West London family home. Garden with wooden deck and small lawn and white shed on raised level. A three bedroom terraced Victorian house in Richmond, London, home of Kate Kozina co founder of Fine Stems business and her husband Gregory and two children.

How To Make The Most Of A Small Outdoor Space

City dwellers and those living in apartment buildings usually only have a balcony as their own private outdoor space. With this being the case, how do you make the most out of this limited space?

This article will offer some handy tips and ideas on how you can transform your balcony into an attractive and productive outdoor area by utilising this limited space to the best advantage. We’ll cover things like adding a degree of privacy, growing herbs, low maintenance potted plants, vertical gardens and more.

Grow Low Maintenance Potted Plants

Depending on your location, the plants you choose may need to be highly-resistant to loads of sunshine or even pollution. To find out more, just ask at your local nursery or enlist the help of a gardening expert. You can also go online for some good ideas.

You won’t be short on options when it comes to plants perfect for balconies. Australia has a diverse range of plant life that is accustomed to surviving harsh conditions and climates. It’s just a matter of doing some research or asking questions.

To get you started, here’s a shortlist of plants you could consider that would be perfect for growing on a small city balcony:

  • Gymea Lily
  • Succulents
  • Grass Tree
  • Cycad
  • Liriope
  • And more…

This is just a very short list, but there are plenty more options out there. Search Google images to see what appeals to you.

Use Screening Plants for More Privacy

One of the real downsides to apartment living can be a lack of privacy. Perhaps you live on a low floor and everyone walking past can see your balcony. Or, your building might be designed in such a way that balconies are facing each other.

Growing plants that create a privacy screen is a fantastic way to keep those prying eyes out. What type of screening plants you choose may depend on how much space you have available, but let’s look at a few options.

Tall, narrow plants that you can grow in a straight line generally work the best, particularly for smaller, rectangular balconies. For this you could try something like bamboo. You don’t have to fear it growing too tall, as the height of the bamboo will be restricted by the pot size. 

Small, narrow pines like conifers also do an effective job of creating a privacy screen without consuming too much balcony space. Conifers are a very symmetrical plant, easy to look after and they don’t drop much debris.

Another option is to grow some climbing vines. These can work effectively so long as the wine has enough places to attach itself. You’ll need to be diligent with climbers though and trim them regularly, otherwise they could grow out of control.

Create a Vertical Garden for Your Outdoor Space

When space is extremely limited, arranging your gardens vertically allows you to make maximum use of available space while consuming minimal floor area. Vertical gardens are a perfect idea for establishing small herb gardens to flavour and garnish your meals.

There are lots of options on the market to build and grow vertical gardens. Local nurseries, hardware stores and department stores stock a wide range of vertical garden accessories so you can create the right size and height for your needs.

Vertical gardens are not only suitable for establishing small herb gardens. You can also grow regular plants in them, plants that don’t grow too tall. Cacti are a good choice, as are small flowering plants. Once again, a search of your local nursery will give you plenty of options to deck out your vertical garden and have it looking healthy and lush in no time.

Add a Water Feature

If you have the space you could install a small water feature in your balcony garden to really give it that extra touch of serenity. Water features come in all designs and sizes these days, so there’s sure to be one that suits your outdoor area.

There’s nothing quite like the look and sound of water to calm the mind and give peace to the soul. Water and plants go hand in hand, so it only makes sense to introduce a water feature to complete the look and feel of your balcony garden.

Don’t Forget To Leave Yourself Somewhere To Sit

To truly enjoy your balcony oasis, you want to be able to relax and take a seat to soak it all in. If you clog up the area with too many plants and gardens, it’ll be standing room only.

You don’t need large seating arrangements. If space is at a premium, even a stool or two will do. Just make sure you have space to kick back and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Wrap

Even the smallest balcony can come alive with some smart thinking and the right plant choices. If you follow the tips in this article, you can transform a bare balcony into a private and natural oasis.

Author Bio:

Daniel Fudge is the managing Director at Hort Culture, a Sydney based garden services provider specialising in maintenance in the residential, commercial and strata sector. He has been in the Horticulture industry for over 15 Years.