A garden balcony can give you endless hours of serene pleasure, and the nice thing about such a haven is the fact that you can put one together yourself. Here are some tips you can use if you want to venture into DIY balcony gardening.

Create a plan // Have at least a basic picture of how you want your garden to look. Do you want a sculpted, Zen-like refuge or a lush flowering retreat? Think about where you will put tall plants and where you will put flowering plants, or succulents, or bonsai. Imagine the kind of containers and furniture you will need.

Take note of how nature acts in your balcony // Take a good look at your balcony and see how much sun and wind it gets. Identify which parts get full sun and which parts are shaded. You will also need to see how hot your balcony gets during the day and how windy the area is. All these factors will determine which plants will do well in this miniature ecosystem.

Take pictures // The pictures you take are not just for before-and-after comparisons. As you take pictures, take note of how much sunlight, shade, and wind each area gets. These photos will help you as you gather plants and accessories.

Shop for plants wisely // When you shop for plants, make sure you are armed with your photos and your notes on the microclimate in each corner of your balcony. This will help you choose the most appropriate plants for the garden you plan to grow. Be sure to ask for advice from your local nursery attendant regarding the varieties that will thrive at your place.

Look for the lightest possible containers // Be mindful of the size of the containers your plants will need; with a garden balcony, you want your containers to be as light as possible. Fortunately, nurseries now carry plastic pots and containers that look as if they were made of clay without weighing as much.

Plan for plant care // When you put your garden together, you have to consider how much care your garden will need and make your choices depending on how much effort it will take to care for the plants you choose. This is where you need to decide whether you will go for annuals or perennials; you will also need to decide if your water supply allows you to take on varieties that need to be kept in damp soil. If watering plants is difficult, don’t worry. Succulents and desert plant varieties can look just as beautiful.

Don’t forget your drainage // You will need good soil to make sure you potted plants have adequate drainage. In addition, you also have to see if the balcony itself drains well. The last thing you want is for excess water from your garden to drip down someone else’s balcony or patio. As a safety measure, put trays or plates under your pots so that water does not seep onto your balcony flooring.

Check building rules // Some apartments and condominium buildings have very specific rules about what you can put in your balcony. While most landlords and associations will allow you to have a few potted plants, some will not allow a full-fledged garden – especially if this includes a few trees and trellises.

If you have decided to transform your balcony into your own private oasis, good for you! Don’t worry if in the beginning a few plants die out on you, or if some don’t flourish as you think they should. With a little trial and error and some advice from your local nursery, you will soon have a thriving sanctuary to relax in. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself!

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