Balcony Gardens – Your Mini Oasis

 In Garden Design, News

London garden designers are well-aware of how precious outdoor spaces within cities have become. Space is at a premium and more apartment blocks are being constructed for the demand of housing with the increase in population. But at what cost? We are losing our green spaces and if we have learnt anything from the covid-19 pandemic is that we all need green open spaces for our wellbeing. This is where balconies are so important. That personal bit of outdoor space can be turned into a mini oasis to sit and relax in. I believe every apartment in the future should have a balcony garden. Balcony gardens are so important that even the Royal Horticultural Society have introduced it as a judged category at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Photo Credit: Matteo Carassale Design Credit: Cristina Mazzucchelli

Cristina Mazzucchelli has created this beautiful balcony garden. She says ‘The feeling is of being enveloped by the plants without being overwhelmed’


If you are on that journey of creating your balcony garden, there are a few things to think about. Firstly, measure the size of your balcony and the entrance to it. Last thing you want is to buy something too large that you cannot get through the door. You should also measure all other access points that you are going to have to bring materials through.
Think about the aspect of your balcony. If it is south facing, it is going to experience a lot of sun. Knowing the aspect of your balcony will help you determine what plants will grow successfully there. Think about prevailing winds. If you intend to sit out on the balcony, do some research on furniture and their dimensions. You want to make sure that you can sit and move around on your balcony comfortably. There are some very good options on the market these days. Cristina Mazzucchelli advises ‘Furniture that can fold away or is dual purpose to serve as storage is always a good idea in a small space’. Storage allows you to be able to put your bags of compost and some hand tools out of sight or a place to store cushions or a blanket.

Think about using containers that can be installed on the railings or balustrading of your balcony. This way they don’t take up floor space.

Design Credit: Cristina Mazzucchelli

On this balcony the planting provides privacy and screens the buildings beyond. A balance of evergreen and deciduous plants helps to make sure there is year-round interest. Cristina believes that it’s all about the right plant in the right place, respecting their needs to make them thrive.


Get creative with your balcony garden. Think about a theme that reflects you and your style. Balcony gardens are about dressing the space. You might have enjoyed and an African safari on holiday and want your balcony to bring back joyful memories of your trip there. Thinks about the colours you experienced there. Bring the heat of an African safari through red ochre, sandy beige, pink clay, yellow umber, orange sunset can be introduced onto your balcony in so many ways. If you have a plain wall, think about painting it in geometric African patterns like the Ndebele tribe paint their homes. You could hang some beautiful African face masks on the wall or an ornate Maasai beaded necklace. Think about your furnishings. You may like to introduce cane seats with African or animal prints as throw cushions. African clay cooking pots can make beautiful plant containers. In the planting use some of the colours but mix with grasses to give you that feel of the savannah.

You might want to extend the vibes of the room that leads out to the balcony. Cristina says that it is important to create a dialogue between the indoor and outdoor space.

Design Credit: Cristina Mazzucchelli

If you have the space, think about some artwork to place on the balcony. The piece does not have to be big but it will just add another element of interest into your garden.


Plants make a garden. If space is limited, then do not forget there is always the vertical space that can be used. You may prefer to green up some of the wall space with a living wall panel. This helps to free up some floor space. Choose plants that are happy growing in containers long term. Many people are now into growing their own fruit and veg. This can be done on a balcony. It is very on trend to grow ornamentals and edibles. Certain varieties of cherry tomatoes and strawberries can be grown in hanging baskets or wall mounted pots. Some plants are edimentals. These are plants that are not just ornamental but can also be eaten. Nasturtiums and calendula have the most beautiful orange flowers, but they can also be eaten in salads, put into ice cubes to add colour to your G&Ts. I would also put chillies and aubergines in this category as they look ornamental but can also be eaten.

Cristina’s tip is to think year-round interest. Evergreen plants will provide winter interest, helping lift your spirits through the short, cold, dreary days. Rosemary is a good option. It will also provide scent and it can be used in cooking. There are a variety of Pittosporums that will give you evergreen structure. You could also Trachelospermum jasminoides (evergreen jasmine) that can be trained up a wall. The flowers will provide scent. If you want something more unusual that looks a bit more tropical you could grow Cycas revoluta (sago palm).

If you like that naturalistic look mix some grasses like Nassella tenuissima, Brizia or Calamagrostis varia with colourful flowering perennials such as Salvias, Verbena, Perovskia, Erigeron Sanguisorba, Campanula, Achillea and Asters. Select plants that provide longer periods of flowering. Cristina says ‘Aim for a good balance between evergreen and deciduous plants. Leaves last longer than flowers so look at the shape and texture of foliage. Use perennials that have a long flowering period but do not take up too much space’

Even the smallest of balcony spaces can be turned into a colourful garden that lifts the spirits.


Remember you can also give your planting scheme a bit of a seasonal punch with annuals and bedding. I love geraniums. Not only do they come in lovely colours, but they are also slightly drought tolerant and if you keep dead heading them, they will continue to flower well into late autumn. For annuals look at Zinnia, Cosmos, Nigella, Californian Poppies, Cleome, Petunia, Trailing Verbena, and Nasturtiums.


If you find that your balcony is shady, think about greenery with different foliage to create textures. Use grass like Hakonechloa macra. Ferns can provide lushness and there are some good evergreen varieties like the Harts Tongue Fern. You can add a splash of colour through Astrantia and some of the hardy geraniums such as Geranium phaeum Raven and Geranium Anne Thomson or Wargrave Pink.

Try some of the miniature Hosta. My favourite is Hosta Mouse Ears. Epimediums are good for shade. The foliage provides beautiful tones of colour and texture whilst the flowers are very delicate looking. Gillenia trifoliata is lovely airy plant that will provide a frothy texture to your scheme.

Design Credit: Cristina Mazzucchelli

Lighting is important in any garden. It helps to create a cosy ambience in the space but also allows you to use your garden at night. Use light to highlight specimen plants and create unusual shadows on the wall. This all adds to the mood and atmosphere on your balcony garden


Don’t forget your early spring colour. Bulbs provide that wonderful spring surprise. Tuck in bulbs between your plants. One of my favourites is Narcissus tete a tete. Try the smaller varieties of tulips like the multi-headed Tulipa turkestanica with its creamy white petals and yellow. Another is Tulipa bakeri Lilac Wonder that has lilac pink petals with a yellow centre.

Eucomis or Fritillaria imperalis make impact. Grow them in groups of three in a pot. They also have beautiful seed heads which extends their season of interest.

Think outside the box for sources of inspiration. This image could be a source of inspiration for the colour palette of your plants or the whole balcony. You could use some of the graphic geometric patterns to create panels on a wall. The sources of inspiration are limitless.


This is quite important and there are different options available. If you are lucky enough to have a tap on the balcony, think about installing some irrigation with a digital time. This is something that can be easily done. If you do not have an outdoor tap, then you will need to hand water. If this is the case, add in some water retaining gel granules into the soil. These will absorb the water and release it slowly as and when the plants need it. Another option is to use the mona plantsava irrigation tanks. These come in different sizes. The size you use is dependent on the size of your container. The tank is buried in the soil and a tube pops up at the top. You can fill the tank with water through this tube. The plants and then absorb the water as and when they need it. There is a clever little stick inside the tube that tells you when the tank needs re-filling. Cristina advises to check drainage. Afterall you do not want water leaking onto the neighbouring balcony below.


Keep it subtle. You want to create a calm relaxing atmosphere not Blackpool illuminations.

Think about some solar lights with LED bulbs that can be tucked amongst the plants. Lights can create interesting shadows which adds to the ambience in your mini oasis. Maybe some fairy lights or a couple of storm lanterns will provide just a moody glow.

Design Credit: Cristina Mazzucchelli

If your balcony is shady then work with different shade of green, form and texture. Don’t forget that you can also use the vertical space on your balcony. Cristina rightly says that foliage lasts longer than flowers.

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