Stylin' on the balcony

04/28/11

The number one question urban gardeners ask us is "where do you start?" So many people come in to our store not knowing how to begin gardening on a small balcony or terrace. Especially if you're a beginning gardener, all the questions in your head can feel very daunting.  Is my balcony big enough?  Do I have enough sun? How am I going to water it? What plants are going to live? If you ask yourself all the questions at once, you may talk yourself right out of it!  But you can do it! Here are some tips to help you on your way, and if you get stuck on any of them, come see us at City Planter, and we can walk you through it.

 

  1. How are you going to use your space? Are you going to have a table and chairs to eat dinner on the patio? A grill?  Plan for your use first, leave enough space for walking around and using the space and THEN measure for your planters. 
  2. Whats your style pot?  You might not think that you have a style, but you do!  Look at how you furnished the inside of your house, and bring that style outside. Are you ultra modern? Industrial chic? Traditional? An eclectic mix? If you have patio furniture that you love, you may want to match it in color or style. 
  3. Year 'round or seasonal? Most of your pots you probably want to use year round, which means that it should be made of fiberglass,wood, or metal. Glazed and Fibre-clay, may make it through a few winters or they may not. The freezing and thawing of winter may cause them to crack, but are great for seasonal color. Consider planting them up with tender plants that also need to be brought inside for the winter to enjoy them year round.
  4. What's your style of planting? When it comes to flowers do you like a lot of color? Some of people only like single colors like pure white in a black pot or sky blue in a gray container. Others like a boquet style approach -a potpourri of color and scent. You may want to sculpt boxwoods into balls or squares or create a living hedge to give privacy. Buy some gardening magazines to help give yourself ideas, that way you can better describe what exactly is in your head.
  5. Sun or Shade? First you figure out your style and design, then you learn about what plants will work in your situation. You can't grow petunias in the shade, but you can grow heirloom begonias, and hellebores!!
  6. How am I going to water all this?  This is a VERY important question! Is you terrace open to the elements? If your space is covered you are going to need to water on a regular basis. Do you have a hose hook up outside? This would make life a lot easier - you simply need a hose. You can also set up a drip irrigation system.  The systems today are fairly uncomplicated, and many you can do yourself.  If not, you'll have to hand water your pots, and during the heat of the summer, it may be everyday.
  7. How am I going to get it up there? Ah ha! Don't worry about that, come up with the ideas first!  We've wheeled huge trees through living rooms with white carpet!  All of the components of a landscape can be carried through your house or hoisted over a wall with a little creative thinking. Todays pots are all very light weight, so you can carry them up 4 flights of stairs, and not even breathe hard. 
  8. Make it your own Good gardening is an art. That means it's subjective, right? But an artist knows his medium, so take time to learn about the materials your using, how your using your space, and then put it together so it says you

         (A beautiful deck in downtown Philadelphia)