How to make a garden on your balcony – 4 ways to make the most of small spaces

Gardens have become a sanctuary for homeowners, with billions of Brits turning to gardening throughout the string of national lockdowns. While many of us are without a traditional garden to call our own, balconies, patios and terraces are just as good for growing seasonal blooms and fruitful crops – and there are a number of clever hacks to help you. Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Good Move Director, Nima Ghasri revealed her top tips to create your own balcony garden this spring.

The spring equinox is just days away, with the warmer weather following closely behind.

As the days grow longer and brighter, it’s the perfect time to take hold of your outdoor space and get it ready for the warmer months – no matter how small it is.

Nima told Express.co.uk: “You need to make the most of what space you do have to achieve a great micro-garden.

“Sketching out a rough floor plan and measuring up the space is a great idea so you can see how much you can plant while leaving enough space for you to enjoy your outdoor space too!”

READ MORE: ‘Essential’ jobs for a ‘successful year’ in the garden

How to make a garden in small spaces

As well as utilizing your balcony or other types of outdoor space, you should consider using surrounding walls and fencing to free up floor space, while adding dimension to your garden.

Use vertical planters

Window boxes and tall planter frames are a great way to stretch the physical limitations of your space while giving plants extra growing room.

Nima recommends using:

  • Tall planters with trailing plants to create a feature wall
  • A trellis to store climbing plants such as Jasmine
  • Ladder shelves to fill corners if you can’t use fixed items

She said: “These solutions will give you plenty of vertical room without needing to add any permanent fixtures to your space.

“Just make sure you keep an eye on trellis climbers so they don’t overgrow, or, in the case of plants like ivy, start finding their way into cracks or masonry.”

Tailor your plants to the environment

Balconies and terraces are often overcast with shade and can struggle to access bright, interrupted sun.

For plants to grow properly, the soil needs to be warmed to a temperature of around 18C-24C, which can be an issue for some sheltered spaces.

While it’s no secret that a sun-soaked balcony will offer better growing conditions, some varieties are actually best grown in the shade.

According to Nima, the best shade-loving plants to grow include:

  • Salad leaves like rocket and parsley
  • Snowdrops
  • Aquilegia
  • Begonias and geraniums (partial shade)

Nima added: “If your space is really windy, maybe consider ferns or grasses that won’t lose petals in a stiff breeze – just bear in mind any plants growing in wind might need more watering than usual.”

Choose pots and soil carefully

Pots and soil are crucial to the health of growing plants, and it’s even more important when it comes to planning your balcony garden.

She said: “While it’s important not to choose heavy containers for your plants, be careful with really lightweight containers, like plastic pots or beds – if your balcony garden is quite exposed, heavy winds could blow them over or even knock them off completely.

“Make sure they’re appropriately weighted or fastened down during bad spells of weather.”

To choose the right soil for your plants, look for a potting mix that’s made specifically for containers and pots.

You should also cover your soil with a top dressing of compost to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need to grow happily, said Nima.

Use the space wisely

Overloading your small space is one of the biggest mistakes made by a lot of green-fingered balcony owners.

Nima said: “Overloading with plants and pots will make your space seem incredibly cramped, and you won’t have much space to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Keep things minimal if you can!”

Which plants are well-suited to balconies?

There are many plants, fruits and vegetables that will grow happily on your balcony right now, with everything from seasonal blooms to flavorful herbs doing well in small spaces.

Nima said: “You might have to forget any plans for giant sunflowers or rows of pristine roses, but some of the prettiest and most pleasant plants and flowers will happily grow on a balcony.

“Plant primulas, polyanthus, pansies, pots of dwarf irises and miniature daffodils as they are all hardy enough to be outdoors now – but be sure to keep them moist and shelter them from drying winds.”

Other plants to try include:

  • Pansies
  • Tulips
  • Daffodils
  • Snowdrops
  • Begonias
  • Geraniums
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Thyme
  • Sage