Big ideas for small gardens (or balconies!)

For those who live in the city or in flats without access to a reasonable sized garden, opportunities for outdoor relaxation are more than likely few and far between. Most balconies are small and uninviting, and it can be difficult to utilise smaller spaces due to the need for functionality especially if a balcony is being used out of necessity for hanging laundry and housing cleaning ware. It’s easy to shelve the idea of having any kind of greenery to relax in especially for the less green fingered folk, but there are ways to maximise use of whatever sized space is available and turn it into a beautiful oasis.

The easiest way to brighten up a small yard or balcony is to invest in some planters. There are a wide range of planters available from home and garden stores, from plastic to more sturdy wood, but whichever you choose they are easy to maintain and are a great way to start. B & Q have plastic planters starting from as little as £4, so just one could be purchased to experiment with and go from there. Window boxes are also a really easy option; herbs can be grown in these too. Fresh herbs, easy to manage, and fragrant smells all in one. 

Another easy way to brighten up small outdoor spaces is to use bunting. The fabric kind is better than cardboard, thanks to the temperamental British weather and it can be easily obtained from Amazon or online gift shops like dotcomgiftshop cheap enough. It an be tied to fences or railings, or strung across the space fete-style.

Places like B&M and Home Bargains sell cheap and cheerful solar lighting, strings of solar fairy lights and solar powered garden ornaments that can be used to your taste to decorate windowsills and walls, especially on balconies. Fairy lights can be wound loosely around ugly pipes for a quick way to brighten the space. Windchimes and dream catchers can also be hung; these are especially cute.

A really kitsch way to make use of space is to invest in some deck chairs. You could scout around boot sales or websites such as freecycle if you don’t fancy spending a lot, but deck chairs fold up small and can be slotted away or stood up against the walls when not in use. If you have a little bit more space, say on a slightly bigger balcony, giant floor bean bags are a great and comfortable way to invite people to relax in your little outdoor space. Just remember to bring them in at night or if you’re going out; again, the rain tends to surprise Brits and ruin many a line of freshly washed laundry.

If a more unique or fun look is desired for your outdoor space, Pinterest carries lots of quirky gardening ideas for small spaces, such as tin planters, bottle planters, and even upside down planters. Never be afraid to experiment or try things out; remember it’s your garden, your space, and you are the one who’s going to be using it. So no matter how small your space (there’s nothing wrong with dragging your armchair over to the open window on a sunny day to enjoy your window box if that’s all you’ve got), make sure you use it to your advantage. You may never have thought about it much, but once you’ve sat for a while in the cool air and admired your handiwork, you’ll be glad you’e finally made use of the space and may even begin coming up with ideas of your own!

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