Living in a tiny home without a backyard should not limit you to do gardening. Going for porch gardens can always be a great solution for homeowners with small spaces.
Luckily, a porch or balcony of any size can be transformed into a flourishing, eye-catching space of plants, blossoms, or even some trees.
Before executing the ideas, it is crucial to consider several things. Below is what you need to think about when creating practical porch gardens.
1. Determine Your Purpose
First, you need to decide the purpose of building a balcony garden in your home. Is it for blocking ugly views or getting some privacy?
Whether you want to grow some flowers or foods will result in different design ideas. If cooling the space is your ultimate purpose, the thing to plant is going to be different from simply adorning the porch.
Being clear about what you want will help to pick the right plant to grow or the best design to build. Thus, make sure to decide your purpose of creating porch gardens in advance.
2. Consider the Microclimate of Your Porch
The microclimate of your porch has a great influence on your upcoming garden. Ask yourself how much sun can get into the space and when.
Furthermore, you need to ask yourself whether the porch is hold or cold. Then, make sure how much wind does usually enter the space too.
By considering these factors, you will be able to easily determine what plants should be incorporated into the porch gardens.
Besides, it is also essential to consider any building contracts as well if you are living in a rented space. Make sure that your property owner allows planting in the porch.
If you are living in your own home, it is still important to consider whether the building allows for porch gardens or not. Then, calculate how much weight your balcony can support.
3. Take Container Gardening Into Account
Container or bucket gardening is the quickest choice when you want to build a practical garden around your porch or balcony.
Growing anything in containers lets you manage the soil quality and water usage more easily. Besides, it allows having delicious cooking herbs nearby for a fast grab.
Then, if you are bored with cooking in the kitchen, just move the space outdoor when needed. Moreover, container gardening allows transferring your plants easily to a safer place during the cold winter.
You can take advantage of clay or ceramic pots, hanging baskets, wood boxes, and other possible containers to start with your porch garden ideas.
Even though there is no limitation of what you can put into the container, try to avoid making it too heavy since the ability to drain off overload water may reduce.
For an extremely tight space, you may need to opt for a vertical garden. In this case, consider using long boxes that help to get the most of your tiny porch.
4. Get Good-Quality Soil
When it comes to planting in containers, you will need a good quality of the soil. At this point, getting some from a gardening center can be the best bet.
The soil should drain properly, and it is preferably lighter compared to regular gardening soil. Then, add a layer of gravel at the base of the containers to help with drainage.
5. Take Care of the Water
Of course, none wants to move some buckets of water from the kitchen to the balcony every few days. If your terrace has a faucet, it will be something great. Otherwise, you need to find a way for running the stream to your porch gardens.
Since some plants will require water two times a day throughout summer, you should try to incorporate a timed drip system in the garden.
Moreover, you have to think about drainage on the floor as well. Make sure that the water will not drip on the other rooms.
If you find it difficult to solve such issues, consider growing some plants that will not require much water.
For instance, succulents, pothos, ponytail palms, and Chinese evergreen are hard to kill because they typically do not need much water. That is why they also become a popular choice for indoor plants.
6. Pick What You Want to Plant
After preparing for the environment, you will need to pick the right plants to grow in the porch gardens. Depending on the above factors, choose your favorite flowers, vegetables, or even trees.
In terms of flowers, you can opt for the common annuals or some stout perennials that can overwinter. Just make sure that the chosen flowers are appropriate for your prepared containers.
It also applies to the other patio garden plants. You have to pick species that are suitable for the pots and the space to put the container later.
While eye-catching blossoms will make your porch garden look elegant, edible vegetables should be on your list too. More interestingly, many veggies are easy to grow and care for when being planted in containers.
If you are more interested in having some trees for shade or provide a cool breeze to your space, there will be a variety of options as well.
To help you decide on what to plants in your porch or balcony, the following are some excellent options to take into account.
Along with sunflowers, marigolds are popular for porch gardens since they can introduce a lot of color and simple to maintain.
All you need to do is deadheading them regularly so that the flowers will stay beautiful. While becoming a nice visual interest in your garden, marigolds can also deter insects that probably get on other plants.
In case your porch or balcony does not enjoy much sun throughout the day, try to add a plant that loves shade like begonias.
Begonias come in a range of varieties, making it easy to pick one that suits your environment the best. Besides, these colorful flowers are also low-maintenance and do not require much water compared to some other plants.
Boston ferns are another plant that works well in shade. Despite being an excellent gloom plant, they are sun-tolerant. Thus, you can still incorporate them in porch gardens that have some fun.
Another fern variety that makes a great container plant is Springeri or asparagus. Meanwhile, the delicate Maiden Hair is also perfect for shade pots.
Because they love sunlight very much, tomatoes will make a great addition to your patio balcony or rooftop gardens. Besides, these vegetables are also very simple to grow.
If your porch gardens obtain ample sun for minimally five to six hours a day, growing tomatoes will be a nice choice.
For this, you will need to utilize a huge container that is at least 30 centimeters in depth. When it comes to a small porch, opt for dwarf varieties of tomatoes since their survival rate can be higher.
One of the fastest-growing vegetables that make a great addition to your porch is radish. You just need to prepare a container, which is 15 centimeters deep.
However, if you want to grow a bigger variety, it is recommended to employ a planter that is 25 centimeters deep.
It is possible to plant some radishes closely in a wide pot. After 24 to 60 days, you can typically harvest the radishes. However, the exact harvesting time may depend on the variety.
Pick carrot varieties that are short for your porch gardens since the tall ones will require more space to grow their roots.
Fortunately, carrots are simple to grow, especially in containers as long as you select the right variety. Then, put the plants in partial or full sun for the best result.
Do not forget to water the carrots regularly to maintain the moisture in the soil. However, be careful not to overwater the plants since they are prone to mildew.
Beans are another easy-to-grow plant that you can grow in porch gardens. It may take several weeks only for them to cultivate perfectly when being placed near a wall.
Consider bringing trellis for the beans to climb around your balcony garden easily. It will serve useful support for the plants to thrive too.
You can grow beans with other vegetables that need more nitrogen such as kale, savory, celery, and spinach, especially if they are put in a very big container.
This manner is ideal for growing beans since they can fix the nitrogen. Aside from beans, cucumber, peas, and eggplants will become a perfect container vegetable too.
However, you can also try co-planting ideas to make the most of the available space. Thus, instead of growing the above vegetables individually, consider cultivating them in the same container.
For instance, you may like to plant a root crop such as radishes, carrots, and turnips along with species that grow vertically like beans or peas.
Some people have successfully mixed different veggies such as chard, beets, lettuces, and carrots altogether.
Others may like to combine cherry tomatoes with peas on a slanted string to provide some shade for the chilies or another plant that is growing underneath.
7. Add Trees to Your Porch Gardens
In addition to vegetables and flowers, you may like to add trees to your balcony gardens. They may become a practical solution for shaping the space’s microclimate.
Whether you need to introduce more shade or increase protection toward wind, your nearby nursery should be able to assist in discovering a tree that suits your needs. As a general guide, the below trees are ideal for porch gardens.
A pot of Japanese maple will make a lovely addition to your balcony. Their fascinating leaves can lend a colorful spot in the space.
You will need a big container for growing a Japanese maple in a pot. In cooler regions, this tree should be put in a spot that obtains full sun.
Meanwhile, in warmer regions, you should move this tree into an afternoon shade. Since Japanese maples will best with less exposure of wind, try to locate them in a sheltered area around your porch or balcony.
If you want to grow a tree that offers year-round interest, evergreen conifers including cypress, juniper, and pine can be your best choice.
All varieties of conifers need well-draining soil when being planted in a pot. You must put them in an area that receives full sun too to allow the trees to thrive better.
To make sure their appropriateness in your porch gardens, consider planting slow-growing or dwarf varieties of conifers such as Montery cypress.
For outdoor terrace or porch that comes in Italian or French theme, adding several pots of olive trees will complete the setting beautifully.
These natives to the Mediterranean have shallow roots, making them ideal for planting in containers. However, you still need to get the right size of pot from the beginning and keep the soil well-drained in a sunny region.
Furthermore, you need to move olive trees from your outdoor porch gardens into a shelter in winter.
If you do not want to deal with the oily fruit drops from the tree, pick a fruitless variety such as the Swan Hill.
Prepare a big container and add a southern magnolia in it. This idea is especially perfect if your porch gardens acquire plenty of vertical space for the tree to cultivate properly.
Southern magnolias are capable to reach 3 meters or even more in a pot. To grow them, make sure to maintain the soil damp and cut their branches frequently to control the growing size.
You can grow Southern magnolias in full to partial sun in USDA Zones 7–9. Their exceptional leaves will bring something interesting to your porch gardens.
8. Final Thoughts
Overall, even the smallest space in a porch or balcony can be turned into a practical and fascinating garden. Simply introduce your favorite plants in hanging baskets or pots to save space.
To make the most of the idea, remember to provide good soil and adequate water since most plants in containers will dry out fast. Then, adding necessary fertilizer will work too in your balcony garden.
Therefore, do not hesitate to make your porch gardens by taking the above ideas and tips into account. Good luck!