Seven tips for small spaces
Colourful geraniums, freshly picked tomatoes or a small raspberry bush – if you think flowers, fruit or vegetable plants can only be grown in a garden, then you're mistaken! We reveal how to get the most out of even the smallest of areas and how to create a beautiful balcony garden.
Of course, a small space cannot accommodate as many plants as a large garden. And there's no room for a sun lounger or swing hammock, either. Nevertheless, clever planning will allow you to get a lot out of even smaller spaces. That's why we're sharing seven practical tips on using your balcony space efficiently and turning your balcony into a dreamy oasis of tranquillity.
Colourful and tasty
If you want a colourful balcony, a large selection of balcony flowers is available especially in the spring or summer. For example, begonias, geraniums, petunias, fuchsias, million bells, horned violets, buttercups or verbenas are all suitable for planting in a pot or balcony box. Almost every herb – from basil to yarrow – is also suitable for potting. And by the way, bees and other beneficial insects love flowering herbs, too.
When it comes to useful plants, there is now also a wide variety of plants that take up little space and will still delight you with tasty fruits. This allows you to create a beautiful fruit and vegetable garden on your balcony comprising small dwarf tomato plants, balcony chillies or flowering peach trees.
But it's advisable to check the plant's label when buying, as it will provide you with information about the plant's growth habit and how much space you should give your plant. For example, if you're eyeing a classic garden raspberry (which is capable of developing shoots of several metres in length), you should put the pot back and choose a balcony raspberry, instead. Such special potted plants have a very compact growth habit and are therefore perfect for small balcony gardens.
Think out of the box
Balcony boxes are probably part of every balcony gardener's standard equipment. They come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes. To use the space as efficiently as possible, choose flower boxes that you can attach to or hang on the outside of your balcony's railing. But to ensure your balcony boxes can't fall down in a gale or storm, remember to make sure they are well secured! In addition, the rules and regulations for some rented flats state that balcony boxes may only be hung on the inside. That's why it's important to find out what rules and regulations there are before buying flower boxes. Then you can measure your balcony's railing. For a balcony that's a good two metres wide, we recommend two large boxes, each with a length of 100 centimetres. This will allow you to plant along the entire length of your balcony's railing. Of course, you can also use a lot of small flower boxes or hanging pots. Although this will cost you a little space, the balcony can look somewhat larger.
Planting tip: A variety of flowers are suitable for semi-shaded and sunny balcony gardens. For example, geraniums, petunias, daisies, million bells, verbenas or marigolds are wonderful, as are plants of the Nemesia genus. Anyone who wants to grow some small balcony plants for picking can plant a variety of herbs, strawberries or dwarf bush tomatoes. Begonias and fuchsias will provide pretty splashes of colour on north-facing balconies that tend to remain shaded. Herb lovers can also plant woodruff or bear's garlic.
Who says pots always have to be at ground level? Hanging baskets offer an ideal way of making use of the space in the air, too. Hanging plants, in particular, will feel very at home there. Since hanging flower baskets come in different sizes, you can choose the right hanging basket for the plant – or you can even put several plants in one hanging basket.
Planting tip: Colourful hanging verbenas, West Indian lantana or hanging geraniums brighten the mood on sunny balconies. Ornamental foliage plants like the Chinese fleecevine also make for real eye-catchers. Since most strawberries are hanging plants, they are also perfect for hanging baskets. Hanging begonias and fuchsias are recommended for shaded balcony gardens. Their enchanting flowers make them a wonderful feast for the eyes. If your balcony captures at least a little light, you can also try your luck with wild strawberries.
A little craftsmanship is all it takes to conceal bare walls with pretty plants. For example, make a practical hanging shelf out of a board and some rope. You can place small herbs or flowers on it. You can also embellish your balcony walls with a few succulents, which will grow into a living wall.
And to create even more plant diversity on the balcony, you can make a vertical garden bed with a wooden pallet. But don't plant the pallets too densely, as each plant needs enough space for its roots to develop. Generally speaking, small succulents, various herbs or robust wildflowers that cope with only a low amount of soil are especially suitable for a vertical pallet bed. When you put it together it's important to ensure any excess water can drain off after watering.
In addition, you can plant flowers that love growing upwards rather than widthways. Black-eyed Susan, Virginia creeper, ivy or clematis are climbing plants that also serve as a privacy screen against prying eyes.
Square instead of round
If you want to save a lot of space, we recommend planting in square pots rather than round ones, as this will prevent unused gaps. If the pots are quite large, with a capacity of say 8 or 15 litres, you can even plant compact potted fruit trees such as balcony peaches or columnar apple trees – tomatoes or cucumbers will also feel at home in them. However, these plants should go in bright and sunny location. A balcony that captures the sun for at least half a day is preferable.
Large boxes or – for a slightly more appealing look on the balcony – smaller raised beds are especially practical. Depending on how big the box or raised bed is, a wide variety of vegetable and fruit plants can be grown in a sunny or semi-shaded balcony garden – from lettuce across radishes through to fragrant herb beds, your creativity has free rein. There are numerous ideas for planting your raised bed, especially on sunny balconies.
On the other hand, this can be a little more challenging on a north-facing balcony. You can try your luck here with shade plants, such as bear's garlic, woodruff or wasabi. Pretty ornamental plants like fern, plantain lilies and bleeding hearts also grow quite well in shadier locations.
Tip: Before planting, it's important to make sure water can drain away easily through several drainage holes. To prevent possible waterlogging even more efficiently, a drainage layer made out of granules is recommended. Also make sure the plants have enough space for their roots.
Foldable and multi-purpose
In addition to colourful plants, a balcony garden should also have a nice seating area where you can relax after gardening, of course. Foldable balcony furniture is recommended, especially if there's little space on your balcony. Numerous variations that are suitable for small balconies are already available. When gardening and planting, you can simply fold up the chairs, put them to one side and take care of your plants undisturbed. Multi-purpose furniture is also helpful – for example, a chest that can easily be used to store a few bags of soil or as a bench with two or three pretty cushions. Large comfortable cushions that can be laid on the ground if needed can also be used as a seating area when you have a few friends over.
By the way, while you can enjoy the evening sun on a west-facing balcony, south-facing balconies can get very hot in the summer. A narrow parasol or small sun canopy can help here. The advantage of a sun awning is that it provides more shade and does not require any floor space.
Cosy atmosphere with lights
Fairy lights, candles and lanterns are indispensable when it comes to creating a beautiful atmosphere on balmy summer evenings. To save space, the fairy lights can easily be wrapped around the railing or suspended from the ceiling. Candles and wind lights are placed on a hanging shelf or a small wooden table – and that's all it takes to set up the decorative lights in your balcony garden!
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