A balcony can often be overlooked in terms of Garden design. Maybe a chair, a potted plant or two, or simply used as bicycle storage. But a balcony has the potential to provide an oasis of green in an urban setting. By following our design tips you can create a space that transports you. A place that you will look forward to having your coffee in the morning, and coming back to in the evening.
A balcony oasis garden can be achieved by following a few garden design tips and some strategies for successful container gardening. Any balcony can be transformed into a garden space. Follow our steps below to create your very own oasis.
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1. Measure and map your space
Now, this may seem unnecessary, especially if you have a 10 square foot balcony. However, understanding the space you have is crucial. In fact, the smaller your balcony, the more crucial this is.
Start with a measured sketch of your space, then add to the sketch where the light moves throughout the day. What direction are you facing N S E W etc. this will all help to inform plant choice, seating choice etc.
Finally add to your drawing any particular parts of your view that you like the most or least. For example, if your balcony looks into a building for half the view but the other half is the ocean. Mark that on the drawing. Likewise if you have a neighbor balcony that you need to build in privacy from, mark that.
2. Line of sight
This step is super important before you buy or place any plants. Take a chair out onto your balcony. Preferably one of the same height as the chair you intend to use or purchase for the design. Move the chair around the balcony at different spots. Take time in each spot to really note what you see. Which spots have the best view, light, will the sun be in your eyes when reading, is one spot colder, warmer than another.
Make notes on each spot. And select your 1-2 favorite seating spots. But don’t commit 100% yet, as once we start planning plant locations you may want to adjust this slightly.
3. A ‘large’ plant or tree can make a small space feel big
It’s counterintuitive, but a large plant can actually make your small balcony feel bigger, and is essential for that oasis feel. (Even if we have to fake it- more on this later). Likewise when you see a small space filled with tiny pots it actually makes the space feel small and cluttered.
Before purchasing anything be sure you are (if renting) allowed plants on your balcony and if it’s your balcony that the structure can hold the weight of potted plants. This may sound bizarre, but it’s always worth checking.
The key here is a large vertical space plant with a minimal footprint, plants that climb, trail, or can be grown to hang over the balcony. Once you have chosen a plant, mark its full size on your sketch, using it to block an unwanted part of the view, provide shade, privacy, or have it on the back wall to simply provide green.
4. The perfect seating and table
Invest in a comfortable chair, bistro set or even a nice weather proof beanbag chair.
The furniture you choose can set the tone of the space. Calming, modern, eclectic, boho, traditional or tropical. Either way be sure to choose colors that bring you joy. If you love neutral calm vibes, go for clean modern shades. Remember if you choose white colors to look for easy to clean materials.
Alternatively, the furniture can provide an opportunity to add a splash of color. Look in both your balcony space and the view to find colors that will complement and fit well with the space.
4. Creating a feeling of Privacy
It might sound counterintuitive, but you can create a feeling of privacy and cosyness on a balcony space by using plants, textured materials and furniture height.
Below are some options to add a feeling of privacy, this is really the key to the oasis balcony retreat vibe.
- Line the inside of your balcony with a material that gives a cosy oasis vibe such as these bamboo fences.
- Add a trellis to partially block the view and create dappled light with a climbing vine. Keep this to less than 1/3 of your view to add interest and a nook without taking away light and the outside feel. Choose the side of the balcony with the least appealing view, and angle the seating behind the trellis to face the best part of the view. This will create a wonderful private nook on your balcony, to read, enjoy a coffee or simply relax.
- Choosing furniture that is High enough for you to see the view but low enough for the view to not see much or you can also create a feeling of privacy and when combined with some lush planting can make the space feel like an oasis escape.
5. The little details
Add finishing touches to create interest. Think about the 5 senses..
- Sight– Think about the feeling / vibe you want the space to portray. Choose colors that make you feel this way. Choose warm bright colors for a feeling of joy, whites, neutrals or cool shades of blue for relaxation or purples and blues for magical interest.
- Sound– add calming sounds with a hanging chime or a small solar powered fountain that can be put in a small pot. Yes you can have a water feature even on a small balcony! As long as it isn’t too heavy and doesn’t leak it should be ok for a balcony. A little pot big enough to have a floating solar fountain will suffice.
- Scent– Choose scented flowers or plants to ignite your senses. Consider the time of day that you will spend your time in the space, and selected a plant that blooms at this time. Night blooming jasmine is a great choice for an evening space to relax.
- Taste– For a truly multifunctional space, consider adding some edibles. Again consider your intended use of the space and the time of day. For an evening hangout, some fresh herbs for cocktails. For a morning coffee nook some fresh berries or a miniature lemon, the options are endless just choose edible varieties of plants that can thrive in pots.
- Touch– Texture and touch can easily forgotten in a space but is the secret to creating a feel of luxury or hygge in your balcony. To add this sense, choose fabrics or materials that have texture, and combine multiple textures together for create a feeling of luxury. For example a woven chair with a fort blanket. Or a Turkish style outdoor rug to create an indoor outdoor feel.
6. Plant maintenance
As always, the number one thing to consider when choosing plants for your garden space, is how much time you have to care for the plants. Think about how much you can water, feed and prune the plants and choose plants that fit your time constraints and the conditions you found in step 1.
7. Final Thoughts
With the right preparation and planning, a thoughtful choice of plants, and a curated selection of accessories and furniture. Your balcony can become the perfect oasis for you to relax and escape. Follow this 8 steps to help your balcony reach its potential. Please share with us your results and any additional tips or recommendations you have! We would love to hear them.
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