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.
Balcony gardening does require a few adaptations. Remember these rules of thumb, and you’ll be off to a great start:
- 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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