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Take your garden to new heights by adding flowers and other potted plants to your balcony.
Not every aspiring gardener has the option of a garden bed, but almost every aspiring gardener can find a place to grow. Flowers, vegetables, herbs, even trees are possible if you have balcony or rooftop space. However, before you start, make sure your homeowner's association and your structure support your project.
If you plan to have more than a few containers in your balcony garden, you will need a supply of water nearby, such as:
Don't water the plants until you have them placed, as the water will make them heavy. Remember, the higher the balcony, the dryer it's likely to be. Until you get accustomed to the water needs of your garden, check your new plants every day to make sure they haven't dried out.
North- and east-facing balconies get less sunlight than south- and west-facing structures. If you include dwarf trees and shrubs in your garden, you'll need to plan ahead to ensure they receive enough direct sun daily. The sun's path changes over the seasons, so take this into consideration as well. Also remember that most flowering plants (especially annuals) need lots of sunlight.
Choosing the proper container is always important. But it's even more crucial when gardening on a balcony. Weight and proper drainage is key, no matter what material you choose. Plastic is lightweight and fashionable. New lightweight plastics are made to resemble clay but are only a fraction of the weight. Wood is another option. Saucers under the containers help if the balcony area does not drain well. Large containers can be dramatic, but if you have to move them in winter, put them on a platform with casters to allow mobility. A lightweight potting mix allows good drainage and reduces the overall weight of the container.
Use caution when placing containers on balconies. Improper placement creates a tripping hazard or an undesirable step-up for children. Make sure that railings and ceilings can support the weight of planter boxes or hanging baskets.
Like a traditional lawn or garden, it's best to start with a plan. The same design principles that apply to yards also apply to balconies.
Factors to consider during plant selection include the usual criteria:
The list of possible plants for the balcony is extensive:
Follow a normal grooming, pruning and feeding schedule. Depending on where you live and which way the balcony faces, wind may be a major factor. Conversely, reduced air circulation in some balconies can promote disease.
Regarding winter care, larger containers are less likely to freeze than smaller ones (more soil in the pot provides more insulation). If your climate requires that the garden be moved indoors, choose plants and containers accordingly.
Check your building covenants or rental contract before undertaking any gardening project. In addition to rules governing types of plants and containers that may be used, there are also codes regarding height and weight restrictions.