Condo balconies are often left in the dark especially in the city of Toronto. Condo owners and tenants often add a chair, table, bubble chair or other forms of furniture. However, only a few think about making a small balcony garden, and to many, the idea was once impossible.
Now, it is a possibility.
A balcony garden is a place of beauty and delight and a perfect spot for creating a small oasis of nature. Science has often proved the restorative effects of nature in humans and since a balcony garden is known as an oasis for the condo, it will surely liven up the mood of the tenant of a stylish Toronto condo.
With some plants, pots and some creativity in turning old stuff useful for the balcony, let us have a look at some tips to help turn the balcony into a balcony garden.
1. Checking the condo’s rules
When intending to create a balcony garden, it would be wise to check the rules of the condo building first. It isn’t fun when you must tear down what you created carefully. Check the condo agreement (or the rental one). If there are no permissions for creating a garden then it is best to ask the landlord, superintendent or the condo board in case if there are any restrictions.
Building rules often do not allow any greenery hanging over balcony edges as well as any wines going up the walls. Additionally, they may have restrictions of size and weight on the pants. In case the rules are quite stringent and rigid, placing small planters strategically can help create great spaces.
The situation can be different on small buildings as they do not have much hard and fast rules. This does give the tenant freedom in planting plants on the balcony. However, those plants should not encroach others’ property else complaints will then lead the building management creating a set of new, stringent rules.
2. Making use of small space the European way
The potential of small gardens has often been ignored in North America, but in Europe, they hold strong potential. Europeans have often taken advantage of their balconies and other small spaces in creating beautiful and carefully designed gardens.
You will see balconies of European balconies and apartments laden with plants and small seats. In fact, this European tradition of small gardens goes all the way back to the medieval times when small herb gardens can be found in high castle towers.
It would best for tenants to decide how much space they want for a seating area with a table as it will be the garden’s focus point. Having plants at the sides will spruce up the seating area with greenery. Such an area should be in front of windows which gives a good view from the inside.
Around the seating arrangement, place small plants close to them with large plants around the sides. This gives a feeling of sitting in nature. It hides the balcony’s edges with organic growth.
It is best to keep the plants and their containers as simple as possible. Strong plastic containers are strong and lightweight despite their looks. Hence, let containers hold the plants and let the plants bring beautify the balcony.
For some extra brilliance, using string lights in illuminating such a space at night is a brilliant idea. Such a glow goes through the leaves in a pattern which creates an aura of European comfort.
3. Plant the plants according to Toronto’s climate
What you want to grow on your condo’s balcony requires sun, water and good soil. This works directly with the climate zone. If you are a resident of either Houston, New Orleans or Miami, then your plants can get ample sunlight and favorable winds.
However, since Toronto is in the North, plants in condo balconies of Toronto are unlikely to get the needed exposure. Hence, shade loving plants will work. Wind must also be considered especially if the condo is above the eighth floor because they are most likely to face strong winds which only a hard plant can endure.
Hence, for your condo’s balcony, select plants that can survive cold climates and high-rise conditions.
4. Do not hesitate in mixing and matching plants in the pots
Those who are gardening for the first time do not understand that the same container can hold many plants. This is a technique that makes container gardens amazing.
Like florists combine many plants in bouquets, this is the same way medieval herb gardens merged many plants and vines in small castle spaces. This variety helps create a natural and organic appearance.
Using two different plants in one container creates a much more interesting space, by combining a low coverage plant and a high sprouting vine or flower together. The coverage plant will go over the container’s edges while high vines and flowers go in the sky. Among the plants that work well in this regard are gypsophila, creeping jenny and false spirea.
5. Trees and balcony gratings go along well
These two are a great way to bring greenery to any balcony’s space, particularly Toronto condos balcony. They would feel low, empty and barren if neither are present. Dense trees help stop the wind, thus protecting wind sensitive plants.
Balcony gratings are not allowed in all buildings. If they are allowed in certain buildings, then condo owners there must fasten them to balcony railings with ropes or zip ties. Do not use a twine as it will eventually rot.
Balcony gratings help cover large areas in greenery without occupying much space. Plants such as honey suckle and climbing hydrangea go along well with them.
Cedar, fir and pine are those conifer trees that can withstand strong winds of Toronto and work well on condo balcony gardens. Kentia palms can work but in less windswept conditions (i.e. below the eight story) and offer more dense protection and shade than most conifer trees.
It must be kept in mind that trees should be planted in containers that are 22 inches deep and are wide enough to allow the roots to grow in a healthy manner.
No balcony deserves to be left out as a desolate space. It can serve as a green oasis above the ground nearing the sky. When it comes to your condo in Toronto, it can serve as a beautiful mini sky garden that help give you a unique view of the city.
A little bit of work, effort and creativity will bring nature to home. It will help you relax and recuperate in a cozy green environment giving you purified air and aura.