Beautify your balcony

Want a balcony that’s not boring? A Dyuti writes about how you can bring more life into your balcony space.

Furniture like recliners, benches, stools and ottomans are a must for you to relax in the balcony. Swings and hammocks can also be considered. Only make sure your balcony space permits these. Also consider its shape and orientation before selecting your furniture pieces, for the latter must be in tandem with these two aspects. Determine the material you want — wood, cane, metal or plastic. They must also be weather-resistant. A coffee table makes for a useful addition. Once your furniture has been chosen, pick the right kind of upholstery or cushions and pillows to go with them.

What about the flooring? If the decorative tiles are too pretty to be covered up, forego the carpeting. Else, you can choose one in a colour or pattern that gels with the colours of the wall. If you are growing bright-coloured blossoms in your balcony, an emerald green carpet will aptly contrast them, proving to be an able highlighting assistant. But, you are safest with pastels and greys. If a carpet isn’t on the menu, then opt for throw rugs or area rugs if your balcony is a huge one.

Pictures, paintings or photographs to adorn the wall, brass sculptures and statues or terracotta figurines are your options among accessories. Adequate outdoor lighting is important. Pick lamps, wall sconces, lanterns or even a chain of mini-lights can do the trick. For a change, you can simply switch them all off and just light candles! Utility objects include a stable trash can and ash trays. Birdhouses are for those bent on having winged visitors for company.

Opt for greenery. But, you’ll have to consider a few aspects before taking the plunge. If you are living in an apartment or condo, verify whether building society rules permit balcony gardens. If yes, ensure it doesn’t interfere with neighbours’ peace and privacy by using soft lighting, checking protruding bamboo sticks/wooden stakes, arranging for excessive water drainage preventing seepage into the floor below, avoiding plants with an overpowering fragrance, using plant screens for privacy, and regularly pruning stems to prevent their encroaching of your neighbour’s territory. Also, obtain professional approval regarding the sturdiness of your balcony’s capacity to bear the weight of clay or mud-filled pots and plants in them gaining further weight with watering!

Determine your balcony garden’s purpose — to provide a pretty, secluded spot for relaxation, privacy for outdoor dining or entertainment, for aesthetics (flower garden) or for food-supplementing (growing vegetables, fruits and herbs)? For the former, frame the balcony with plants — pots on the floor, vertical garden and hanging baskets. For the latter case, grow plants like sweet peas, flowering and fruit-bearing vines and ivies on trellises and lattices. Avoid a solid panel, however. Bamboo fencing around the balcony heightens privacy.

Examine the amount of sunlight and shade your balcony receives, the harshness of the elements like wind, rain, storms, etc, space and sturdiness. Choose plants according to the sun/shade available. For creating a peaceful atmosphere, go for plants of softer hues and lacy leaves like ferns, pale roses and petunias. For an ambience appropriate for entertaining, choose bright plants like bougainvillea, hibiscus and palms. Evergreen plants spell maintenance ease. But, never overcrowd your balcony with plants.

Being lightweight, plastic containers are easy on your balcony structure. Bamboo and willow are the best for hanging baskets. Avoid terracotta containers. Heavy ceramic ones withstand strong winds. Anchor containers securely in such areas. Check if fixing a window-box planter to the railings is permitted and feasible. Pots/containers should have drainage holes at the bottom. The drained water shouldn’t creep into your neighbour’s balcony or seep down through their roof! You can also fix window-boxes securely to the railings and grow flowers in them.Where space is scarce, shelves for placing pots/containers, vertical gardens and hanging baskets are options. But fix the baskets securely. Avoid baskets providing for a direct outflow of water from the bottom onto the concrete/ornate floor below. For water-features, even a small tub with a water lily/hyacinth suffices.

 Only, introduce a few goldfish into it for feeding on the mosquito larvae. A sprawling balcony has room for garden art accessories like statues, birdbaths, etc. and water-features like waterfalls and fountains. 

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