Relax and do nothing on the balcony and enjoy the plants in a mini greenhouse
Balconies in the city are just as popular as a view of the ocean.
By Lars Lund
Our need to be outside and take care of our plants is imbedded within all of us. The same goes for how we organise our home so it is practical.
The smallest garden, I suppose, is the windowsill. In some homes at certain times of the year, it is full of potatoes or other plants that are ready to germinate. Maybe ‘garden’ is not the right word, but it is more a shelf used for germinating different plants.
Others who want to do more, but who may not have a garden, cultivate in the windowsill. This includes carrots, parsley, tomatoes and flowers. And if you are lucky enough to own a balcony, you also have a garden outdoor.
Apartments with a balcony are in high demand, just as a house or apartment with a view of the ocean is in high demand. And it is even better if there is a small greenhouse with space to cultivate tomatoes or a space for one’s favourite geraniums so they can be protected from the weather. Some people have for example a shared rooftop terrace. A greenhouse on the rooftop is paradise. Usually, it is windier on a rooftop, but if you are sheltered from the wind it will feel like summer all year. A balcony with a greenhouse instead of a messy balcony with a lot of rubbish, can be a nice outdoor space. An extra room for the apartment.
Tips from the designer
I recently met with Danish garden designer Nina Ewald, who explained how you can make a greenhouse area on a balcony. Nina Ewald has just published a book “Design din altan og tagterasse” (which translates to ‘Design your balcony and rooftop garden’).
If you have a balcony, the first thing to do is to see what kind of floor it is, Nina Ewald says. Most floors on a balcony are made of concrete. Concrete may be modern to have indoor, it rarely is the same polished concrete you have on the balcony. You should probably do something about that, to make the balcony more inviting. A solution could be wood floors. It can be placed on top of the concrete or you can use floor decking. Hard wood is the best solution in this case. Composite decking is also a good choice. Wood floors need to be maintained, which is not the case for composite decking. If you prefer grass, then artificial grass as floor decking is the right choice for you – you don’t even have to mow the lawn. Artificial grass comes in different colours. Some are light green and others are a softer and more natural green. The grass gets dirty, which you can clean with a hose.
The walls are both the house walls and the railings. If it is made of glass the options are limited, but if there is some wall you have a lot of options. If the balcony is incorporated in the building, you may also have side walls. On these walls you can put up shelves, lights or maybe hang up folding chairs and mirrors to make the room feel bigger than it is. You can also have a ladder for hanging plants. Another option is to get a greenhouse that leans against the wall. If it is a large balcony, Nina Ewald says that a normal greenhouse model also is an option, but she advises that you first talk with Juliana about the base of the greenhouse.
The railings can be used for traditional plant boxes. It can also be used for a climbing plant or a drying rack, so it does not take up too much space.
If the balcony does not have a roof, you can consider making one. The roof can be useful to put up a hammock, cosy lights or plants. In addition, you can get a balcony awning or a sun parasol.
When it comes to furniture, the material is important. They must be able to endure all kinds of weather. Side walls made from bamboo can provide shelter. Today furniture for the garden are usually lighter and do not take up that much space. Popular materials are oak tree, robinia, teak, metal and poly rattan. Once again, it is wise to take a look at your balcony and find out how much space you have. It should not be difficult for you to move around.
Om Lars Lund
Danish horticulturist and journalist
Lars Lund has for many years engaged in the garden and greenhouse. Lars has published many books about greenhouses, and he has participated in many Danish horticultural TV shows. He is a walking garden encyclopaedia, and he has answers for most basic cultivation questions – also the more ambitious ones.
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