Your balcony garden awaits

How To Start A Balcony or Patio Garden

Have you ever thought about starting up a garden before but, don’t know where to begin? Imagine having fresh vegetables and herbs to pamper up your salads, stir frys, and everyday meals. Now, how cool would that be if those fresh vegetables and herbs came from your own garden? If this puts a smile on your face, maybe it’s time for you to start up that garden you’ve always wanted.

You don’t necessarily need a backyard to build up a garden. You might have a balcony, a small patio, or windows that get a lot of sun. The four key ingredients to having a successful garden are sunlight, water, fresh air, and soil.

A garden can be big or small depending on the size of space an area permits. Your balcony or patio garden can range from a vertical garden to planter boxes, to multiple pots and railing baskets. If you have been dreaming about starting up a garden in your home and are new to the concept, the following steps will help guide you to success.

Start with the Right Plants

Choosing the right plants is crucial for the success of your balcony garden. Consider these factors when selecting plants:

  • Easy-to-grow plants for small spaces: Look for plants that thrive in containers and don’t require too much space to grow. Examples include herbs, such as basil and parsley, or small fruiting plants like cherry tomatoes and strawberries.

Choosing plants based on sunlight requirements: Assess the amount of sunlight your balcony receives and choose plants accordingly. Some plants love full sun, while others prefer shade. Make sure to research each plant’s sunlight needs before purchasing.

radish in palm of hand

Which Direction Does Your Balcony or Patio Face?

Does your balcony or patio face the shady north, the sunny south, the rising sun in the east, or the setting sun in the west? The direction of the sun is the most important factor to consider when beginning your balcony or patio garden. All growing plants require their own unique amount of sunlight, so it’s important to choose varieties that coincide with your balcony or patio space.

Full sun is about 6 hours of sunlight a day. For many vegetables, gardens are ideal if they get 8-10 hours of sunlight daily. But if your balcony or patio receives less than 6 hours of sunlight then it’s considered partial-shade and anything less than 3 hours is considered full shade. If you’re on the lower sunlight spectrum, don’t worry! There are still plenty of plants to choose from.

Can Any Balcony or Patio Have A Garden?

The answer is, yes! But, don’t go haywire and start buying all of the vegetables and herbs without doing some research first. Wet soil, terra cotta, and ceramic pots can be very heavy, so you might want to look into the weight restrictions of your balcony or patio before you begin choosing your materials. You can use biodegradable rice pots, plastic or fiberglass containers, or fabric grow bags combined with lightweight soil mixes. You may want to email your landlord about the weight restrictions, for guidance.

You will also want to consider the type of materials you will use in case pots overflow. The neighbors below may not appreciate the rain shower of watered plants. So, consider this issue before a complaint by simply adding water saucers or trays under your containers.

Designing Your Balcony or Patio Garden

Once you have determined the direction of the sunlight and weight limits, you can now start to think about your design. This is where your creativity shines. There’s an abundant amount of container options for you to choose from. Just make sure to measure your space before buying containers or planters that may not fit your balcony or patio. Having measuring tape will be very useful.

By combining edibles, flowers, and herbs correctly, you can get a plentiful amount in your balcony or patio garden. In your designing stage consider the “thriller, spiller, and filler” plants. This planting technique will help you in deciding which plants to place into your container. Thriller plants grow upright, the spiller plants cascade over the pot, and the filler plants take up the spaces in between.


Peppers, tomatoes, rosemary, kale, cabbage, chard, broccoli, cauliflower


Squash, strawberries, thyme, mint, tarragon, nasturtium


Basil, arugula, mustard greens, fennel, carrots, parsley

growing cherry tomatoes

Choose the Perfect Containers

Selecting suitable containers is essential for a successful balcony garden. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Container types for balcony gardens: Opt for containers with drainage holes to prevent overwatering. You can use traditional pots, fabric grow bags, or railing planters to maximize space.
  • Tips for container gardening success: Use high-quality potting mix and be mindful of each plant’s specific watering and fertilizing needs.

Planters and Pots

If weight is not an issue, large planters and pots made from wood or terra cotta are very attractive and offer a good amount of space for all types of growing. One thing to note is that terra cotta material usually dries the soil more quickly. You can also consider resin or plastic pots which are generally lightweight and come in various sizes, shapes, and self-watering options.

If you are able to have larger pots and planters on your balcony or patio, you have the opportunity to grow small shrubs, perennials, or a wide variety of traditional vegetables. Smaller containers are great for planting kitchen herbs, perennials, and annuals. They can also be used in combination if you decide to go vertical.

Maximize Space with Vertical Gardening

One of the most effective small balcony garden ideas is to use vertical space. This can be achieved through various methods:

  • DIY vertical garden ideas: Create your own vertical garden using repurposed materials like pallets, hanging shoe organizers, or wooden crates.

Store-bought vertical garden solutions: Many stores offer vertical planters, trellises, and wall-mounted pots to help you make the most of your limited space.

Vertical gardens can attach or lean on your walls or they can have stackable planters. There are many variations of this method such as, using pallets pinned to your wall, attaching pots to a trellis, hanging gutters from a chain, or arranging plants on planter stairs.

The only downside of having a vertical balcony or patio garden is the splash factor that can dirty up your walls. This can be caused from overhead watering and dripping from a height. Drip irrigation works well to avoid this mess combined with a catchment system at the bottom of your vertical garden.

dark leafy spinach

Railing or Hanging Baskets

Window boxes, hanging baskets, and railing baskets can be a great idea if you have a smaller balcony or patio. These items are mostly made from wood, plastic, or steel and are built to hang off your balcony or patio’s railing or eaves. They’re usually shallower so, the soil will dry out more quickly. So, keep that in mind for your balcony or patio garden. Some suitable plants are succulents, herbs, lettuce, strawberries, and annuals. These containers can be secured by using zap straps, screws, or brackets to prevent your garden from falling or being knocked off by the wind.

Create a Private Oasis

Consider adding privacy features and comfortable seating to make your small balcony garden a relaxing retreat:

  • Privacy ideas for small balcony gardens: Install a trellis with climbing plants, use tall potted plants, or hang curtains to create a cozy, secluded space.
  • Incorporating seating and relaxation spaces: Choose compact furniture like foldable chairs, benches with storage, or floor cushions to make the most of your limited space.

Let’s Talk About Soil

Soil is the bed for your plant, and like humans, some of us prefer a firm bed while others prefer softer cushioned. The foundation is the soil mix because it provides the plants with moisture and oxygen for them to grow and thrive. By addressing soil structure in the beginning, you will save water and time.

Edibles such as vegetables and fruit prefer richer soil with a large amount of water-retaining compost, organic matter, and a good drainage system. Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary, and sage, prefer a drier soil that is coarse with sand. Remember that porous pot material such as terra cotta dries out more quickly, so you will need more compost or water-retaining medium.

A general ratio of compost, peat, and perlite or sand in a standard mix is 1:1:1. You can also go to your local nursery or garden center to ask an expert about your soil questions for your balcony or patio garden.

Budget-friendly Small Balcony Garden Ideas

Creating a lush garden on a budget is possible with some creativity:

  • DIY projects to save money: Repurpose old items like crates, tin cans, or plastic bottles as planters.
  • Affordable store-bought options: Look for sales or clearance items at local garden centers or online retailers.

Grow Your Own Vegetables on a Small Balcony

Growing your own vegetables is a rewarding experience:

  • Best vegetables for balcony gardening: Choose compact varieties like cherry tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, or dwarf peppers.
  • Tips for a successful vegetable garden: Provide adequate sunlight, use good-quality soil, and monitor for pests.

Maintaining Your Small Balcony Garden

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your garden healthy and thriving:

  • Watering and fertilizing tips: ensure proper drainage and follow each plant’s specific watering and fertilizing requirements.
  • Pest control and plant health: Regularly check for pests and diseases, and take action promptly to prevent issues from escalating.

You’re on Your Way to Build Up Your Balcony or Patio Garden

Now that we have gone through the main steps on how you can start up your personal garden, you can now get started. Take one day off from your weekend to find supplies, soil, and pottery, to begin your garden. Visit your local nursery or garden center for guidance and questions. Variations will differ according to your home’s location and season.

It’s a wonderful feeling to accomplish a task that you’ve always wanted to complete. Now is the time to make your balcony or patio garden filled with greens, edibles, herbs, or flowers. Don’t let the task of building a balcony or patio garden intimidate you. Over time, you’ll recognize the unique personality of your micro-scape, and growing your garden will become easier and easier.

small balcony garden ideas


  1. What are some easy plants to grow in a small balcony garden? 
    1. Why not try herbs, cherry tomatoes, strawberries, or succulents? They’re simple to grow and oh so-rewarding!
  2. How can I create privacy in my balcony garden? 
    1. Use trellis with climbing plants, tall potted plants, or even hang some trendy curtains to create a private space. Viola, your private green haven is ready!
  3. What are some low-maintenance small balcony garden ideas?
    1. Choose hardy, drought-tolerant plants paired with self-watering containers will be your best friends.
  4. How to create a vertical garden on a balcony?
    1. Get creative with repurposed materials like pallets, hanging shoe organizers, or even store-bought vertical planters and trellises.
  5. What are the best containers for balcony gardening?
    1. Look for containers with drainage holes, like traditional pots, fabric grow bags, or railing planters all work wonderfully.
  6. How to optimize sunlight for a small balcony garden?
    1. Assess the amount of sunlight your balcony receives, and select plants that match those conditions.
  7. How can I incorporate seating into my small balcony garden?
    1. Use compact furniture like foldable chairs, benches with storage, or even some cozy floor cushions should do the trick.
  8. How to water and maintain a balcony garden?
    1. Remember to ensure proper drainage, follow each plant’s specific watering and fertilizing requirements, and keep an eye out for pesky pests and diseases.
  9. What are some budget-friendly small balcony garden ideas?
    1. Try repurposing old items as planters and look for sales or clearance items at garden centers.
  10. Can I grow vegetables on my small balcony?
    1. Of course, you can grow them on your balcony! Compact varieties like cherry tomatoes, spinach, kale, radishes, or dwarf peppers will thrive.  

Do you have any balcony or patio garden tips? Share below your experiences!


30 thoughts on “How To Start A Balcony or Patio Garden”

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