No Yard? No Problem: The Best Balcony, Rooftop and Patio Gardens

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

If you love to garden but don’t have the tiniest fraction of an acre to your name, all hope is not lost. These fifteen urban oases prove that a gorgeous garden can thrive in the smallest — and unlikeliest — of spaces…

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1. Ferns and herbs abound on the back porch of Elizabeth’s Color-Filled Apartment in Chicago.
2. Lilacs, basil, mums, and 42 other types of plants thrive on Alejandro’s Rooftop Oasis.
3. Enrique’s Posh Patio is home to numerous thriving plants — and may be more posh than any indoor space I’ll ever live in.
4. Chris & Diana’s Red Hook Rooftop keeps the couple and their friends well-fed with fresh vegetables.
5. Leah & Matt’s Enviable Rooftop Oasis looks larger than any apartment I’ve ever rented, and they’ve certainly made excellent use of it. The space is home to herbs, vegetables, trumpet vines, jasmine, boxwood, and many more plants, yet feels wonderfully modern and minimal.

6. The plant-filled porch off of Caroline & Sebastian’s Bohemian Fairytale might be one of the most welcoming spots in all of San Francisco.
7. Janelle & Robert’s East/West Coast Mix is in Los Angeles, but the lush front porch surrounded by magnolia trees is a sun-dappled oasis.
8. Matt and Alex’s Outdoor Living Room features the best of both worlds: fresh air and sunshine, with a partial roof to protect their plants and belongings from the harsher elements.
9. I have a soft spot for Daniel’s Denver Balcony because it’s exactly the sort of garden I had on my San Francisco balcony (fire escape): potted plants around the edge and bright flowers adorning the wrought iron railings.
10. Katie’s Austin Garden Balcony in Austin is small but packed with flowers and charm.

11. Nicole’s Vancouver Balcony is manageable and petite, yet provides a most welcome hit of green.
12. Sudha’s Repurposed Garden Balcony utilizes upcycled milk jugs and yogurt tubs as the foundation for a kitchen garden.
13. Jenny’s Creole Balcony in Austin was an ambitious, $1,200 undertaking that resulted in a lovely space full of New Orleans charm.
14. Glen74’s Reimagined Balcony is a DIY project that sounds heavenly in its simplicity: recycled teak, wild grasses, and a hammock.
15. Micol’s Roman Balcony makes me realize how badly I need a Roman balcony!