Gardening is not a hobby reserved only for people who own houses and land. With the popularity of container gardening, apartment and condominium dwellers with balconies or small patios can create colorful flower gardens or fragrant herb gardens in their outdoor living areas too.
Outdoor furniture and garden product sources from this inspiration board are listed below.
Ideas & Tips for Creating A Balcony Garden
Here are a few tips and ideas for turning your balcony or small patio into a garden room that functions equally well for relaxation and the pursuit of gardening.
1. Divide your space into two functional areas – one area for sitting, relaxing or dining al fresco, the other area becomes a planting and growing zone. Define the seating space with an indoor / outdoor mat or area rug, then furnish it with a small scale bistro set – a folding table and two folding chairs. A potting bench opposite the seating area defines the planting /growing zone, provides a work space, plant display area and storage for a gardener’s essential hand tools.
2. Use plant pots in varying heights, shapes and sizes for visual interest. I like to use plant pots that are all of the same material, such as simple galvanized metal.
3. Introduce vibrant colors with your flowers and greenery.
4. Plant saucers with casters allow you to easily move and turn large planter pots to make sure all of the plants inside the planters get equal exposure to the sun.
Balcony Garden Plan / Design
These are two views of a balcony garden plan / design created with Plan3D.
The balcony design is kept clean and uncluttered with minimal furnishings and a collection of neatly planted boxes and containers.
Selecting Flowers, Herbs & Other Garden Plants
Just as you would for a regular garden plot, choose plant materials that are suited to the conditions offered by your balcony. The important factors to consider are:
- Sun Exposure
- Plant Height
- Plant Spread
- Plant Spacing
You will be providing the appropriate soil type and watering plants based on their individual requirements.
Annuals or Perennials?
Planting annuals gives you the option of starting with a clean slate each year or if you’ve become attached to some favorites, there are many annuals that can be brought indoors for over-wintering.
Alternatively, you may want to fill your planters with perennials and treat them as annuals – letting them die down at the end of the growing season. Some perennials, shrubs and evergreens can be overwintered outdoors in containers provided that they are sufficiently protected from the environment. Other tender perennials can be brought indoors and used as house plants.
Featured Products & Sources
- Sweet Potato Vine
- Gerbera Daisies
- Radius Garden Tools – Ace Hardware
- Huson plant pot – Ikea
- Sean Conway Wood Potting Bench – look for it under Lawn & Garden Accessories at Target.com
- Beta Watering Can – Ikea
- Varen tray with 6 plant pots – Ikea
- Beta Plant Glide (saucer on casters) – Ikea
- Folding Bistro Table – Pottery Barn
- Folding Chairs -Pottery Barn
- Shag Indoor/Outdoor Mats by Chilewich – Lumen Light & Living
Anyone who does flower gardening, herb gardening or vegetable gardening on their balcony will appreciate the additional planting space provided by window boxes or flower boxes.
In response to a reader’s comment in an earlier post (Balcony / Small Patio = Outdoor Room) about using window boxes on his balcony railing, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned about window boxes and what to use for securing them to a railing.
Window Box Gardening
I’d never really given much thought to window boxes until I started researching for this post. One of the sites I discovered while digging around was Hooks & Lattice. Not only did they prove to be an excellent source for railing brackets and window boxes, but they also offer interesting information about the various window boxes available.
Isn’t it amazing what pops up when you google a topic? That’s exactly how I stumbled onto Windowbox – a website that specializes in window boxes and various other types of container gardening. Then of course there is Flower Framers. You’ve heard of the joy of cooking? Yep, you guessed it, Flower Framers is all about the joy of window box gardening.
The first window box picture from above and this one directly below are courtesy of Plow & Hearth. They have a good selection of window boxes, as well as self-watering deck railing planters.
Types of Railing Brackets
The shape and size of the balcony railing will often determine the type of bracket to use. The two bracket examples shown below are from Hooks & Lattice, but I was able to locate similar railing brackets in a few different places.
Railing brackets can accommodate rectangular or round planters. This round planter bracket is from Aubuchon Hardware.
Round planters may work well in certain instances, however, for the balcony gardener who wants to get maximum use from a small outdoor area, I think that a row of rectangular planters would provide more square footage of gardening space. This picture from Flower Framers beautifully illustrates a series of railing-mounted planters.
Plow & Hearth sells a railing bracket which can be used with any rectangular flower box up to 8″ deep. The arms that hook over the balcony railing can be adjusted for a snug fit.
Different bracket designs allow you the option of hanging your planters below the balcony railing, as shown above, or in-line with the balcony railing by using a bracket design like this one below.
The railing adapters from Windowbox won’t win any prizes for looks, but they definitely get my vote for functionality. They are meant to be used in conjunction with their Windsor wall brackets to convert wall mounted window boxes into railing mounted window boxes. I can’t imagine why they couldn’t be used with any metal wall brackets.
Regardless of the type of railing bracket you choose, it’s imperative that the plant-filled window boxes and planters you are placing on the railing brackets do not exceed the manufacturer’s recommended weight limitations.
Books on Window Box Gardening
For the book hounds among us, here are a few titles you might want to check out:
Window Box / Flower Box & Railing Bracket Sources