small gardens

Balcony plants: Sky's the limit when you're gardening on the edge

An exposed concrete platform high in the sky isn't the ideal location for a garden, but many apartment dwellers overcome the difficulties to create wonderful green spaces.

From a few succulents in small pots to productive vegetable gardens in clever planters or "pods",  there's plenty you can do with a little planning.

The key to success is knowing your site. It may only be a few square metres, but it's still crucial to know how much sun it gets, where the shade is on a hot sunny day and how the wind buffets the balcony. 

Frost-tender plants may be able to cope if there is an overhang or some other form of protection in the middle of winter, but will suffer out in the open.

Wheeled plant caddies make it easy to move pots under cover if frost is forecast. Failing that, throw an old sheet over the plant, ensuring it is secured and can't blow away.

Pot size is a major consideration. Many small trees thrive in containers, but pots need to be big enough to hold adequate moisture and let the tree develop a robust root system.

Deciduous trees can be a great option if you don't want to block out scarce sunlight in winter, while lemons and olive trees can be a tasty choice. Dwarf varieties are available in most fruit trees.

There are many vertical garden, green wall, or plant stand options to consider if space is particularly limited.

Safety comes first with anything you put on your balcony so please ensure pots and plants aren't at risk of being blown over the edge and injuring someone below.