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Create a Garden on Your Condo Balcony

It may be fall, but spring isn’t too far away. Here are some great tips, from Jennifer Lasko, Vancouver gardening expert, on how to garden in your condo’s outdoor space. Start planning now so that you’ll be ready when warmer weather comes!

thumb Container gardening is more popular now than ever. From people who are downsizing to first-home buyers getting into the market, condo dwellers can create a nice garden space without a massive yard. Container gardening is a great solution!

And even if you don't live in a condo or townhouse, you can create vignettes with containers, add focal points to your garden and change your look with the seasons. So where do you start?

Choose containers wisely.

Shape: Select containers that will last in your environment. If you’ve got a windy deck or area, choose planters that are wider at the bottom. Forego containers that are tapered and slim, as they can be blown over more easily.

Material: Fibreglass is great for inside but can crack in a colder winter when placed outdoors. Aluminum is great for planting bigger trees and shrubs because its a tougher material and won't expand and crack in extreme heat or cold. If you have a small budget, fibre-stone or fibre-clay is good and relatively inexpensive, but won't last as long.

Theme: Many people use mismatched pots. I try at least to stick with one theme that matches your garden’s feel. For example, if you like the West Coast modern look, then white square planters may speak to you. If your style is more traditional (like English boxwood), then black rounded concrete planters may be a good choice. Just try not to have too many different looks in your space, especially if it's small.

Plant your containers.

Fresh Soil: Always start with fresh soil when planting your new garden. A good-quality bagged soil with a mix of perlite works well to prevent soil from compacting and will give roots more space. Use some drainage material at the bottom of the pots for water flow and always line the bottom of your pots with landscape fabric so that your soil doesn't run through the bottom of the pots (that will make a mess on your deck).

Plants: As for plants, I usually suggest a mixture of perennials and annuals. For smaller pots of about 12” or less, I suggest using annuals, as these can be swapped out seasonally. By doing this , your garden’s look will always be current in your space. Be sure to know how much sun, rain and exposure your deck or area gets before buying your plants, and then select plants accordingly. A west-facing deck may be nice and sunny and bright but perhaps that 20-ft tree in your neighbour’s yard blocks the midday sun.

thumb Have fun with your plants. Mix and match colours. Try new plants. If something isn’t working, then take it out and try again. We spend so much money on coffee and lunches out—personally I would rather spend a few dollars on a fun new plant with cool foliage.

Fertilizer: Don't forget to add fertilizer or organic matter. I frequently add Sea Soil to the tops of planters while doing a seasonal swap-out. This gives a boost of energy to existing plants and to the new annuals you’re planting. Slow-release fertilizer will give extra nutrition to plants all season long. Plants in containers only have a small amount of space for their roots to seek out water, so be sure to water on a regular basis if there is no irrigation for your pots.

Accessories: And lastly, have fun with garden chachkas, silver balls or lanterns—anything to add some fun to your outdoor space. The indoor/outdoor living is so popular now, it's nice to take the look and feel of your house outside, too. I often match the colours of cushions, planters, plants etc., with the same colours as inside the house. It helps create great visual flow. That way your interior and exterior are stylishly cohesive.

Good luck with your outdoor space! If you need help, feel free to call me or check out my Facebook or Instagram pages for inspiration.

By Jennifer Lasko