Beautiful, lush gardens are no longer a privilege reserved only for people who live in landed houses. With a little planning, it’s possible to turn your high-rise balcony into a blossoming garden in the sky.
But don’t rush over to the nearest nursery just yet. First you need to assess the space, and consider key elements like natural sunlight, shade, and views, to make the perfect sky garden for your friends and family to relax in.
Today, with a little planning, it’s possible to turn your tiny high-rise balcony into a small garden in the sky. It’s time for 7 top tips, followed by 10 little buds of inspiration. Get your gardening gloves at the ready, team!
7 Top Garden Balcony Tips To Consider
You’ve got that passion to deliver your own little slice of high-rise nature, but where do you even start? Well there are some important practical considerations before you dive right in.
1) Measure the load
Okay people, listen up, it's gotta be safety first and foremost. It’s worth checking out the load capacity of your balcony before you get started.
This will give you an idea of the safe weight it can handle. Unless you’re planning to allow your balcony to be heavily overrun with plants, you’re unlikely to go over this, but better safe than sorry!
2) Have clear goals
How does your perfect sky garden look? Is it a tiny jungle in the sky, or a place where you can chill out and relax with friends and family?
Understanding what you want with your space is vital to planning. If you want room to relax, don’t rush out and buy thousands of plants.
Make sure your guests also have space to move around. If plants are more your thing, then goodbye guests, and say hello to 500 potted plants!
No matter what your dream green space may be, a good place to start is by putting your thoughts down on paper. Measure your garden space, and draw out a sketch of how you imagine it to look.
3) Don’t overlook the challenges
Don’t just look at the opportunity, consider the challenges too. If you’ve got kids, do you really want a tall plant that they can climb, right next to the balcony's protective rail?
And how about if you're keeping pets in a high-rise? Some plants may be pretty to look at, but they can actually be fatal if your pet suddenly decides to eat some of it.
Likewise, if you’ve got limited floor space, consider how you could build upwards, instead of just sideways.
If you’re overshadowed by larger towers nearby, then explore how low-light plants might still bring a touch of green to your garden.
4) Set a budget
A few little plants might not seem like much, but the costs can soon add up. Set a firm budget before you begin your quest for a greener high-rise life.
Shop around (both online and in brick-and-mortar shops) to price the types of plants you’re interested in, so that you know where you can get the best deal.
If possible, spend as much as you can on the best greenery, as they’ll last much longer. That means you won't have to keep forking out money for replacements every few years!
If you’re not particularly fussy, then consider using Carousell or other online classifieds pages to get the best second-hand deal on plants.
5) Consider wind and light
Gardens need the sun to thrive, even if they’re on the 50th floor. The type of plant you purchase should directly relate to the type of sunlight you get on your balcony.
Consider the lighting conditions and match with your plant choices. Too little, or too much, can both be a problem.
Ask the plant seller for tips on what would be best, they'd be more than happy to assist you with your green babies.
Also, we’re not sure if you’ve noticed, but sometimes it can be reallyyy windy up high. Select heavy containers that don’t blow over easily, or use protective shrubs to shield more delicate plants.
6) Tool up
It’s time to tool up! No, it’s not the apocalypse (despite what 2020 wants you to think). We're talking about investing in proper tools to maintain your garden.
These include good quality items such as planters and pots with appropriate drainage, watering cans, and gardening tools. This is an investment in keeping your garden thriving.
7) Know the rules
This isn’t some secret code of gardening. This is about stratified property regulations! Your apartment or building may have regulations written down under something like a Deed of Mutual Covenant which sets down rules for balcony gardens.
Better to check the rules upfront, than have the building managers demanding that you tear down your beautiful sky garden which took you months of careful planning and execution.
10 Great Garden Balcony Ideas To Inspire You
You’ve planned your strategy and laid down the groundwork for a wonderful balcony garden all of your own. Now it’s time to let your imagination blossom! Here are 10 amazing garden balcony ideas to inspire you.
1) Mix and match
Look beyond just one simple type, and create a balcony garden that incorporates a wide variety of plants. Include a base of perennial plants that keep their colours all year, alongside annual plants.
A perennial basically means it does its thing no matter what’s going on, whereas an annual plant is one that blossoms and dies over the course of a single year. Don’t worry, you can collect the seeds and replant an annual plant each year!
If you’ve got perennial or evergreens mixed in alongside annual pants, you avoid the risk of your balcony garden looking sparse because you’ve focused too much on one type of seasonal plant.
Adding in some annual plants does mean you get a wonderful variety to look forward to as the seasons turn.
2) Go vertical
Not everybody has an amazing penthouse apartment with masses of outdoor space. Using vertical planters can be a great way to maximise the number of plants and foliage in your garden.
It doesn't even need to be something as fancy as an intricate natural wood trellis; it can be as simple and cheap as reusing a wooden pallet or piling up crate boxes.
Have a couple of sad, plain walls, or you're only renting a bedroom? Not to worry, here’s a great guide on some vertical garden ideas to get you started.
3) Keep it hangin’
What goes up, must come down! As well as building up from the bottom, you can let plants kind of hang and do their own thing from vertical hangers. This is a simple, but effective garden balcony idea.
It’s worth checking your property development rules in advance, but you might be able to add attachments to the walls on your balcony to include shelves and/or hanging baskets.
This is a great place to add some attractive hanging ivy-style plants, or lazy foliage that likes to drape beautifully down from above.
Don’t worry if attaching to the wall is somehow prohibited; you can find some great freestanding hangers to add to the party. Just remember to secure them appropriately against the wind!
4) Turfs up
Balcony in the sky? No problem. Fake turf can be a great way to add that garden feel, despite the dizzying heights of your apartment.
Do your research and find a quality fake turf that fits your plans, and then carpet your balcony garden in this wonderful replica grass.
This can not only provide a more pleasing feel underfoot, but really delivers that soothing green colouring, without all the hassle of regular maintenance.
5) Stylish tools
If you’ve got limited space, then stylish tools can be a great way to double up practical help with a decorative appeal.
If you’ve got a small step ladder (like in the image above) to reach hanging baskets, then use it as a vertical space to stack plants or garden decorations.
Although, factor in you’ll have to move whatever is on it to use it too! You can buy a beautiful classic watering can, maybe some trendy gardening tools, and showcase your green fingers with some great style too.
6) Wish for water
Okay, we don’t often have to wish for water in Malaysia! Sometimes it rains a bit too much for us to even enjoy our balconies. But we can take the power back — by incorporating a soothing water feature on your balcony.
There are loads of great options for water features that don’t require any internal plumbing. A simple electric water fountain can provide a soothing flow of water in an enclosed cycle system.
That means it just keeps on pumping the water round and round, giving you the gentle burble of a stream or fountain as a background to your soothing sky garden.
There are even some ‘water features’ that simply channel falling rain water through a decorative system, creating a unique look during the heavy downpours.
7) Upcycle, naturally
Upcycling can be a great way to incorporate sustainable garden products into your balcony garden. This can be a particularly striking visual appeal when talking about materials such as tin cans and plastic containers.
Why not take it a step further and incorporate old, slightly damaged furniture into the entire plan (like the succulent dresser above)? Talk about clever upcycling!
Take a look at initiatives like Meraka, KakiDIY, or Biji-Biji to see how, and why, upcycling can be so amazing.
8) Let the plants do the climbing
Sometimes plants just need a little support guys. That’s support to get climbing! Climbing plants are a great way to add a vertical dimension to your beautiful garden balcony design.
Create a simple framework out of sturdy sticks like bamboo, and purchase some wonderful climbing plants to slowly weave their way up the framework.
This is a low-maintenance opportunity to get some height to your garden. Added bonus that climbing plants are often super simple to care for.
9) Unnatural light
Natural light is great for your plants, but planning smart artificial light is a wonderful way to expand the use of your garden.
Solar lights are one thing to consider, adding a soft illumination that can really make a garden a magical place at night. The added bonus is you don’t have to charge the batteries.
Hanging lights are another way to add some illumination in a subtle way, with simple outdoor fairy lights often requiring minimal maintenance and having a relatively long battery life.
If you want to add some functionality, then an outdoor table lamp or hanging lantern should give you the illumination you need to finish off that book that’s seen you through sunset.
Remember though, you can’t just move an indoor lamp outside permanently, because weather...
10) Get gadgeting
Just because it’s a natural oasis, doesn’t mean you can’t bring in some technological wizardry. Lights are great, but what about connected smart lamps you can command with a touch of your mobile phone?
Garden gadgets are way beyond a novelty waste of money these days. How about some automatic sensors that check soil saturation and remind you when to water your plants?
And it’s not just digital gadgets either. Garden gadgets stretch from funky watering cans right through to bird feeders that attach to windows. Go, go, gadget garden!
In today’s high-rise condos, having a balcony is often a luxury – but no matter your budget, there’s always ways to transform your outdoor space into a thing of beauty! Want to 'greenify' your indoors too? Here are some ideal plant types for you to consider.