Don't waste this valuable real estate space of your rented apartment. I certainly don't! Do create a garden room however small or big it may be. Do you have a lousy view? A garden room on your balcony will focus your attention to something more pleasant. Have a spectacular view? Enhance it with the framing of a garden room.
Mind you, if you search the internet for balcony garden apartments, many of the images and suggestions focus on maintaining flowers, foliage, vegetables and herb gardens. Here, I focus on decorated garden rooms, particularly those with furnishings and dining arrangements but also have floral and foliage plants.
Critical concerns before beginning:
- What are apartment building rules governing what you can have on the balcony.
- Location of your closet neighbor, above or below. Let's face it, if you want to plant a sunflower on your garden, the neighbor may not care for the it's attraction of bees. He or she may even have allergic reactions to bee stings.
- Is your flooring wood planks with space in between and where dirt, water or debris from your plants can fall through cracks.
- Do you have full sun, partial sun, shade or partial shade.
- Last but certainly not the least, how much space do you have: sufficient for a comfortable seating and breakfast or dining area.
Where to begin:
Now that you have answers to the critical concerns, the fun really starts. Remember, I'm talking balcony or porch garden rooms. So furniture first. From the above photo example, you can see that seating was resolved with minimal furnishings due to space limitation. But piled rugs (first image) and lots of floor pillows (second image) manages the space very well. (See my post on Floor Pillows for more ideas.)
Elements that make these small spaces work are soft furnishings created with decorative pillows and floor cushions of different shapes and sizes; a mixture of colors and patterns. The wall garden of plants is a marvelous idea for gaining and utilizing space.
Let's look at more examples of small balconies with garden rooms. See if you can pick out what or why it works:
Need lighting ideas? See this related post: Cool Apartment Balcony Lighting Ideas
Here's another tiny space made even more private by a bank of plantings:
Plant considerations for a balcony garden:
- Choice of plants will depend upon your taste but don't be intimidated by the plants requirement. As long as you can meet the needs of the plant, you can most likely include it in your garden. If you have house plants, they would probably love to spend some time outdoors. Just acclimate them in the spring, and again in the fall when you return them to the indoors. And don't be afraid to add a tree, even a shrub. There are so many of them that do well in pots, just buy them when they are small. I love maples for this reason.
- What is your micro-climate? Sun and wind, sun and shade, shade, windy, buildings nearby, city dwelling or in a coastal area, etc. How much protection can you give the plant?
- Type of pot will be critical. Clay pot and wooden pots are porous and so will dry out faster. Clay pots with glazing on the outside and plastic pots will retain water better but can also increase soil temperature. Setting pots on a tray of stones with water will also help to provide moisture.
- Soil care. Using a good potting mix with porous elements will provide sufficient aeration for the plants, and of course don't forget to "feed" the plants. Note that over a period of time, salt builds up in the soil. Generally, you would hose down the soil to wash out that collected salt you see on the top. This would be very difficult when you live in an apartment, unless you are willing to mess up your bath tub. I suggest just replacing the upper soil surface.
- Bug control. Don't let those little "homesteaders" take over your garden! Pick them off with your fingers, use a mild soapy insecticide or if it becomes all out war, use a stronger insecticide purchased at a home garden center.
Gardening is one my favorite subjects. I've done it for years and have been a master gardener in three different states. This is to say, I'd better bring this post to an end because I love to talk garden. I will say, I now have a very large screened-in porch to my apartment with a studio. And I'll be following much of my suggestions and the examples shown above as I start decorating and gardening on my porch.