How to start a garden on an apartment balcony

Freshly watered succulents soaking up the sunlight on a balcony ledge. Courtesy/Stacey Simon

Freshly watered succulents soaking up the sunlight on a balcony ledge. Stacey Simon/Lariat

Not everyone is born with a green thumb and sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough space in an apartment to enjoy nature, but starting a balcony garden can be as easy. It’s all about knowing the available space, light and the time needed.

The first step to starting a garden is getting to know the amount of sunlight the balcony gets. Most herbs and other plants need anywhere from four to six hours of direct sunlight per day, and other plants can get by on less than three hours of sunlight per day. Based on your available sunlight, it is important to choose plants that will grow successfully on a particular balcony.

“There are a variety of different plants that would work for a balcony depending on the amount of light you get,” said landscape designer Jennifer Hillock. “Herbs would work great because they are super easy to grow, they tend to fit in smaller pots and you get to actually consume them.”

Herbs are good for balconies that provide full or partial sunlight, so it is recommended to position them in the sunniest area of the balcony. If the balcony is a bit shadier,  plant herbs like dill, mint or parsley. Sunny balconies can support herbs that grow well in full sunlight, such as sage, thyme or rosemary.

With a busy schedule and perhaps a forgetful mind, plants that require less watering may be a good option as well. Succulents give the balcony that wonderful green color without having to worry about intensive care. They do require plenty of sunlight, so make sure the balcony can support this kind of plant.

Choosing the right pot is not only a decorative choice, as pot size is also important depending on the plants you choose. Stacey Simon/Lariat

Once the particulars on the balcony and schedule are set, chose to plant seeds or starters. Just getting into gardening? The easiest way to grow plants is to buy starter plants that have already sprouted. The local nursery will have suggestions on different plants to ensure success.

Make sure to have the basics: shovel, gardening gloves, quality soil and an eagerness to get started!