Top Tips for a Balcony Garden
For many people living in big cities like London, having a garden is simply not an option. If your only option for an outdoor space is a balcony there are some key issues that need to be considered for starting and running a balcony garden.
Weight –To reduce the weight on the balcony use light weight plastic or composite containers filled with light weight compost and use a layer of lightweight drainage material at the base of the container, such as polystyrene plant trays broken into ‘crocks’. Keep the heavier pots nearest to the load bearing wall.
Environmental conditions – balconies can be very exposed to strong winds and bright sunshine so using mesh or trellis as a screen to filter the wind and the sun can be beneficial.
Water- balconies can often be sheltered from rainfall by balconies above, plus the wind and sun can make containers dry out very rapidly. Plants on balconies can require watering twice a day in warm conditions so setting up an irrigation system, although expensive, could save you a lot of time. To help retain moisture within the containers use water retaining gel in the compost and containers made from non-porous material e.g. plastic and fibreglass.
Nutrients – plants will need regular feeding. Controlled-release fertiliser used in the compost is the easiest solution but add liquid fertiliser to annuals to get the best flowering results.
Plants – for colour throughout the year use seasonal bedding plants and dwarf spring bulbs. To make it easier to swop plants in tubs keep plants in their pot but remove the base. The plants can then get water and nutrient without the roots spreading into the compost. For structure and shape use plants that are tolerant of wind and sun. Choose plants that have needle like leaves e.g. pine, cordylines and grasses, or small leaves like cotoneaster or escallonia. Alpines are also good in a balcony garden.
Depending on the size of the balcony cover the floor in artificial grass to give a true feeling of an outdoor space.