three images of lush green plants and flowers in planters on balconies

Small Balcony Gardening Made Easy

Living in urban areas without access to a yard can certainly create an added challenge if you love to garden! If you have access to a terrace, patio, or small balcony, there are many ways to make the most of it.

You can invest a ton of money into a small balcony garden design or keep things relatively affordable and straightforward—it's totally up to you. However, space is not the only thing you'll need to consider. You'll need to think about the microclimates that balconies create based on their location and how the conditions fluctuate more than what you would experience gardening in your average backyard landscape. Still, these are easy enough to work around, and you can still grow quite a wide variety of flowers, herbs, and veggies.

woman watering red geraniums on a rail planter on her balconyHow Do You Turn a Small Balcony into a Garden?

You must address a few essential questions before you start planning your small balcony garden, the first of which is to confirm that your balcony can sustain the added weight. For example, terra cotta pots and some soil mixtures are heavier than others, so consider looking for some lightweight alternatives as you begin your balcony garden design. Another helpful question to ask is whether or not your building allows balcony gardens. Some buildings may allow flowers but not vegetables to prevent birds or other pests; check the rules for your building before you get started. 

woman planting container garden petunias, geraniums and celosiaAssess the Growing Conditions on Your Balcony

Balconies can create their own little microclimate and even have several different microclimates based on how much sun, shade, or wind they get. If you have a south-facing balcony that receives full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours, you'll have an easier time choosing plants. Most veggies and sun-loving flowers should thrive! Just ensure that you keep your balcony plants well-watered. 

If you have a north-facing balcony, you will probably have to focus more on shade-tolerant plants like ferns, hostas, and begonias. Some herbs and greens can still grow if they are not exposed to full sunlight, too! 

Smart Ways to Maximize the Space on Your Balcony

Rather than feeling frustrated, look at your balcony like a little slice of paradise. Maximize the space on your balcony with some creative design choices like adding shelves, trellises, hanging baskets, creative container arrangements, or creating a vertical garden. 

spring bulbs planted in rail planters on balcony in city Balcony Railings are Prime Gardening Real Estate

On railings, your plants will get the most sun exposure and take up the least amount of space. Benefits aside, it takes a bit of planning and problem solving to determine the best option for selecting balcony railing planters.

Standard railings will often accommodate planters with a notched bottom that sits on the railing. Others will sit on top or have hook attachments that can screw directly into your railings. Be sure to take measurements and photos before you head out to select and purchase your railing planters, and that you know they will be safely secured before you start filling them up with plants and soil. 

Get Creative with Containers

Design some gorgeous, creative planters and combine flowers and edibles in one pot to get the best of both worlds. Follow the traditional "thriller, filler, spiller" method, and be sure to select plants that will get along in the little microclimate you have created. 

If your small balcony gets plenty of sunlight, consider using peppers, tomatoes, snapdragons as your thriller, strawberries or lobelia as a spiller, and geraniums, parsley, or carrots as a filler! The options are truly endless once you cross the barrier of mixing flowers with edibles!

Take Advantage of Wall Space

There are many materials you can utilize to create a vertical garden these days, from installing shelves to lattices to recycled pallets; there are plenty of ways to maximize the wall space and create a gorgeous garden design at the same time. 

vertical wooden planter made from pallet planted up with houseplnatsLet Trellis' Work Double Duty

Trellises are fantastic for small balcony garden designs as they can act as a wind block and a place for vining plants like beans, morning glory, or clematis to climb. You can add vertical growing to your balcony and get some privacy at the same time!

If you need some help troubleshooting how to make the most out of your small California balcony, stop by Summerwinds to chat with our knowledgeable staff! They'll be happy to help turn your balcony gardening dreams into reality.