If you are starting a garden, follow these guidelines to help you create a plan before going out to purchase furniture, plant containers, seeds, plants and anything else you need to create your balcony container garden.
Step 1. Decide what you want and assess your space. How big is your balcony? What do you want to accomplish with the space? Decide if you want a low-maintenance garden, a kitchen garden, a themed garden, etc.
Step 2. Plan the space. Spend some time in your future garden space and take some measurements. How do you want to lay out the garden? Think how furniture and plant containers will fit in the space. Consider purchasing or building plant shelves to maximize your garden space. Don’t plan for too much stuff at first. Start with just a few items and add more later if you think the balcony garden is too bare. You might be happy if you stick to less because there will be fewer maintenance chores and the garden space won’t be cramped or cluttered. A cluttered garden, especially one with a lot of smaller containers, is harder to water and maintain.
Step 3. Consider lighting. Before deciding what plants you will choose, see how much lighting your apartment or home balcony gets. Will one side of the balcony get more light? What direction does the balcony face? (Southern-facing balconies get the most sunlight, while northern-facing gardens get very little.) Do you have trees or an awning that will block sunlight? Once you know the lighting your balcony garden will receive, you are prepared to choose plants.
Step 4. Research possible container plants online, peruse books and go to your local garden shop. Choose plants that you like, but keep in mind that they won’t do well if they will quickly outgrow their containers, if they’re very delicate and won’t thrive in your area, or if they won’t do well in the light you can provide. Consider your climate, too. If you don’t want to bring plants indoors during the winter, choose annual plants that will die before winter and/or choose plants that will do well in your area outdoors in winter. Also think about companion plantings and how the plants will look in your garden. A nice-looking balcony container garden will have plants and containers of varying heights.
Step 5. Go to the store! Finally you’re ready to start purchasing items. Don’t buy too much at once. First get any furniture and storage that you’d like to include in the balcony garden. Then purchase a few plants and plant containers. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – get used to maintaining your balcony garden before stepping up to more plants.
Good luck with your first balcony garden! If you have questions, ask fellow balcony container gardeners at Facebook.com/BalconyContainerGardening.