If you have a green thumb as a resident of New York City, I’m sure you’re a pro at creating a garden without a garden. As these gardeners can tell you, the lack of a lush, green yard doesn’t need to put a stop on sprucing up your outdoor space! Balcony gardens can serve dual purposes, from hosting small vegetable and herb plants, to providing a relaxing outdoor space. If you’re looking to dig a little deeper into creating a green space of your own this spring, here are a few quick tips on how you can welcome Mother Nature to your floor!
What’s the Weather?
Before we run off the your local nursery to pick up succulents and bulbs, consider the location of your balcony. How much sunlight do you get, and for how many hours? Is there a lot of shaded space? Does your balcony tend to be windy? These pre-nursery questions and answers will help you determine what type of plants will flourish best in your outdoor space.
Picking Your Plants
Once you know what your balcony environment is like, you’re ready for a trip to your local garden center! As a new balcony gardener myself, I don’t hesitate in asking store associates for their direction in what plants will be happiest in my new green space.
Plant Shed on West 96th Street has a marvelous collection of plants – specifically for outdoors! How easy is that? My favorite simple, yet colorful look they helped me build includes fuchsia geraniums, golden reiger begonias, and a few vines of English ivy. If you like to include fresh herbs in your cooking, Plant Shed also has a great selection of herbs – from basil, dill, chives, parsley, spearmint, and fresh cilantro. Not only does my balcony look great… It smells fresh, too!
Gardener to Gardener Tip: If you decide to pick out flowers solo, make sure you’re buying plants that are meant to live outside!
Urban Garden Center is another favorite pick. Open everyday from 9 am to 7 pm, these guys have the know-how when it comes to small space gardens. Besides selling blooming buds and offering expertise on planting, Urban Garden Center offers professional garden designs for balconies, rooftops, courtyards, and terraces in Manhattan. They also pride themselves with using environment-friendly gardening methods in their 20,000 square foot outdoor garden center. They’re all about locally grown and organic plants, too!
Vases, Pots, and Baskets… Oh My!
Now that you have your succulents, bulbs, and budding flowers, naturally you need something to put it all in! Garden World has affordable pricing to make it easy (and fun!) to pair your greenery with nutritious soils, plant food, and of course decorative pots and baskets. They encourage you to take advantage of their experienced green-thumbed staff and ask all of your gardening questions away!
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For those DIYers out there, here are some great crafty ideas for you:
- Hanging plants and flower boxes – can be seen but don’t take up valuable space
- Use wine boxes or crates as rustic flower beds
- Mount metal containers to a secure wall
- Plant your fresh herbs in weathered, wooden milk crates
- Get crafty and paint your pottery with fun designs and colors
Gardener to Gardener Tip: Be sure to check with your apartment complex before hanging flower boxes off a railing, or mounting a planting structure to your balcony wall.
Your Outdoor Decor
Since New York City balconies are notorious for being on the smaller side, it’s important to not go overboard with your potted plants and accessories. This is the perfect example of less is more – so keep it simple! With 3 or 4 potted plants, a small table and chairs (I have a small wicker loveseat on my balcony), and a colorful patterned rug, you’re all set!
Add pops of color with throw pillows, a warm glow with outdoor string lights, a fresh and clean look with a tablecloth, and a some fun character with a little garden gnome!