Questions to Answer Before Starting a Garden Balcony
Starting a garden on your balcony can be very rewarding. There are a few things to pay attention to because it can be costly or cheap. It can also be complicated or easy and straightforward. Your balcony garden can either be low maintenance or a full-on farming experience with the plant and container choices you make. It all depends on the space, light, energy, amount of time, and money you have to spend.
Much different from the climate on the ground, a balcony is usually considered microclimates. Even the size of your patio can produce a distinct microclimate. The amount of wind and shade can make very different environments for growing on your balcony. There can be considerable shifts in temperature on a balcony. The material used to build a balcony can also drastically affect if your patio maintains hot or cold temperatures.
The great news is that there are excellent plants for nearly every condition possible. Figuring out which plant is best for your balcony garden is the first step. Your chances of success significantly increase by spending the time to evaluate your balconies conditions.
How Big Is Your Space?
Even with the smallest spaces, you can still have a garden. Windowsills and fire escapes can also easily convert to productive gardening spaces. Thinking of your area in its entirety will help when deciding on the layout for your garden. Evaluating your balcony for vertical space to hang plants from will result in the additional room to grow your garden. Even if there isn't a wall to hang plants from, there are options for creating vertical space. Building trellises or stacking pots, there are many ways to use all of your available space.
How Much Sun Does Your Balcony Get?
There are tools for measuring how much sun your balcony gets; one suggestion would be a sun calculator. Another option might be to time it with a clock. It is common for people to overestimate how many hours their balcony gets sunlight. Accurately assessing how many hours of direct sunlight space gets is essential. Be mindful of buildings and walls as they will reduce the amount of direct sunlight on your balcony. Another consideration is which season you want to grow your garden. The sun will move across the sky and be in a different position, depending on the time of year.
How Much Heat Does Your Space Get?
Depending on the material used and the size of your balcony, the temperature will vary drastically. Many plants will not survive in extreme heat, so it is essential to evaluate your balconies conditions. Some plants like the succulents will grow just fine in the heat, but others like lettuce and herbs will not make it.
Is It Windy on Your Balcony?
The wind can destroy some plants, while others will grow just fine. It all comes down to choosing the right plant that fits in your space and environment. There are many ways to create wind barriers to protect your fragile garden. Placing larger wind tolerant plants in front of the weaker is one way, or putting the delicate plants low to the ground gives more protection from the wind.
Wind will also dry out the plants very quickly. A few options to combat this include watering the plants more often, installing a water irrigation system, or planting in self-watering pots.
How Much Care Are You Willing to Give to Your Garden?
There are not any carefree plants. Unless they are dead or made of plastic, all plants require some level of responsibility.
All plants require water, and some require plant food. There is a broad spectrum for the care needed to grow plants. But there are ways to minimize the amount of feeding and watering that is required.
Take time to evaluate how much time you want to spend caring for your plants. Do you travel often? Are you available several times a day for watering? If you want a high maintenance plant but don't have time for its needs, there are ways to minimize the tasks. A few options might be installing a water irrigation system, using self-watering pots, or even pay someone to care for them.
Starting slow is always the best option when planning your balcony garden. You can still buy more plants when you start slow. Starting slow gives you a chance to evaluate your space and get a feel for what works before making a big commitment.
Is water readily available?
Watering plants can be an issue for many balcony gardeners. Large thirsty plants can require a lot of water, and sometimes the faucets are not close to the garden. Watering can are an excellent tool for watering lots of plants. They can hold a fair amount of water and can even be filled quickly from your bathtub.
Does your landlord have Rules About Gardening on Your Balcony?
Some landlords or building HOA rules could have regulations around gardening on your balcony. Be sure to check for these rules before starting a garden, as it could be a sad day dismantling your garden after you have already set it up.
Do You Want to Grow Food?
The taste of homegrown food far exceeds any food bought at a grocery store. While some plants require a full six to eight hours of direct sunlight, many vegetables are still available for you to grow. Herbs are usually the easiest to grow as they require less light. When growing herbs, you can save money and enhance the flavor of the meals you cook.
What is your Budget?
It can get expensive, building a balcony garden. It is essential to buy good quality potting soil, but there are ways to reduce your spendings. Keep an eye out for yard sales, end of season sales, second-hand stores, and community websites where people are giving away or selling pots and soil. Almost anything can be turned into a pot or container, which can help with how much you are spending. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity when planning your balcony garden.