Gardenless gardening: How to create the perfect outdoor balcony space

balcony gardens
With a few plants and some creativity, you'll never want to leave your little oasis. Photo credit: Love the Garden.

If you're anything like me, the long weeks of lockdown made you miss the trees and plants of the outside world, and perhaps made you realise how little you have of them in your own home. 

This is especially true for those in inner-city apartments with small balconies. Often those 2sqm spaces can feel bare and lifeless, leaving you wondering how to fill them. 

Enter the 'balcony garden': a term which has over 474,000 tagged posts on Instagram, many of which put larger gardens to shame.

But knowing where to start in creating a cohesive oasis that matches up to our Pinterest boards can seem like a daunting task. 

The gardening experts at UK site Love The Garden are here to help, offering some inspiration on how to take a small space in your home and reimagine it as a sanctuary. 

Here are some possibilities for gardenless gardens both outside and inside city homes: 

Ways with wood 

If you have an outside space which already features wood, you're halfway there. With just a few touches and a little flourish, a functional outdoor living space with a natural, organic feel can be transformed. 

Complement the natural feel and look of the wood with other natural materials and of course, plenty of greenery.

Enhance your timber by offsetting it against:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Lovage

The minimalist retreat 

Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. This minimalist retreat uses the typical sleek and simple design of many inner-city balconies to make a feature of empty space. Nothing feels bare - in fact, the space offers a calming, peaceful and tranquil environment.

If you're trying to recreate this look on your balcony, opt for simple yet bold minimal plants and a calming, simple and stylish colour palette in greys and whites. 

Don't overcrowd your plants - instead strip things back and keep it simple with:

  • Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple)
  • Bamboo
  • Bonsai Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Chamaerops humilis

Bring the outdoors in 

Even without a balcony to revamp into an outdoor sanctuary, a gardenless garden is always a possibility - one can simply bring the outdoors in with a few well-chosen accessories to create an inviting and calming space.

Having a lot of houseplants is essential for this look. Hanging baskets are a great space-saving option, while larger plants offering plenty of greenery help with the feeling of transitioning from inside to out. By using different surfaces and textures you can easily create something that has a similar feeling to a balcony.

Create the outdoors in look with a selection of the following plants:

  • Snake plant
  • Cast iron plant
  • Boston Fern
  • Philodendron
  • Jade Plant
  • Pothos

The living wall

Everyone's heard of creating a statement wall in their home. But while this usually involves some brightly coloured paint or quirky wallpaper, consider taking the same approach on your balcony, just with plants. 

To get this look and ensure your living wall really stands out, it must immediately draw the eye, with the rest of the area designed with simplicity to enable the feature to sing. And remember, just opt for one striking wall to really make a statement.

Choose from the following to recreate the look:

  • Adiantum (maidenhair fern)
  • Care oshimensis 'Evergold' (sedge)
  • Fragaria 'Mara des Bois' (strawberry)
  • Galanthus (snowdrop)
  • Heuchera 'Purple Petticoats'
  • Liriope muscari (lilyturf)
  • Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese spurge)
  • Pelargonium peltatum (ivy-leaved geranium)

Whatever the space you're working with - whether outside or in - with a few key plants, some throws and furniture, soon you can create an outdoor oasis you'll never want to leave.