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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

What You Need to Know Before Starting Your Balcony Garden

Updated: Apr 4


It’s so exciting getting started with refitting a balcony with a garden. If you don't start with a plan you're bound to make some hiccups along the way, but don't worry, I don't think there is a gardener out there who can say they never accidentily killed a plant before.


Balcony covered in flowers and a garden


What direction are you facing?


It's all about location, you'll need to know what sun coverage your going to get. This dictates what plants you can place in your balcony garden.


Here is a quick breakdown of what kind of sunlight you get depending on what direction you're facing:

  • South-facing balconies get the most sun.

  • North facing balconies get no direct sunlight. 

  • East facing balconies get the morning sunlight.

  • West facing balconies get the afternoon sunlight.



South, East and West facing balconies


You can grow pretty much everything, fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs.


Bare in mind, if you're south facing you'll get the most intense sunlight, which is not always a good thing as it can kill young seedlings or tender herbs like basil, if they're sat in direct sunlight all day.


Start seedlings indoors or just keep them out in the sunlight for a few hours at a time and put them back in a shaded area.


Keep an eye on tender plants, if you see them wilting in the heat of the afternoon sun, then move them into a shaded area.


North-Facing balconies


If you have a north-facing balcony, you're going to be relying mainly on the daylight so you'll need shade-tolerant herbs that don't need direct sunlight.


Try herbs like mint and parsley.


You can also grow alpine strawberries, mushrooms, lettuce and microgreens.


Rest assured, you can still grow successfully in any kind of direction, however, only if you grow plants that are suited to that direction.


Observe


Before you start placing plants on your balcony you'll need to observe what happens on your balcony.


For example, how windy is it normally? Maybe think about placing a windbreak, or plants that can handle the wind.


Look for the spots where the sun rays settle and move along your balcony. This way you can see which spot gets the most sun and plant accordingly.




Permission to plant for renters and other issues


If you're living in a rented apartment, you'll need to double-check with your landlord or lettings agency on what you can do to amend the structure of your balcony.


Can you put in nails for hanging baskets?


Some apartment buildings find gardening 'messy' and may not allow it.


Also, if you're on the bottom floor and your balcony is facing communal grass which is mowed and kept, find out if they use herbicides that may damage your plants.


Handshake between landlord and tenant about small garden agreement

 

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