Picture: Flickr

Create an oasis of green in your tiny city balcony or courtyard with these tips from Nikki Fitz-Gerald from Life is a Garden.

Whether your garden is an understated row of pot plants on the window sill or a few of your favourite flowers lined up on the balcony, there are tricks to making the most of whatever limited sunlight and space you have to make that garden flourish.

Since, the best things often come in small packages, smaller gardens certainly have their benefits, for instance, they require little maintenance and minor, budget-friendly changes instantly elevates their appearance.

Picture: PxHere.

Balcony gardening combine the best of both worlds:

Apartments, townhouses and smaller homes may often not include a traditional garden – but almost all homes have a sunny windowsill, balcony or alcove.

Balcony gardening takes many shapes and forms. Your personal taste will dictate whether you opt for functional edibles (ie. herbs and veggies) or brightly coloured flowering plants.

“If you are new to balcony gardening, it’s a good idea to start small. Observe the light conditions you have to work with – most balconies have either morning or afternoon sun but there are often areas that have full sun or full shade. Choose plants accordingly,” said Fitz-Gerald.

Mixed planting refers to planting a selection of different plants in one container ie. a windowsill, feature planter or large bowl or basin, Fitzgerald said, “Typically the plant mix combines flowering (seasonal) plants and perennial foliage plants to ensure a consistently full effect.”

One of the many benefits of balcony (and container) plants is that you can move the container around to find the best position, ideal for courtyards and balconies cast in the afternoon shadow of high-rise buildings. Additionally, Fitz-Gerald said, “The vivid colours of shade-loving outdoor plants add brilliant bright colour to patios and balconies.”

Picture: Pxhere.

Patio, courtyard and balcony gardening tips:

  • Consider whether your plants will be in the sun or shade. “If in shade, look for plants that grow in the shade, and vice versa. If you live in a frosty area, choose plants that tolerate frost,” said, Fitz-Gerald.
  • How much time and attention can you give to your plants? Fitz-Gerald suggested low water usage plants for those who do not have as much time to tend to their garden. “They are easier to care for, and yet can still give a lovely effect. Examples include succulents, bougainvillea, felicia, pelargonium, gazania, guara and ficus.”
  • Pick a range of shrubs that will offer your garden year-round beauty. “Select evergreen shrubs for your containers. Colourful seasonal annuals can be planted around the shrub,” she said.
  • Choose plants that suit the container. “A low container will focus attention on the plants, while a decorative pot can be as much part of the display as the plants it holds. Trailing plants suit a large container and hanging baskets,” she said.
  • Use trailing plants to soften the edges. Fitz-Gerald suggested: Helichrysum petiolare, lobelia, nasturtium, cascading petunia, and verbena.

Did you know that walls can be transformed into vertical gardens?

Make the most of limited space by converting walls into a captivating wall of green. Follow this instructional video by Life is a Garden to learn more about how to create your own vertical garden at home:


For more information on bringing Life to your Garden, visit our websitewww.lifeisagarden.co.za or join the conversation on our Facebook page:www.facebook.com/lifeisagardensa.

Life is a Garden is the marketing division of The South African Nursery Association (SANA). SANA is a member driven, non profit organisation, which strives to promote gardening as a hobby in South Africa for ALL South Africans. Find your nearest Life is a Garden/GCA affiliated Garden Centre by looking for the yellow and green GCA flag at independent garden centres, and all Builders Group Home stores.