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How to Turn Your Balcony into an Urban Oasis

Spring is finally here, and with it comes the collective impulse and desire to test our green finger. Living in an apartment doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do a little bit of gardening. Your balcony can be turned into a small urban oasis full of flowers, aromatic herbs, and even veggies. 

Growing flowers and plants in an urban environment is also crucial for the ecosystem. Bees, butterflies, and other insects need as much access as possible to food and spaces for rest. By creating a little garden on your balcony, you’re not only doing a service to yourself — but you’re also contributing to the well-being of many species of insects

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create a small garden on your balcony or patio.

1. Declutter your balcony

You need all the space on your balcony for pots and plants, and maybe for installing a chair and a small table that will allow you to read, work, or enjoy the daily coffee in your green corner.  If you’re currently using your balcony to store sports equipment, tools, or other belongings, you need to relocate all that. One simple solution is to use self storage. A 5×5 storage unit will easily hold a few boxes with some sports equipment and other stuff you don’t want to throw away but don’t use often. In the autumn, you can store there your gardening tools, planters, and pots that could be damaged by the freezing temperatures throughout the winter.

2. Decide What Plants You Want to Grow

This decision should be made based on several factors – your preferences, obviously, but also on how much space you have and how much sun your balcony is getting throughout the day. There’s a wide variety of flowers, aromatic plants, edible greens, and veggies you can grow on your patio. Here are some of the most popular and easiest to grow plants, even for beginner gardeners.

More like this: Most Popular House Plants: Choose the One for You!

For balconies that are mostly sunny throughout the day

  • Aromatics like basil, rosemary, sage, mint, and oregano are excellent choices, as they’re equally gorgeous and useful. You’ll be enjoying their scent and use the leaves for salads, pasta, lemonades, herbal infusions, or pesto for the entire summer.
  • Peppers, particularly hot peppers, also do well on balconies as they don’t need a lot of space to grow — a relatively small, five inches-wide pot is enough, and they’re also highly fruitful. You’ll be picking enough hot peppers to spice up your favorite recipes from just one plant. Hot peppers are also quite decorative, as they simultaneously have flowers and peppers at different stages of ripeness, making them a colorful addition to your patio. Another interesting fact about peppers is that the plant can live for a couple of years if properly cared for. So, in the autumn, you can bring your pot inside and continue harvesting throughout the winter.
  • Cherry tomatoes — they need a pot that’s about 16 inches wide and 14 inches deep and plenty of sunlight. Also, you must support the plant with cages. However, they’re very rewarding, even if a bit more demanding compared to other balcony plants. A couple of cherry tomato plants will offer you fresh fruits daily from late June until the first frost sets in.
  • You can plant strawberries in hanging pots or regular ones. Pick a variety that keeps bearing fruits throughout the entire summer season, such as alpine strawberries.
  • Marigolds are ideal for beginner gardeners, as they’re unpretentious flowers and thrive in almost all environments. Their warm shades varying from yellow to deep orange to chestnut will embellish your balcony for many months — they’re resilient to cold and will keep blooming until late autumn.
  • Geraniums make the perfect over-the-rail flower, and you can buy them in many different colors and shades. They thrive in full sun and, just like marigolds, will keep flowering until the cold season sets in.

For balconies (or balcony areas) that are partly or mostly shaded

  • Salad greens like lettuce, arugula, chicory, and watercress love shaded, cooler spots.
  • Cucumbers do best in partly shaded areas. Even if they need larger planter pots, akin to cherry tomatoes, and some Trellis Netting to climb on, they’re worth it as plants can be quite fruitful.
  • Microgreens are delicate and easily scorched by the sun, so you should keep them in a shaded spot for most of the day. Buy a mix of seeds, including cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, radish, endive, celery, dill, parsley, and so on. Get shallow, wide pots for the microgreens and use a plant mister to water them. As soon as the plants are an inch or so tall, you can start harvesting them for salads or as topping for other dishes. Some microgreens, like peas, beans, or kale, can even regrow after being harvested.
  • Begonias have deeper colors, and their delicate flowers last longer if they have some shade during the day.
  • Blooming in spectacular shades of blue, purple, pink, and white, bellflowers thrive in partial shade.
  • Fuchsias produce gorgeous hanging flowers from early June to late autumn and adjust quickly to less sun.

grow greenery on the balcony

3. Get tools and accessories you need for your balcony garden

As soon as you decided on the plants you want to grow, it’s time to purchase the necessary planter pots, gardening tools, soil, and so on. Here are the most important things you will need to turn your balcony into a lush and green corner:

  • An assortment of planter pots of different sizes and shapes depending on the flowers, greens, and veggies you decided to grow. 
  • Bags of potting soil. Make sure you check the labels carefully, as there are many different types of soil. All-purpose soil can be used for all your plants, but some plants might grow better and be healthier in particular kinds of soils. 
  • A plant mister and a watering can — some plants require misting, while others need irrigation at the roots, so make sure you have the proper tools for the job.
  • A gardening set containing scissors, a mini-rake, and a small plant trowel.
  • A second mister or sprayer to apply fungicides or other treatment solutions when your plants need it.
  • Fertilizer, either in liquid form or as sticks. Plants grown in pots need fertilizer, as they don’t have a lot of soil at their disposal.
  • Seeds and seedlings — if you’re new to this gardening gig, maybe you should get seedlings, as you’ll see more progress sooner, and you’ll be encouraged to carry on with your hobby.

More like this: Backyard Improvements 101: Keeping It Low-Maintenance and Eco-Friendly

4. Start gardening

Now you have everything you need, and it’s time for the actual gardening work. Place your planter pots in their respective spots, fill them with soil, and start seeding and planting. Don’t forget to water your plants regularly and to check them for diseases and parasites. Also, thoroughly research each type of plant you’re growing to learn how to care for them properly.

5. Enjoy Your Balcony!

You’ve invested time and money in your balcony garden, and it would be a shame not to enjoy it fully. Create a relaxation corner using a terrace chair and small table — or, if you don’t have space for it, a simple bean bag will do the job. Spend some time each morning and evening there — it will make you more centered, relaxed, and productive.

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