We’ve all come across bare balconies when driving through our cities, often reminding us of the baron one at our own apartment and then suddenly we spot that one with the lush green walls, planters and hanging baskets and almost instantly feel uplifted. However, if the thought of trying to grow fruit, herbs and decorative plants and getting them to thrive in what might seem harsh conditions bares to much stress to even fathom, you needn’t worry, there is hope in that lush balcony garden.
The trick to getting your balcony to look green is in understanding the conditions of your space and working out what plants will suit the environment. The main obstacles you will face are wind, rainfall and light levels (direct sun or no direct sun).
Establishing the microclimate of your space is rather easy and only requires observation and minor research of your neighbourhoods climate and past weather patterns. (a task you will only need to do once).
So after you have determined the average rainfall in your area, amount of days of extreme heat or cold, and average temperature, then all you need to do is step outside into your space and determine the aspect (sunlight and wind direction). This background and understanding of your environment will give you the information needed in selecting the right plants.
So let's start with light level. If your balcony, patio or alfresco area faces or takes the brunt of the sun majority of the day then you’re only option is to select full sun loving plants, which are hardy and can withstand the hot direct sun in summer.
By selecting plants that work with your environment it will make gardening so much easier than trying to fight nature. The same concept applies to spaces that receive almost no light at all, which would require shade loving plants in order to make it work.
The best way to determine what plants to even consider is to think about a place or environment that could possibly match yours. e.g., hot and arid driven places such as Mexico, you instantly think of an Agave (used to make tequila). So you will then know that this species of plant will work in your space and is a possible option for your garden or balcony. By selecting the right plants, you will then only need to provide minor assistance in making sure they look green and lush.
So next time you come across a garden or area with a similar garden or balcony environment such as yours just take note of what plants they have growing and how well they’re doing. This will be your starting point at making sure that your balcony garden has the best chance of being a green oasis.
The other factor to consider in the success of your balcony garden is the additional wind the plants are going to bear the brunt of. Catering to a balcony with such an issue will require the need of additional watering due to the leaves drying out faster than those planted at ground level.
The best option is to group your plants and their containers once they have been selected, with the taller plants towards the back and the small ones being visible to the front. By grouping your plants the loss of water will be far less than if they were individually spaced and also reduce the impact the force of the wind.