A balcony may feel limited in terms of design potential, but there is actually a lot you can do to create a relaxing and fun space filled with flowers and plants that will transport you away from busy city life.
The balcony that garden designer and horticulturist Emma Tipping created for the 2023 Chelsea Flower Show is a case in point, demonstrating that with some clever styling and innovative thinking, you can create a beautiful garden with even the most limited space.
Emma has shared her expertise and balcony décor ideas in collaboration with Ruggable, from using your existing balcony features to how to choose the best plants for your balcony, and they're a must-read for anyone hoping to give their own terrace or balcony a new lease of life for the summer.
Make use of your existing balcony features
"Railings and external walls are great features to utilise when looking to save space. Plant hangers can be positioned on top of railing and fences to avoid using up any floor space, or you can create a wall garden by attaching long planters to external walls which are perfect for planting produce to create your own balcony vegetable patch.
"By organising your plants like this, it can maximise space and enable you to add more flowers to your balcony, creating a calming environment that is great for wellbeing and wildlife."
Recycle and repurpose what you already have
"You’ll be surprised at what items can be used to create your balcony garden. In my exhibition for The Chelsea Flower Show, I have used repurposed rubbish bins as planters whilst the benches are made from old railway sleepers.
"Treated pallets are great for vertical gardens, and can be secured onto external walls. Likewise, they can be used to create a seating area, sawing them to size and stacking them to create a raised bench for optimum comfort.
"There are also some kitchen items that can be repurposed for your balcony. Old tin cans can make lovely plant pots for smaller plants, whereas colanders are ideal for hanging baskets, with the design providing great drainage when watering.
"For the tin cans, if you want to make them look a bit prettier, you can give them a lick of paint and then simply drill a few holes for drainage in the bottom. They’re the perfect size for growing a range of produce that you can use for cooking, such as herbs, tomatoes and strawberries.
"To create a hanging basket, simply line your colander, fill with compost and arrange your chosen flowers accordingly. Then, simply secure it with rope and hang it with a hook."
Bring your interiors outdoors
"The key to making your outdoor space comfortable and homely is to bring a touch of the indoors outside. In my exhibition, I have used the Allura Rug & Ranier Rug from Ruggable, as well as featuring outdoor cushions which make a comfortable seating area so you can sit under the trailing leaves of your plants. It creates a serene seating place, giving you the true outdoor feel of being amongst nature."
Choose plants with a purpose
"Finally, a great tip when deciding what plants to include in your balcony is to opt for ones that are functional. When you have a small space, you want to make the most of it and pick plants that have the most benefits.
"Therefore, looking for plants that add fragrance and colour, as well as other functions such as being able to be cut for flower arranging or provide produce that can be eaten, really maximises the usefulness of your balcony.
"For plants that add fragrance, Lavender is the perfect choice, producing a gorgeous, calming smell. Other fragrant flowers that would be perfect for small, outdoor settings are Jasmine, Rosemary and Hyacinths, all of which will add glorious fragrances to your garden, as well as a range of colour to brighten it up.
"Another of my favourite flowers to try and include in balcony features are Hydrangeas. With these, you can cut them to use in fresh flower arrangements, or you can even dry them to create a beautiful dried flower arrangement that will last."
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