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The dream of the green balcony

Where do you want to sit on a warm summer evening? Where’s the perfect place for a sunny breakfast or for a cooling sit-down in the shade? The balcony, of course, among flowers, vegetables, plants and climbers. Here’s how to create an inviting balcony or porch.

A balcony, a small patio or an atrium is the true essence of compact living. Trying to fit everything into a limited space; somewhere to sit or lie down, a table to eat at or to keep pots and plants on. And all the green growth that provides the ambience, the green outdoors feeling.
“Start with the floor or ground. The feeling you get from walking barefoot on a wooden floor is wonderful. Wooden slats are quite cheap and can easily be replaced. Moreover, they don’t cool down or heat up as quickly as stone”, says Heribert Wettels at GARDENA.

It’s always nice to have a place to sit or lie down. Foldable furniture is the way to go if you have a limited amount of space and a storage box can provide both a place to keep tools or pots as well as double as a place to sit. Soft cushions, pillows or blankets can help make the nights cosier. If your balcony is windy, a windbreaker might be a welcome addition and it doesn’t have to be more than a meter to provide ample protection. Use braided branches of willow or a trellis covered in climbers to provide protection as well as create a nice “roomy” atmosphere. Don’t forget lights! Candles or tea lights need glass or crystal covers or they’ll just be extinguished by the wind. Coloured lanterns can help spread a festive feeling and kerosene lamps provide both light and warmth.

Plants that are grown in pots or boxes have a limited amount of space for their roots. “This is why one should buy potting mix developed for potted plants. The potting mix needs to be loose, nutritious and also be able to store moisture. Cheap potting mix won’t manage this”, says Heribert Wettels. The pots or boxes used for plants should be fitted with holes in the bottom for the drainage. Wooden boxes should be laminated or covered on the inside with plastic so that they don’t rot – but don’t forget about the drainage. Potted plants need to be watered on a regular basis due to the fact that the roots can’t forage for water on their own; you can construct a “waterbed” (see below) to help with this.

A balcony, a small patio or an atrium is the true essence of compact living. Trying to fit everything into a limited space: somewhere to sit or lie down, a table to eat at or to keep pots and plants on. And all the green growth that provides the ambience, the green outdoors feeling.
“Start with the floor or ground. The feeling you get from walking barefoot on a wooden floor is wonderful. Wooden slats are quite cheap and can easily be replaced. Moreover, they don’t cool down or heat up as quickly as stone”, says Heribert Wettels at Gardena.

There’s always nice to have a place to sit or lie down. Foldable furniture is the way to go if you have a limited amount of space. A regular box can provide both a place to keep tools or pots as well as double as a place to sit. Soft cushions, pillows or blankets can help make the nights cosier. If your balcony is windy, a windbreaker might be a welcome addition. It doesn’t have to be more than a meter to provide ample protection. Use braided branches of willow or a trellis covered in climbers can provide both protection as well as create a nice “roomy” atmosphere.
Don’t forget lights! Candles or tealights need glass or crystal covers or they’ll just be extinguished by the wind. Coloured lanterns can help spread a festive feeling and kerosene lamps provide both light and warmth.

Plants that are grown in pots or boxes have a limited amount of space for their roots.
“This is why one should buy potting mix developed for potted plants. The potting mix needs to be loose, nutritious and also be able to store moisture. Cheap potting mix won’t manage this”, says Heribert Wettels.
The pots or boxes used for plants should be fitted with holes in the bottom for the drainage. Wooden boxes should be laminated or covered on the inside with plastic so that they don’t rot – but don’t forget about the drainage.
Potted plants needs to be watered on a regular basis due to the fact that the roots can’t “forage for water” on their own. You can construct a “waterbed” (see below)

How to construct a waterbed

Line the inside and the bottom of the pot or box with plastic. Insert a drainage pipe that sticks up and over the edge of the pot (this is where you’ll pour the water in). Fill the pot with LECA pebbles (approximately 10 centimetres) and cover with topsoil. Make a hole for drainage just above the LECA pebbles that’ll act as a small water depository.

Plants during wintertime

Usually, perennial plants can survive winter on a balcony, make sure you select hardy plants – check with your local garden centre. By covering your plants in insulating materials like Styrofoam, straw or old comforters you can help them survive the winter’s cold. Wind some plastic or a tarpaulin around them to protect them from moisture, but leave a small opening to allow them to breathe. Place the plants close to a wall.

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