Tips to help make your small space become an oasis in the city.

Do you dream about having your toes in the grass, trowel in your hand, digging and planting, creating a garden oasis to then suddenly awake to realization that you live in an urban centre 12 stories up!? You’re not alone and thank goodness. Designers and gardeners have been busy coming up with new and creative ideas to help you have a lush little piece of heaven to come home to. Hopefully these next tips can get your green thumb out this summer and you to will enjoy the fruits of your own labour.

Stick it where the sun don’t shine!

Or does for that matter! Spend a day making notes about where the light hits, how long it stays, and any periods of shade. Note the direction that your balcony faces. Knowing when and where the sun will be shining during the day will determine what kind of plants that you will want to grow. Once you know, you will be able to pick the right kind of plants for the space. For instance with vegetables, tomato plants and peppers love their sunshine so you will want to raise them up so they can enjoy all the sun has to offer. This is easily achieved with an elevated garden or vertical garden planter. Plants such as kale and spinach are shade dwellers and will do well tucked in below.  Herbs are very adaptable and are generally considered the best balcony plants. Having fresh herbs at your fingertips will also add a lot of flavor to your meals. Your foodie friends will admire you for it and you won’t need those costly boxed herbs from the grocer anymore, especially when you only need a snip or two. There is an endless variety of flowers for use on balconies. Pick some flowers that will add a lovely scent to your space such as lavender, which is also gorgeous when dried, and can be used in the winter months in a little sachet’s in the cupboards to remind you that summer will come again. Don’t forget to always check what kind of sun exposure each plant needs to ensure you get your gorgeous blooms a’blooming.

Gardening Containers - Doing double duty

Depending on what the view from your balcony is you may want to consider different styles of containers for your garden in order to get the most out of your precious space. If privacy is an issue and you’re feeling a little exposed an effective use of plants can create privacy. Climbing plants like ?Heavenly Blue Morning Glories bloom for up to twelve weeks and grow up to 12 impressive feet. The beautiful Clematis has a long bloom cycle as well and come in array of colours to choose from. Sunflowers are perfect on a sunny balcony and are always a welcome sight. They can grow over five feet tall – creating a smiling fence of privacy. You could also consider using a mobile container to create an additional wall, or separate a larger space to create a more room like feel.  

High Maintenance or Low Maintenance

Even the most ambitious of Green Thumbs need to be realistic in terms of how much upkeep and love their garden will require. For instance if you travel for work or like to go away on the weekends you will want to pick plants that can live without you. Generally, plants growing in containers require more frequent watering than plants growing in the garden, so stay away from materials such as clay and terracotta, as water will evaporate from them quickly. Whatever container material you use, however, be sure they allow proper drainage through the bottom to ensure you do not drown the plants when you do water. This hardy loner and unsung hero of many a garden stands on her own very well. The humble Geranium.   This is a great plant for beginners, and has a long bloom life and will grow well in a variety of containers. It comes in a myriad of colours as well so you can create a colourful vibrant container. One type of plant per pot is best if you are away allot, but the darlings still have to be watered at least every two weeks. Another great option is the bold blooming Hortensia. With big, softball-sized flower-cluster heads in blue, pink or both, the Hortensia likes the cold, won’t mind a little sun and all you need to do is remember to water it three times per week. Even I can do that!

With a little inspiration, creativity and determination you can create your own garden oasis. Bringing you a bit closer to nature and getting you a little further away from our glass concrete jungles. Bring out your inner Green Thumb this summer; you will be amazed at what you can do.