First, consider how you wish to use the area. Are you looking for a colourful relaxation area or just privacy?
Second, evaluate the microclimate. Toward which direction does the balcony face? Note how much sun the area receives and for how long. If the balcony is recessed, does direct sunlight reach it at all?
If the situation is very open, will you and your plants be subjected to buffeting winds and scorching sunlight? Look at the area with a very critical eye before putting a lot of money into the project.
Safety considerations are another important factor to think about. Avoid using heavy containers; plastics and cedar wood are recommended for low-weight situations.
Once you have evaluated the balcony for comfort and safety, you may start looking for plant materials. Choose plants suitable to your site.
Container gardening often is the easiest solution. Pots and planter boxes come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, take up little space, and are movable and easily maintained.
Don`t be limited to the `usual` standard annuals. Try long-blooming perennials, which, with a little extra care, can flower all year long.
An experience gardener or a good book can help you choose right. You can also watch our pages for lists of suitable plants for various climes.
The plants on an outdoor balcony are usually enjoyed from indoors as well, so be sure to plant eye-catching displays wherever they can be viewed through glass doors.
Flowering climbers trained up a permanent trellis do wonders to disguise an unsightly view.
One popular way to display a variety of plants in a small space is the `three-tier` design. Upright plants are used against a wall or trellis, or as the centrepiece in a planter box to add height.
Bushy, medium-height plants fill in the bulk of the container. Trailing plants placed on the edges of the planter tumble over the sides, softening the composition.
Balconies have been transformed into beautiful gardens wherever space is at a premium. Your balcony may be just the spot. The right spot to brighten up your home.