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Top 5 Reasons to Start a Terrace Garden:a Quick Start Guide to Create a Garden on a Terrace

Updated on August 1, 2020
Healthyannie profile image

I love gardening and plants. There is nothing I like better than to share my advice on gardening and plants, apart from growing them.

My Balcony Garden

My balcony garden in Spain after winter
My balcony garden in Spain after winter | Source

Terrace Gardens Are The Best

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t grow a small garden on your terrace.

You may only have a small space to work with but there is no reason why you can’t have a garden on your terrace. If you have a limited space for a garden, you should be can enjoy growing plants and watching wildlife.

Top 4 Reasons For A Terrace Garden

As a matter of fact, small green urban spaces are vital to wildlife and I never seize to be amazed at the amount of butterflies and birds that visit my balcony garden. Focusing on buying plants which attract wildlife also creates an interest, and makes your balcony garden come alive.

Plants absorb toxins such as carbons. Even a window box will help to cut down on air pollution.

Gardening is great therapy. Having your own garden, no matter how small, will help you to relax.

You grow your own fruit and vegetables in the middle of the city. Growing your own is surprising easy.

Fill your small garden with color to attract butterflies.
Fill your small garden with color to attract butterflies. | Source

Some Basic Facts About Terrace Gardening

Planning your terrace garden is as important as planting your garden. There are some basic facts to keep in mind.

  • What direction does your balcony face?
  • Water – where is your nearest water source?
  • Weight – make sure your pots are not too heavy.
  • The size of the plants is important as well. Do you want to have lots of plants or just a couple of big plants?
  • Is your terrace only going to be for your balcony garden, or do you need to share your garden space with other activities such as hanging out the laundry, eating, and family pets?
  • Do you want a high or low maintenance terrace garden?

All of these are important points to consider when you plan your balcony garden. Perhaps the most important point is the orientation of your balcony. My balcony is south facing so it is subject to warm winds, and lots of sunshine. It is very important that your plants like the direction, or orientation, of your balcony as much as you do.

Winter Plants

My Christmas Cactus is moved to a cooler spot during the summer
My Christmas Cactus is moved to a cooler spot during the summer | Source

Best Plants For A Balcony Garden

Once you have found out in which direction your balcony faces, it is time to plan your planting. My terrace is south facing and I live in a warm climate. Cactus and succulents thrive on my terrace.

Over the winter my balcony garden gets a bit of a rest, and I change the plants to more low maintenance plants such as Christmas Cactus which love the south facing orientation.

If you are keen on providing a small sanctuary for wildlife, it is a good idea to take that into consideration. It is also nice to be able to create a colorful garden. Here are some ideas on what plants you should buy for your terrace garden.

Plant Ideas for Small Gardens or Balconies

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Succulents and cactus flower and don't need a lot of waterTry growing your own tomatoesColorful plants bring your small places alivePansies and violets like a bit of shadeMy old Yorkie loves the balcony as much as I do.
Succulents and cactus flower and don't need a lot of water
Succulents and cactus flower and don't need a lot of water | Source
Try growing your own tomatoes
Try growing your own tomatoes | Source
Colorful plants bring your small places alive
Colorful plants bring your small places alive | Source
Pansies and violets like a bit of shade
Pansies and violets like a bit of shade | Source
My old Yorkie loves the balcony as much as I do.
My old Yorkie loves the balcony as much as I do. | Source

Getting in touch with your inner gardener

Do you think you have green fingers?

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Handy Hints

To Buy
Don't throw away
Watering Can
Size of plant
Annual or Perennial
Excess Compost
Plant Food
Good for wildlife - yes or no
Care instructions
Water Retention Crystals
Good Drainage
Plastic bags can be used for replanting

No more mosquitoes with lavender

Butterflies and insects love lavender. Mosquitoes hate them.
Butterflies and insects love lavender. Mosquitoes hate them. | Source

Best Plants For A South Facing Balcony Garden

Lavender – a great herb for your balcony. It is loved by both birds, butterflies, and other useful insects.

Rosemary – rosemary is another plant loved by wildlife.

Kalanchoe – a small plant that flowers for a long time but does not need a massive amount of water.

Tomatoes – tomatoes often do well on a south-facing balcony.

Cactus and succulents – many varieties of succulents flower. What makes them such great balcony plants? The main advantage of growing succulents and cactus on your balcony is that they don't need a lot of water.

Rosemary Looks Great In Pots

Rosemary always puts on a wonderful display.
Rosemary always puts on a wonderful display. | Source

Best Plants For A North Facing Balcony Garden

Buddleia – commonly known as the butterfly bush as it attracts butterflies.

Geranium – geraniums are great for brightening up a north-facing balcony.

House leeks – don’t need a lot of water but grow quickly and can be very interesting. They are also very tolerant of cold weather and winds.

Gooseberry bushes – gooseberry bushes tend to do well on north-facing balconies

Rosemary – Rosemary is quite hardy and can handle quite cold temperatures

Best Plants For An East Facing Balcony

Heather – you do get some summer flowering varieties.

Pansies – pansies are very colorful and blooms last a long time

Carnations and pinks – also very colorful and can be scented

Honeysuckle – a climber such as honeysuckles do well and add scent to your balcony. Grow outside of your bedroom for scent sensation.

Blueberries – blueberries in pots are just as delicious as their wild-grown cousins

Best Plants For a West Facing Balcony

Angelica – this is a big showy herb and they always grow better in a Western direction. It also keeps mosquitoes away.

Roses – both climbing and standard roses can be grown on balconies

Courgettes – courgettes (zucchini) have the most amazing flowers and you get to enjoy your own vegetables.

Grasses – there are lots of interesting grasses you can grow on a balcony. Avoid pampas grass as it grows too tall

Bamboo – bamboo plants are not too large and you can easily create a Chinese themed balcony.

More on Water Retaining Crystals

The Best Composts, Fertilizers, Pots and Plant Crystals For Terrace Gardens

It is important to buy good quality compost for your balcony garden.

If you initially invest in better quality compost you don’t need to change the compost that often. Good quality composts also tend to retain more moisture, and saving on water usage is important.

There are many great fertilizers on the market but try to find a good natural fertilizer or plant feed. There are some really good available which both look after your plants and do not cause harm visiting wildlife.

Pots are also important. In general I use plastic pots as they are not only lighter but they are not affected by frost. They are also a lot easier to move around, and lift up to put on a table for general plant maintenance.

Plant crystals are a fantastic solution for smaller and medium sized pots. They work by retaining water so you need to water less to maintain your balcony garden. I use them as my terrace gets hot very quickly.

Water Storing Crystals from Miracle-Gro - Best in Test

Add a bit of fun to your pots

Is he trying to escape? A terracotta turtle hiding in the plants.
Is he trying to escape? A terracotta turtle hiding in the plants. | Source

More to Gardening Than Plants

Plants are great but there are many things which you also liven up and brighten up your balcony.

Garden ornaments look great on the balcony as well. You can always add wind chimes but might disturb the neighbors on windy nights. Consider perhaps swapping your wind chimes for dream catchers or sun catchers.

Somewhere to sit and enjoy your small green space is important.
Somewhere to sit and enjoy your small green space is important. | Source

Making a seating area nice and welcoming is another, often welcomed, idea for your balcony garden. Even a small table with a couple of chairs make a nice addition, and you can add some candles for that extra special touch.

Mirrors might even be a good idea if you would like to give some of your plants some extra reflected light.

Important Things to Remember Before You Get Started

  • Where is your water? How far is your water?
  • How big will a plant get?
  • Direction – north, south, east and west.
  • Drainage – don’t forget your plants will need good drainage
  • Quality compost
  • Don’t throw away water from boiled vegetables or lentils- it makes excellent plant feed.

© 2014 Annie Messeri


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