Have you bought a new build home with a small garden or a brand-new apartment with limited balcony space? Perhaps you are wondering how you can make best use of such areas?
We share some of our best ideas for small gardens and balconies. Take a look – you might just find the inspiration you need.
Have an idea what you want
Before you start decorating your balcony or go out buying plants or furniture for your garden, take time to think of how you will use the space. What will you want to use your garden or balcony for? Will it be for relaxing in? Perhaps you are very social and like to entertain with some alfresco dining. Maybe you want an abundance of colour and fragrance, filling the space with flowers and plants. Or do you plan on being self-sufficient growing some fruit or vegetables, which can still be done, even when space is limited.
It pays to know how you will use the space to understand what it could look like, and what can go where. Another tip before you get started, is to understand the direction of your garden or balcony. Which are the sunnier or shadier spots? When and for how long is the sun on your balcony or in the garden? This can have a bearing on where you position not only plants, but your seating too.
Go upwards – make use of walls and fences
When you don’t have a lot of space per square foot on the ground, then go upwards. Use exterior walls or boundary fences to gain extra space for everything from plants to decorations – even furniture! Yes, if you are struggling for room on the ground, take a look at some of the hanging furniture which is very popular and widely available these days. It might just buy you that little bit of extra room for some additional plants.
Climbing plants are a good option for a balcony or fence – although you will need to keep such plants well pruned to stop them getting out of control and encroaching on neighbours’ properties.
Adding some outdoor shelving up sturdy walls or fences can help you take smaller pots up a height and off the floor. Pots of herbs are a good shout for this idea, and it means they are in easy reach when you need them for cooking.
Create the illusion of bigger
Just because your outdoor space is small doesn’t mean you have to settle for everything else being teeny tiny. In fact, one of the best ways to create the illusion of bigger, especially in a garden, is to grow plants with some height. We don’t mean huge trees and conifers – instead look for plants which stretch a little taller.
Some ideas include lupins, which come in many beautiful colours and are quite straightforward to look after, preferring full or partial sunshine. The lofty columns of Verbena with their tiny purple flowers look stunning up against a wall, plus they are a popular hit with the bees. They like a spot which gets full sunshine.
And if you really want to go for something tall and lofty, then the trusty sunflower which can grow to anywhere near 4m, doesn’t take up much space on the ground. Sunshine is a must for these, too.
It is important when you pick tall flowers and plants, that you check how much sun they need. If you put such a plant in a shady spot, it will only lean towards the light which might make your small space look cluttered, even messy.
Add some reflection
Another tip to help your small garden, maybe even your balcony, look bigger, is to include a mirror. If you have the wall or fence space for a mirror, then position one to reflect lots of the greenery, colour, and vibrancy of your plants. This will help create the illusion of more space. Acrylic mirrors are best as they are lightweight, shatterproof, and more versatile, although they are slightly less reflective.
One thing to note is that outdoor mirrors can be a danger to birds who become confused by their large reflection and can then fly into them. There are tips to try and prevent this, including using one large mirror divided into smaller sections, or using a few smaller mirrors on the wall. Less reflective mirrors are also a good preventative option.
You should also avoid putting any mirrors, especially glass mirrors, in a position where there’s direct sunlight for long periods.
Don’t worry about the lack of sunshine
Don’t despair if your garden or balcony isn’t blessed with wall-to-wall sunshine all day every day. You can achieve just as good results with planting and growing if you have an abundance of shade.
Ferns thrive in the shade and look stunning when their leaves uncurl. They require little maintenance too. If you are potting a fern, use a well-draining soil and don’t overwater it as the roots shouldn’t be constantly wet. Misting a fern occasionally will be beneficial.
The ideal herbs to grow in the shade include the likes of mint and parsley, which grow happily without constant sunshine. Likewise, there is a whole host of shade tolerant blooms to choose from, including begonia, fuchsia, and calendula to name a few.
And just think, if your outdoor space is shady, when it is exceptionally hot and sunny, you won’t need to invest in parasols or other shade-creating solutions for your space.
With less room to play with in a small garden or apartment balcony, multifunctional is the way forward.
If you don’t have the space to keep tables and chairs up twenty-four seven, then opt for furniture which can be folded away and rested against a wall. That way it’s easy to whisk out and set up if friends come for a cup of coffee.
And if you are tight on space but want to do lots of growing, then swap flowers for your own vegetables. Include some simple produce in with your regular collection of plants such as tomato plants, chilli plants, even dwarf or runner beans, which can all be easily grown in pots. Who says a patio is just for flowers? You can even grow vegetables in a raised bed alongside flowers in a small garden.
Recycle and reuse to see your budget go further
There are plenty of options in garden centres and other retail outlets for items for your garden. But take a look around at what you have, or what friends and family members might be throwing away. Can you be creative and recycle or reuse anything that people no longer want? For example, an old pallet can be used to make outdoor shelving fixed to a wall. Even bits of old pipework can be fixed up high to hang pots from, or even bird feeders.
If your budget is tight since moving into your new home, then it makes even better sense to reuse rather than buy new. Instead of buying brand new pots, large or small, why not see what you can find to grow small plants, even herbs in. Of course, if space is at a premium then you don’t want anything too big. But old fashioned kettles, metal bins, wellington boots, even old wooden chairs can be transformed into places for nestling pots.
If you can be imaginative and breathe new life into throw away items, you can make your small garden or balcony space look even more unique.
A splash of colour
Even though it’s outside, you can still benefit from colour. It’s amazing how much you can transform an outdoor space with a splash of bright paint. Whether it’s painting part of a wall a different colour as a backdrop to some beautiful florals, or painting the whole of a balcony white, colour can help to open up a small space.
No matter if it’s a garden or a balcony, you can massively transform something small into something beautiful with a few creative, and affordable ideas.
Whether you are a first-time buyer looking to buy a new-build home or apartment, or you are looking to downsize from a large family home to something smaller that’s new and affordable to run, we can help you find your dream home. We list new build homes and apartments from developers large and small across the country. All you need to do is search in the location you would most like to live. Start your search here.