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What You Need to Know Before Starting Your Balcony Garden

Updated: Feb 16


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, I don't think there is a gardener out there who can say they never killed a plant before.


Gardening is improved by making mental notes and improving the next season. I made a lot of mistakes early on and I learnt from them so I'm sharing some of the things I learned along the way.

Balcony covered in flowers and a garden


What direction are you facing?


One of the most important things to know when gardening is what sun coverage your going to get. This literally dictates the where and what plants to 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. 



a person holding an open compass


Rest assured, you can still grow successfully in any kind of direction, however, only if you plant plants that are suited to that direction. Here's a breakdown of what kind of plants you can grow:


  • South, East and West facing - You can grow pretty much everything, fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Bare in mind, you'll get the most intense sunlight, which is not always a good thing as it can kill young seedlings if they are 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.

  • North Facing - Your going to be relying mainly on the daylight so you'll need shade-tolerant herbs like mint and parsley. You can also grow alpine strawberries, mushrooms, lettuce and microgreens.


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? At what spot does the sun rays settle on your balcony and how do the rays move along your balcony. This way you can see which spot gets the most sun and plant accordingly.


leaves in sunlight

Permission for Change


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. For example, can you put in nails vertical gardening items?


Handshake between landlord and tenant about small garden agreement

Once you're aware of these three elements you can get started on your design ideas.

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