical Garden
Vertical gardens can look very cool and are a brilliant space saver if done right. They allow you to grow a myriad of herbs or a dozen different succulents without taking up half your balcony space. Whatever you want to grow, the dirt is your oyster, so to speak. You can also create hanging gardens if your balcony has a roof. However, you may be a little limited in what plants or how many plants you can hang vertically, depending on how secure your anchor is. But this can be another really cool way to grow herbs or smaller plants by hanging them in their pots.
Alternatively, you can get hanging plants such as Fuschias, Lobelias or even Jasmine and grow them, so they create a curtain, giving you the bonus of some added privacy on your balcony!
A Secret Garden
If you want to catch some sun without also catching the eyes of passersby or your neighbours, then try growing some plants that hang, some high growing plants and bushes or even some small fruit trees. You can try a similar approach to that of a vertical garden to create a screen for the hanging plants.
For the ground layer, you can use a row of thicker plants right against the railing and use higher pots so that your plants naturally sit higher up. Alternatively, you can grow ivy along your fence, something that I think creates a beautiful aesthetic and sets the space’s tone.
Traditional Japanese Style Balcony Garden
While I was scrolling through Pinterest looking for some gardening inspo, I stumbled across some really cool traditional Japanese balcony gardens. The designs were so beautifully done and such a creative use of space that I just had to include them here. This garden style emphasises reflecting mother nature itself and being as close to natural as possible.
Because of this, less aggressive plants are used, and there are usually multiple elements within the garden aside from the greenery. Objects such as stones, placed in shapes you would see form naturally, such as arches or semicircles, are used to bring balance. Where possible, water is used, either as a small waterfall, stream, or pond. A bright patch of gravel can also be used in the place of water if necessary.
Colourful flowers are rarely used in a Japanese garden, and if they are, it’s very sparingly to give one small splash of colour. The focus on this style of garden is to be as natural as possible and bring focus to nature as a whole, mainly using evergreen plants.
Bring The Indoors Out
Reclaim your balcony as part of your house. Mix plants along your wall or hang off your railings and put a small coffee table outside with a few chairs. Create a space that would definitely be called cottagecore and live in it!
Plant some evergreens so you’ll have at least a couple of flourishing plants all year round, and give it a few splashes of colour with marigolds, dahlias, or whatever else you like. Before you know it, you’ve built yourself the perfect spot to have breakfast, read a book, or watch the sunset with your significant other.
There you have it, lads and ladies, some balcony garden ideas that hopefully will inspire you to have a go at gardening yourselves. I personally will be going for a blend of the vertical and secret gardens but sneaking in vegetable and fruit plants wherever I can. If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry; It comes with practice!