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Living in an apartment and not having a front or backyard does not mean you cannot grow plants and have your own garden. A balcony is enough to transform part of your living space into an oasis of thriving green.
Space – When planning a balcony garden, first determine the size of your space and how you are going to design it. Will it be possible to include a “lounge” area (where you can put a table and chairs) in the layout, or will it be just plants there? Are you staying in a high-rise or a mid-rise building, higher or lower floor? This is vital to check whether the place is too windy to grow plants. You also need to observe the amount of sunlight that hits the space. Is it too sunny, or does it receive shade at other times of the day?
Plants – Herbs, vegetables, fruits, trees or shrubs; annuals or perennials – you have a lot of options to choose from. However, ensure to pick the ones that suit the Middle Eastern climate, and choose plants according to the amount of sunlight that your balcony gets. Either grow plants that can withstand plenty of sunlight, or choose those that thrive well in the shade. There are many garden centres and plant nurseries across the UAE where you can buy seeds, seedlings and cuttings, and even ask for expert advice on which plants are best suited to the country’s weather conditions.
Compost and containers – Since the country enjoys year-round sunshine, experts advise using loam as potting compost as it is better at retaining water. It also has good drainage and aeration properties. When potting plants, put large stones or gravel at the bottom of the pot before adding the compost to prevent waterlogging. As for pots and containers, while terra cotta provides better drainage, plastic and wood are light enough for balcony use. Most homeware stores carry plant pots in a variety of styles, shapes and designs. Opt for containers in different shapes, colours and sizes to lend your green space character and an interesting feel.
Accessories – Trellises, plant stands, hanging planters and flower boxes can add depth and texture to your garden. Throw in some dry tree trunks, pebbles and rocks, too.
Overall, all it takes is a green thumb and a little imagination to create a verdant spot in your apartment.
* Check the amount of sunlight your space receives and grow plants accordingly
* Pick pots in different sizes, shapes and colours to give your space character
* Throw in some accessories like pebbles, trellises and planters to give it texture
Tips on keeping your green space healthy.
Source: Ellen Joyce Soriano, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer