With the help of flower boxes, a balcony can go from being a bleak and bland extension that is rarely used to a beautiful and natural outdoor space. Use flower boxes to accessorize or entirely transform your balcony into your very own outdoor retreat. Once you figure out what you want to accomplish with the balcony plants, it comes down to making clever choices to achieve your objectives.
1. Space Savers
For the most lush balcony garden, use flower boxes that maximize your balcony garden's space. Strategically hang window boxes on the outside of your balcony railings to give you additional space, and if the plants cascade downward, the location will add to the view from below. If you use this strategy, exercise caution and follow installation instructions carefully so it is safe to walk beneath them. Using wall planters and hooks on the overhang above the balcony floor will also add color and lush greenery, while saving space for your balcony furniture and more plants.
2. Green Screen
Privacy can sometimes be an issue with urban balconies. Create a natural screen of greenery with shrubs, vines, clumps of tall-growing flowers and dwarf trees. This approach is not only suitable for giving you a privacy screen, but to bring shade to your retreat and block eyesores such as parking lots. Wherever you want the green screen, line the edge of your balcony next to the railing with rectangular trough containers that are long and narrow.
3. Creative Containers
Add a creative and stylish flair to your balcony with unusual flower boxes. Almost anything that can hold soil can be converted into a flower box by drilling holes in the bottom to allow draining. Some things you might consider are drawers from dressers, toy boxes, suitcases, old sinks, vintage wine boxes and half barrels. Avoid treated wood, specially if you will plant edibles, because the wood treatment will leach toxins into the soil. Disinfect the containers before placing your plants in their new homes.
4. Edible Gardening
Just because you may not have a big yard doesn't mean you can't have the satisfaction of home grown produce. Many vegetables and most culinary herbs are well suited for container growing. If you have a flower box that can hold five gallons of growing medium, you can use it for tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) and many other types of vegetables. Cherry tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme) and many types of peppers will grow in containers half that size, and leafy crops like spinach (Spinacia oleracea) are happy in a window box. Many culinary herbs that bring fragrance along with function and beauty to the balcony also grow well in window boxes.