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5 Great Outdoor Ideas for Apartment Balconies

Updated on April 11, 2014

Maximizing Space: Some Great Outdoor Ideas for Apartment Balconies

Apartment living is good, and it can be GREAT if you have some outdoor ideas for your apartment balconies. When you want to enjoy the outside world; not having a yard to relax in can be a real bummer. And, if you're not on the first floor of your building, your access to the outdoors is even more limited.

This was the situation my husband and I were in when we first moved in to our new place.

Here are a few simple ways to spruce up your apartment balcony or patio, so you can enjoy the outdoors despite being short on space.

Make your balcony reflect your personality with these fun ideas!

Photos courtesy of

Bird Feeder for Glass Door or Window

Effortless Nature Viewing

A bird feeder is an excellent, low-maintenance way to enjoy nature while living in an apartment. As long as you keep the feeder full of bird seed, you can enjoy a nice variety of birds from the comfort of your couch.

The bird feeders that attach to a glass door or window are especially great. I have that type myself, and it allows me to get within a few inches of the birds while they feed. Just make sure to walk slowly so you don't startle them! If you have a bird feeder with a one way mirror, that also helps to keep them from seeing you.

Our cat loves it the most, though. She stalks them slowly and then pounces, sometimes forgetting that there's a window there! She can spend hours watching the feeder, and it makes me happy to know that she can be occupied and entertained while my husband and I are gone.

Container Gardening Outdoors on Your Apartment Balcony

Gardening with Inches Instead of Acres

Container gardening is an excellent way to grow your own fruits and vegetables in limited space. There are countless sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns of containers out there, so find one that reflects your personality and space.

By grouping plants together, you can fit diverse items into a single pot. For example, you can pair a partial-shade vegetable like kale with a partial-shade flower, such as an iris. Or you could grow a vining plant, such as morning glories, to wrap around your balcony railing. You can even grow tall flowers, like sunflowers, which are beautiful from a long distance and really make your balcony stand out from the others.

Experiment to find the best plants for your personality and gardening zone! The possibilities are endless.

Below are some excellent guides to get you started.

Container Garden Tower - For the Advanced, Ultra Space-Efficient Gardener

Below, Shawna Coronado from The Casual Gardener shows how to make a tower container garden. This would be an awesome way to take full advantage of the limited space on a balcony or deck! You can fit many different plants into a small area.

Ups-A-Daisy Gardening Discs - Essential for Tower Planters

As shown in the video, these are Ups-A-Daisy discs. They are perfect for allowing drainage between the tower levels. Simply measure the various tower containers, and then order the appropriate disc for each level. The disc should fit well in the bottom with no large gaps between the sides of the container.

Chairs and a Table

Creating a Cozy Feel

Putting chairs and a table on your balcony is an easy way to create a relaxing outdoor hangout spot. It's great to have a place outside to enjoy a cup of tea, read a book, eat supper, or watch the sunset. They don't have to cost an arm and a leg, either. Since a balcony usually has a small amount of space, it works perfectly to purchase more compact table sets. These usually also have a smaller price tag to go with it.

A word of advice- measure your balcony space before you commit to a set that you like. You'll want to leave enough elbow room for at least two chairs, and possibly a café-style table or end table.

It's important to select chairs and tables that are specifically made for the outdoors. It would be a shame to spend money on a beautiful set, only to have it destroyed by a winter blizzard or a strong summer thunderstorm. Fortunately, there are plenty of options with sturdy plastic, wicker, or aluminum that are designed specifically for apartment-dwellers.

Balcony Railing Garden

Hanging Out with Herbs

Although the balcony railing may block a bit of sunlight coming into your apartment, it also creates an excellent opportunity to make an easy garden. You can plant your favorite flowers or herbs in a railing box or basket and still utilize your balcony floor space for other items.

Many stores sell baskets specifically made for apartment railings. They have clips or hooks that securely attach to the top of the railing, hanging over either side. Make sure to pay attention to where you hang the basket, and plan accordingly for whether you will have shade or sun-loving plants.

Herbs make excellent choices for railing gardens, because you can fit many small plants in a neat row. Chives, rosemary, parsley, and oregano are all excellent options for an herb garden. Beware of some plants, such as mint, which grow very well in railing gardens but have a tendency to spread widely and end up sticking out of all the sides of the basket.

Window Nest Box

An Inside Scoop

Adding a window nest box to a sliding glass door or window is a great way to get the inside look of a bird's life. Simply hang the box on your window and, come spring, you can get a close up view of a mama bird with her nest. Many of these boxes contain black-out portions, so that you can get close to the box without the bird seeing you.

However, make sure that the box is placed in a secure area, somewhere that won't be frequently disturbed. It would be a bad idea to place it on a sliding glass door; the mama bird doesn't want her house moved every time you walk outside. Also, you wouldn't want the box too close to an area visited often. Hanging it a few feet from your tables and chairs, for example, would create a jittery, possibly aggressive mama bird.

Balcony Basics

What do you have on your deck or balcony?

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So, what about you? How have you created a balcony that reflects your personality? Have you tried any of the tips listed above? What has your experience been? Tell us here.

Balcony Banter - Guestbook Comments

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    • jcortright profile image

      jcortright 3 years ago

      @anonymous: We have two chairs on our balcony, and it makes a big difference to us!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I like your idea of chairs and a table creating a cozy feel. Three months ago, after living in the same apartment for 12 years, I moved into a house that was built back in 1940. It's less than 1,000 square feet and there's a lot of work to be done but I love the place. They just don't build them like this anymore.

      I don't have a deck or a patio but there is a nice-sized porch that sits just outside the kitchen door. I think that would be a great spot for a table and a couple of chairs.

      Great lens, by-the-way - thanks for sharing.

    • jcortright profile image

      jcortright 4 years ago

      @jimporsche86: I have one and absolutely love it! It's great to have a little outdoor space!

    • jcortright profile image

      jcortright 4 years ago

      @lbrummer: Thanks!

    • jcortright profile image

      jcortright 4 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Thanks! I'll be sure to do that.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 4 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Great ideas for balcony gardens. Blessed!!

    • profile image

      jimporsche86 4 years ago

      I do not have a balcony but if I did it would be awesome. :)

    • Rosanna Grace profile image

      Rosanna Grace 4 years ago

      Lovely lens with lots of useful tips! Well done! :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Welcome to Squidoo and the Rocket Squid Program. Vey nice lens, I loved it.

      Rocket Squid tip, remember to credit your photos even if they are your own. Blessed.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      Great ideas for a balcony!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great Ideas ! thanks for sharing info !

    • profile image

      infoprogirl 4 years ago

      Great info. This was a challenge that I faced when living in our old apartment....too little space. Thanks for sharing these ideas on getting the most out of the space you do have on your balcony. Nice job

    • profile image

      bigpoppa3ross 4 years ago

      Great lens on apartments. Don't read to much online about apartment living. You may have hit upon something. Keep working at it.

    • jcortright profile image

      jcortright 4 years ago

      Thanks! Since we've been living in an apartment for a while, we've had to get creative with enjoying our limited outdoor space! Glad you liked it!

    • profile image

      MiaMusement 4 years ago

      These ideas for apartment balconies truly are "great" -- just like your title promised. Welcome to Squidoo!

    • Digory LM profile image

      Digory LM 4 years ago

      Nice lens. I really like the photos.

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 4 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Great ideas you have here! I could learn a thing or two and will try to spruce up our own balcony garden ^_^

    • profile image

      webmavern 4 years ago

      You have some great ideas and suggestions here. I like the idea of making an outdoor "room" no matter what space you have. Great lens, thanks!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your ideas! This is a very nice lens, Blessed by takkhis! :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Lovely lens! I really enjoy seeing balconies that look "homey." You have some really great suggestions here!