A balcony presents a challenge for the gardener. Balcony spaces typically present small, often narrow, areas. Any added structures must be temporary or easily movable. In addition, the amount of sunlight available for growing plants is often limited. However, if you are creative and determined to exercise your green fingers, balcony garden design ideas and solutions exist that can work for most balcony gardeners
A trellis is a vertical structure that holds flowering or vegetable-producing vines and encourages them to grow up, rather than out. Additionally, a trellis loaded with vines creates privacy. Climbing roses, colourful bougainvillea or passion vine grow well on a sturdy trellis. Don't forget fast growing annuals, such as morning glory or hyacinth bean, for quick cover. Always secure a trellis to a railing or other fixture so it does not become dislodged in high wind.
Shelving can hold plenty of plants, but plants on the lower shelves can't receive sufficient sunlight. Build shelves that hold plants in a stairstep design to address this issue; when completed, the bottom shelf extends further out than the top shelf. If you don't have much room, build three shelves of 6, 12 and 18 inches wide.
Hanging baskets are a great way to grow trailing and flowering plants. Hang them from sturdy supports or railings, and they won't take up valuable walking or sitting space. Any hanging basket suitable for a balcony must be sturdy and unlikely to fall apart in high winds. Hanging baskets dry out quickly and must be watered often. Attractive flowering plants for hanging baskets include petunias, begonias and geraniums. For shady locations, fill hanging baskets with attractive ferns.
There are many different containers to choose from for planting vegetables and flowering plants on a balcony. Attractive containers may be made of wood, ceramic or plastic. Group the containers by placing the tall containers behind short containers. Mix flowering plants, herbs and ornamental grasses in a large container to vary textures and colour. For a coordinated look, match the foliage or flower colour of the plant to the colour of the container. Move the containers around, depending on the angle of the sun. They are great places to grow vegetable plants if you receive at least six hours of sun each day. Move containers planted with tender perennials indoors during the winter, if needed.
Fill an attractive container with water and add a few water-loving plants, such as water hyacinth or water lilies. To keep mosquitoes from breeding in the water, add one or two goldfish to eat the mosquito larvae. Water feature fountain kits that recirculate water and create a small fountain or waterfall are available at most garden centres. The sound of trickling water creates a relaxing atmosphere.
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