How to convert any small space into a garden
Converting small space into a beautiful garden can be complicated for beginners and simple for pros. It depends on your level of knowledge and how you want the place to look. Basing on the look and design you can either spend thousands of dollars or as little as a hundred dollars. A lot of things go into small space gardening or balcony gardening.
Space is another factor that will determine how the end product of your garden will look like. With enough space, you can design a full-on farm. On the other hand, with little space, you can make a low-maintenance balcony garden with the help of appropriate containers and plants.
So, to turn a balcony into a garden, few things will come into play: space, time, energy and or money, light and exposure and the type of plants.
Gardening a balcony will be affected by the surroundings because tiny spaces usually experience microclimate. And there is a chance your balcony has different microclimates, for example, a shaded area will have a different microclimate to another part of your balcony that is exposed to the sunlight or wind.
Things to consider before turning your balcony into a garden
- The amount of sunlight
You need to know the amount of sunlight that your balcony receives every day- in terms of hours. There are a lot of things that can obstruct direct sunlight from reaching your balconies, such as a roof, trees, and other buildings in the vicinity. Knowing this will help you select the appropriate plants for your garden. Determining the amount of direct sunlight that reaches your balcony each day can be daunting if you do it methodically because you will have to sit out in the balcony with a timer. The simple method, however, may be using a gardening device called a sun calculator. Change in seasons also affects the amount of sunlight not only on your balcony but everywhere else.
Space is never a big deal when it comes to gardening because you can create extra spaces vertically by erecting posts, creating wooden trellises or containers.
- The heat that your balcony receives
This will also determine the type of plants you want in your garden. Some plants may not blossom in extreme heat.
- The cold
Again, not all plants withstand extreme colds. But there are a number of aesthetic plants that can overwinter during cold months.
- The wind
The strength of the wind in your area will too determine which plants to select for your garden. Some plants thrive in harsh winds and others curls and die. However, the wind is something mechanical and can be influenced. You can have wind tolerant plants to provide cover to the fragile plants in the garden, or you can place them on the floor so that the walls act like windbreakers.
- Availability of water
Just like any other garden, your balcony plants will need constant watering and it can be difficult if you don’t have a water source in the vicinity. Also, your plants will have different water needs. There are some that will need lots of water and others that will need little.
There is no point of designing a garden and then living it to wilt due to lack of water.
- Your budget
It is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a balcony garden. You just need to invest in good, durable containers and potting soil. Also you can find pots with great value for money at second-hand stores or yard sales. You can have a small garden in the budget by customizing your own containers at home using a wooden crate, baby pram, plastic bottles, Mason jar, or water trough.
Types of pots for balcony gardening
Containers will hugely affect how you design your garden. One of the best ways to have a nice, small garden in the budget is by being clever about the containers. You don’t have to spend fortunes on gardening containers when you can create your own at home.
Check out these creative planters.
- Grow bags
Grow bags are perfect for small balconies because you can raise several plants in a single container. These bags are made from versatile, lightweight polypropylene blends, which allows the roots of your plants to breathe easily as well as prevent excess heat build-in in the container and overwatering. With this container, your plants will develop healthy roots and strength.
You can design your own concrete container from stones. They are lightweight and easy to make. Hypertufa is made from perlite, concrete, and a mixture of peat moss. This container is more porous, which means you can plant alpine and succulent plants in it.
- Resin Planters
These containers are made from fiberglass and plastic resins, which give it a classical look. The container is very light and can be placed at the corners of the balcony.
- Clay pots or terra-cotta
Terra cottas are lightweight and porous but dry out instantly. This container is suitable for your shady balcony and can grow herb like lavender.
- Metal container
This container will allow you to give your balcony a classy look. However, they don’t support all the plants. You need to find plants that can tolerate heat and drought, and also you should have a water source nearby to water the heated soil courtesy of the metal.
- Raised container
Raised containers are usually made of solid wood, which offers great water retention. But you can also use wooden crates or twigs to contract a container, but you will have to line them with water-proof materials before filling them with soil.
Popular balcony designs
Here are some of the best ideas you can use to design your garden with little space.
- Scrap wood
With this design, you make use of your vertical space by utilizing scrap wood or two wooden pallets. Customize the wood into flower boxes and attach them on the wall of the balcony. This design will ensure the area is clean, cozy, and save lots of space. To add a little warmth and romance, deploy some candles on the wooden boxes.
This design makes it possible to do gardening in a tiny balcony. Use wooden crates to plant your edibles and hanging boxes on the balcony rails for flowers. It is a perfect design for a city balcony. Include terra cotta pots to plant tiny herbs.
- Hanging garden
If you have a narrow balcony, this design is for you. Simply hang baskets and pots and you will have enough space to grow a variety of plants. Attach the pots and baskets to the balcony railing do that you utilize as little space as possible. At the floor of the balcony, you can add a few other pots to grow flowers of your liking.
Tools for balcony gardening
Balcony gardening is not like large landscape because it requires cheap gardening tools and very little resources.
Here are must-have tools for every container gardener.
These are a very necessary tool to have for any gardener. It will help you avoid splinters and thorns while gardening. It also offers you protection from harsh plants and small animals and insects such as snails, caterpillar, and hornworm.
- Watering can
The most important tool to have around if you want to do balcony gardening. In this context, the watering can is used loosely to mean any container you can use to water your plants. When watering your plants, you should be careful not to splash out the soil around the stems to ensure they remain strong and fertile. Splashing water out into the foliage of your plants will increase the risks of fungus infestations and other plant diseases.
Trowels are versatile garden tools that you should have around in your garden. You will use a trowel to dig through the soil, loosening it before planting.
Many gardeners use scissors to cut off dead leaves and pruning plants. While the scissors work just fine, the wet saps from the plant foliage can make them rust or stick. Nevertheless, scissors are not as sharp as compared to pruners.
- Sticks and strings
String and sticks will provide support to your plants and the containers. You can find free sticks at the park or you can buy some at your local garden store. Choose a string that is organic in color so it is not the first thing people see when they visit.
Fertilizers can either be organic or synthetic, liquid or granular. Each type of plant in your garden will require a different type of fertilizers, but an all-purpose product will do just fine. Another alternative that works just as well as the compost manure. This is a great option for those who want to plant edibles in their balcony garden and are afraid of chemicals.
With this, you need to extra careful because some of the plants you may want to grow may be classified as weeds. The best safe can be an organic pesticide.
Best plants for balcony garden
The following plants can do well in a balcony garden or small space garden.
- Amaranthus caudatus
- Adonis aestivalis
- Acer palmatum
- Bellis perennis
- Erigeron, and
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