A well-designed balcony or patio garden can change the way a home is utilised by extending the liveable space and creating a transitional flow from the indoor to the outdoor world. As multi-functional spaces, our balconies are often used as places to entertain, to relax and unwind and to escape from the hustle of city living. In addition to this, it’s also quite common for balconies to never be too far away from the prying eyes of our neighbours and hence privacy is key to ensure that we feel comfortable enough to enjoy our outdoor room.
So why is it that so many of us are underutilising our balconies and shying away from creating our own little slice of garden paradise? It's always been my belief that the common underlying theme is that most people lack the confidence in knowing which plants and accessories are most appropriate to use in their space. Creating any outdoor space can be tricky, but if you’re like many of us who live in homes with small (or even tiny!) outdoor balconies or spaces, then creating a garden in this environment is a tough challenge. It’s all about getting the balance right between plants, pots, scale and design. However, on the plus side, small space gardens are much easier to maintain and can really help to bring style into your home.
Balconies generally fall victim to the extremes when it comes to exposure. They are often either too sunny or not sunny enough, too small or too narrow, open to the natural elements or completely undercover. Once you throw in the logistical concerns of shifting pots, plants and dirt and the fear of not knowing how to take care of your garden, it’s no surprise that people become paralysed and uninspired, leaving our balconies bare, uninviting and forgotten rooms.
While there are many aspects to consider before rushing out and buying plants, take some time to first evaluate the function and form you wish to achieve.
When it comes to function, it’s best not to overcomplicate your space with a list of too many wishes. You may wish to consider using your space to sit and relax, to entertain, to grow some herbs or to create a sense of privacy from neighbours. Whatever your intentions are with function, focus on no more than 2 goals and do them well. Prioritise your decisions around these goals and you’ll create a space that makes sense, rather than one that doesn’t fit in.
Form is achieved by bringing in various three-dimensional elements such as plants, pots, and furniture to create an aesthetically pleasing space that works to soften its surroundings, create order and provide a distinction between different areas. By using a variety of form, you can enhance a space and prevent it from feeling stark, while also giving you an exclusive space to escape to.
Use colour to elevate form by sticking to a palette scheme and repeating it through your space, which also helps create a sense of unity. Foliage and flower colour are easy ways to achieve this, but pots can also be used as a simple way to pull a space together. Choose pots of the same common colour, but also pick those that are the same style and shape for maximum impact. For a really unique take, source pots from suppliers that can custom paint them in colours that match your furniture or other surrounding elements.
Finally, use texture to create interest and to soften hard surfaces. This can be achieved by using a variety of plant foliage, along with soft furnishings like outdoor rugs.
Whatever direction you take, planning your design in advance of purchasing is the best way to ensure you achieve a successful outdoor balcony garden that you can enjoy, rather than ignore.
Don’t be held back by your own perceived restrictions. There is a plant and pot that will suit every scenario, no matter how small or big your space may be.