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Balcony Garden Before-and-Afters!

See how we transformed our balcony into an urban oasis:

We started with a cement balcony with an A/C wall unit, a closet, and a metal railing. We wanted to green up the space, and being winter, our first addition was a plant rack, followed by a strip of turf, bamboo fencing (for the cats), and string lights.

This was a great starting point for us to start growing plants from seed throughout the spring, as well as acquire some cold hardy varieties of plants. We also added a thermometer, which informed us about the microclimate on our balcony being about 20 degrees warmer than the forecasted temperatures, which was great news in terms of plant selection! (We live in a zone 6B, but our balcony is at least a 7B). Here is our "blank canvas," and what it's grown into now!


Before photo of balcony with plant shelf and turf


After photo of balcony garden with plant shelves for vertical gardening in a small space

Here's a look at our plant rack once we started filling it in, early on in the spring. We have a few herbs growing, more started, and some cacti. By summer, we have a lush, green wall, providing shade and privacy to our balcony table:


Balcony garden with wood plant rack


Small space gardening on a balcony

The change is most evident when you look at the seasonal change. In winter, even empty pots, green turf, and the warm glow from string lights make it feel like a backyard in summer! We planted mostly perennial plants, so next winter won't be so bare. In the spring, we got to watch our plants grow as the days got warmer. And when summer hit, everything exploded into flowers, multiple herb and fruit harvests, and a nice shady spot for us to sit. Even our prickly pear cacti grew many new pads:


balcony garden in winter with string lights


Balcony gardening in spring


Vertical privacy balcony garden


Growing native plants, edible plants and flowers on a balcony

Below: In the back you will see a Russian pomegranate (cold hardy), to the left you will see a cherry tomato and the other tomato on the right. Violas growing like crazy in the base of the pot. 

Pomegranate tree and violas growing in a container

Below: This is probably the most interesting plant on our balcony. This is known as a Pitcher Plant. These attract bugs with a sweet scent on the rim of the cup, when the bug lands, they slip and fall into a digestive fluid where it eats the bugs. 

Pitcher plant growing on a balcony

Below: This is a mix of Birdhouse Gourds, Raspberry Plants and Ginger all growing together in the shaded area of the balcony.  

Spaghetti Squash growing up a plant rack (small space garden)

Below: This is our collection of Opuntia cacti. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also edible! (especially the fruits)!

Opuntia Prickly Pears growing in pots on a balcony

 Below: We have a Better Boy tomato plant that is producing huge green fruit that should ripen soon.

Container heirloom tomatoes in a small space garden

 Below: Pink Okra, Lemon Cucumber, Mouse Melon Cucumber, sage and Little Marvel Peas growing as companion plants in a pot together. The Okra leaves fold down and shade the peas and cucumber plants which are more sensitive to the sun, and the sage protects the others from pests. 

Pink Okra, mouse melons, buena mulata pepper, and lemon cucumbers as companion plants in a container

If you want to know more about the plants that we are using, comment below! 

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