There’s no need to pity your condo-dwelling, green thumber friends – where there is even a tiny space, there are gardening possibilities.
Whether you call that spot a balcony, lanai, terrace or veranda, it can be transformed into a spring garden showcase in just a few easy steps.
Keep track of the light (and heat)
Take a few days to make note of where the sunlight falls on your balcony, and the length of time each spot remains sunny. You may have wide swaths that remain in complete shade all day, and that’s ok.
Many plants enjoy shady spots and we’ll introduce you to some of these later on. Remember, that the sunlight and shade of today won’t match that of other seasons.
It’s spring now but as summer approaches, the sun is positioned differently, as it also is in fall and winter.
You’ll also need to consider the heat generated by that
sunlight, especially if you live in the country’s desert southwest.
Experienced Arizona gardeners (Phoenix and Lake Havasu City in particular), and those in Austin, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada, for instance, have learned to ignore those little care tags that come with plants purchased at the nursery.
“Plant in full sun” may be just what a plant needs in San Francisco or Portland, but put it in full sun in Riverside, California and it may just fry. If you live in a particularly hot-summer-weather region, plant full-sun varieties in light shade, or areas where they will only receive morning sun.
Before you head out to the nursery to buy plants, draw out a quick diagram of your space. Then, consider where you’ll put hardscape pieces and accessories.
Items to consider include
- Window boxes
- Water feature
- Plant stands
- Oversized planting pots
If you are fortunate enough to have a small patio, you’ll find inspiration here.
Sometimes a garden is even more charming when the sun goes down. Balcony or patio gardens are ideal for al fresco dining, so let’s add some lighting to set the mood.
String lights seem to be the current go-to for patios and balconies, and for good reason— they’re inexpensive and come in a variety of shapes.
Whether you swag them at the ceiling or twirl them around patio cover supports, string lights may be the ideal solution. Check out some ideas on Pinterest.com.
The flickering of candlelight adds a romantic and even tropical ambiance and you can get it with LED candles. Wayfair sells a nice assortment and some of them have timers. Get inspiration on using lanterns and candles in your small garden at Pinterest.com and TheSpruce.com.
Let’s not forget plants!
The key to enjoying your condo balcony or patio garden year-round is to include evergreen foliage plants. This way, when winter’s chill puts the flowering plants to sleep, you’ll still have greenery.
You might be surprised at the variety of plants that can grow and even thrive in the shade. Even some plants you haven’t considered growing as ornamental, such as cat grass or Japanese forest grass, which both take well to container growing and shade.
Consider these shade-tolerant plants as well:
Container plants for full-sun balconies and patios
Plants to block prying eyes (or wind)
Street-level condos, or those located downtown, surrounded by others with big windows can still be private. The strategic use of tall plants will help keep prying eyes or gusty winds at bay.
Tall and dense is key here. Or, use shorter plants on stands to elevate them. Consider the following:
Find more privacy ideas on Pinterest.com.