7 ways to make the most of a small garden or balcony

As the weather warms up, we’re looking toward our small, lacklustre gardens and wondering: how can we create a space where we can relax, entertain and just generally soak up the summer sun in peace and quiet?

A small garden and seating area
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Many of us, particularly those in urban environments, have small outdoor spaces to work with, but this doesn’t mean we should ask any less of them this spring and summer.

Plus, spending time in nature is proven to benefit our mental wellbeing, and you can still access the perks of nature by bringing plants into your own private space, regardless of its size.

So, we spoke to Elin Harryson, in-house expert at Planta, the Swedish plant care app, about how to make even the smallest outdoor space look beautiful.

Balcony gardens

Small areas, such as balconies, can be one of the best ways to maximise space and outdoor enjoyment.

Grow up

To make the most of the space on your balcony, opt for vertical gardening. Using ladders, stack planters, vertical wall planters, and hanging baskets can change a dull space into a tropical jungle. Ferns, vines, and succulents all make for great vertical gardening. You can also use wall pockets, perfect for growing a variety of plant sizes without the commitment. You can pick up and move wall pockets around your balcony garden to change it up at any time.

Start big

A good way to start your balcony garden is to bring in a few bigger plants that are perennial and suited to the climate, rotating seasonal plants to add some vibrancy to your garden space. Mix and match foliage plants with flowering plants and edibles plants to achieve a good harmony in your garden. If you struggle to find time to tend to your plants, or if you are away much of the time, low-maintenance plants like succulents can make the ideal addition to your garden, with a minimal amount of fuss.

Drainage

When you’re working in a smaller space, repotting all plants into larger pots with good drainage can help avoid your plant babies getting overwatered or root-bound during their growing season. If there is rainfall in a smaller garden, then using pots that can drain properly can also prevent them becoming water-logged and drowning.

Small gardens

Growing plants in containers is an easy way to create a versatile and vibrant display, regardless of the size of your outside space.

Choose the right container

Choosing the right container is key in helping your small space garden to thrive. They come in many shapes, sizes, colours, and materials. You can even recycle containers such as buckets, tins, or any old furniture. However, you have to ensure that your container is large enough to help your plants grow effectively, with the space and drainage they need!

Watering

Your container plants will not have access to water the way those growing in the ground would. Ensure that you water your container plants regularly, especially those in direct sunlight. On hot days in the summer, make watering your container plants part of your daily routine in the morning and evening, ideally placing the containers near to a water source to make your job a bit easier.

Container plants

Almost any vegetable, flower, herb, shrub, or even small tree can grow in a container, meaning that you have the option to turn your small space into a vegetable garden. Planting dwarf or slow growing cultivars are ideal for container habitats – especially the smaller kind. Like every choice of plant, select those that suit the climate of your small space garden, based on the amount of sun or shade the container will receive.

Slow release fertiliser

Your plants will need nutrients throughout the growing season to thrive and become as gorgeous as possible. By adding slow release fertiliser to the soil you can ensure your plant receives a frequent dose of nutrients, often lacking in container pots. This will remove the worry of nutrient deficiency which can cause your plant to flower less or become susceptible to plant pests.