More condo dwellers than ever are turning their balconies into green space – a quick glance upward during the warmer months will reveal everything from micro-gardens to full-on leafy canopies. Balcony gardening can be just as rewarding as landscaping a suburban-sized lawn, and it can pack even more visual punch. Plus, a balcony garden is easier to put up and take down, cheaper, and requires way less time. You can even grow vegetables, provided you’re getting enough light. Let’s take a look at 2015’s biggest outdoor trends – you’ll be halfway to the garden centre by the time you finish.
Herbs have always been a mainstay – who hasn’t killed a basil plant or four? – but with craft cocktails becoming more popular than ever, we’re starting to see a wider and more interesting range of options. Basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, lemon verbena – even dill won’t steer you wrong. Use them to muddle, infuse your liquor of choice, freeze into ice cubes or just as a fragrant garnish. After all, what goes better with a beautiful view than a good cocktail?
Succulents & Cacti
We don’t know what it is, but these little guys are everywhere right now – and for good reason! Succulents are super-easy to care for, needing relatively little water and less sun than you think. Get a whole slew of them and get creative with your potting options – we like one pot bursting with different varieties. Alternately, use interesting china and containers to pot them solo – because they need water less often, you don’t have to keep them in traditional draining pots. Just keep an eye on their texture – if the skin starts to wrinkle or feel infirm, your sun to water ratio is probably off.
Forget those cheap white plastic baskets you get at the grocery store – the hanging basket is having a serious renaissance. Macrame hangers are available everywhere from Etsy to Crate & Barrel to Urban Outfitters – so embrace them! The key to pulling off this look is to balance the heavy, retro look of macrame with a modern, clean plant – think a one-colour hanging vine or a simple white flowering variety. Remember to hang them toward the back of your balcony, in a slice of sunlight – the wind will make short work of them if you don’t.
From homeowners converting small urban yards to broccoli patches, to apartment-dwellers building whole trellis’ on their balconies, growing your own veggies has never been more popular. Sure, the quantity of edible plants you can grow might be limited – but the satisfaction that comes from growing even one perfectly-ripe tomato is worth it. Tomatoes are a popular balcony choice because they don’t need a lot of soil to grow. Hot peppers, bell peppers, beans and peas, radishes, beets, cabbage and greens like romaine, spinach and chard are all great for beginners.
- You need to over-water. Container gardening anywhere requires much more water than regular gardening. With the increased wind exposure you get a few floors up, you’ll notice that your plants are thirstier than you expected. Give them a good dousing once or twice a week without worrying about root-rot – evaporation will take care of the rest.
- Secure, secure, and secure. Speaking of wind, be careful! Make sure all your pots are heavy or well secured – a good gust could send half of your hard work over your balcony’s edge.
- Watch the weather. Keep an eye for hard rain, frost and hail, and haul your plants indoors or cover when the weather’s harsh. Better safe than sorry!
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