20 Balcony Garden Ideas That Prove Anyone Can Create One—No Green Thumb Required

updated Jun 21, 2023
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When we picture a garden, most of us likely imagine a wildly idyllic countryside oasis or a pristine suburban backyard where space is abundant. However, you don’t need to have ample square footage to create a dreamy gardenscape — your home’s balcony will do just fine. Thanks to a little creativity and innovation, balcony gardens can hold more plant life than you may expect.

Tips for Creating a Balcony Garden

When designing the balcony garden of your dreams, there are plenty of ways to maximize verdant greenery, colorful florals, and fragrant herbs. 

Patrick Vernuccio is an author and influencer who shares expert urban gardening tips on his popular Instagram account, @thefrenchiegardener. We asked him what advice he’d give a beginner balcony gardener — here’s what he said: 

  • Get to know your space: “Analyze the sun exposure, but also the direction of the wind to know which varieties to grow,” according to Vernuccio. “Your growing conditions will determine what you can grow, not the reverse.” Some plants require six hours of sun a day, while others can thrive with much less. 
  • Soil is everything: It’s totally fine to save money with budget- and eco-friendly containers, such as plastic bottles or buckets. The one investment Vernuccio recommends, though? Quality soil. “Prioritize an organic soil enriched with organic compost without peat,” he suggests. 
  • One plant per pot: When you have a small balcony, it can be tempting to cram as many plants as you can into one pot. But don’t! “Give room to nature and only plant one plant per pot,” he says. Not only is this more aesthetically pleasing, it’s better for your plants. 
  • Use vertical space: Make the most of your limited space by utilizing your walls and balcony railings. “Stake up your plants vertically using strong bamboo sticks and twine so that they grow vertically and do not eat your floor space,” advises Vernuccio.

Read on to find inspiration for scheming up the mini green space you never thought your urban apartment could have. 

Credit: Alexis Buryk

1. Create a mini culinary garden.

This one’s for the avid home cooks and cocktail enthusiasts out there. We love how Elizabeth Tulipana’s Chicago apartment features a DIY container garden filled with more than a dozen of her favorite herbs without taking up too much prime real estate. Now, happy hour just got even more festive, thanks to a fresh sprig of mint or rosemary. 

2. Get textural.

We love how artist Danielle Lindsary brought vibrant color and texture to the front porch balcony of her New Orleans apartment with a thoughtfully curated collection of plant life. Lindsay smartly chose plants that are not only beautiful but can withstand the intense New Orleans heat and humidity to ensure her home’s entrance is always welcoming. 

Credit: Submitted by Vivienne

3. Go bold with the flooring.

We have loved watching people transform their outdoor spaces over the last few years, and patios, balconies, and terraces are finally getting the kind of design attention formerly saved for interiors. Here, homeowner Vivienne utilized glossy checkerboard flooring to make a stunning statement in her  Singapore apartment’s balcony garden that reflects her love of travel. (She’s visited more than 40 countries.) 

4. Create a dreamy dining destination.

The only thing better than having a balcony garden is also having an alfresco dining space in the center of it all. We’re taking some serious notes from Divya of @mybohoaesthetics who smartly used her balcony railing as a hanging and vertical garden to save room for a darling bistro set. And we adore those mini potted plants as a festive centerpiece! 

She says that she wanted to create her own urban jungle where her love for all things French and the tropics could meet. Choosing exotic plants was the right pick for the New Delhi climate while the dining table and linens feel every bit Parisian. The addition of hanging planters and a DIY vertical shelf further allowed Divya to establish a true oasis in the middle of a bustling city.

5. Don’t let space keep you from growing what you want.

Svenja of @designablehome proves that even serious gardeners can take to their balconies in order to create a rewarding garden. While she says that your harvest will naturally be smaller on a balcony, you can still grow fruits and veggies that taste just as delicious if they’d been grown in the English countryside or a Connecticut suburb.

Credit: @dielenliebe

6. Embrace hygge.

Anna of @dielenliebe created the ultimate outdoor living space at her Hamburg apartment. She used a vine-covered trellis to instill some privacy while adding a shelf and tables to add additional plant life around an ultra-cozy seating area that offers hidden storage. Adorning the space with various pillows and blankets make it the ultimate destination for unwinding at the end of the workday or throughout the weekend. 

7. Create your own secret garden.

Gardening knows no boundaries, and no matter how small or big your balcony is, you can make a plant-friendly oasis, as proven by the fairytale cottage garden vibe by Molly Mullane Garden Design. Plus, we can only imagine how fragrant it smells out there. 

Credit: Justyna

8. Employ a ladder for an instant vertical garden.

A ladder-style shelf system and railing planters make Justyna’s balcony garden feel lush and green but not overcrowded. Growing herbs, flowers, and other plants becomes simpler when you stack them rather than spread them across your balcony floor.

Credit: Egil Farstad

9. Design a fabulous living wall. 

Living walls are gorgeous statement pieces and provide greenery that’s not high maintenance. Not much gardening is required, but Egil Farstad’s setup still gives you a green space that will feel just as rewarding. 

Credit: Annvi

10. Make the most of your ledges.

Balcony ledges and raised platforms provide extra space for growing your small garden. Trailing plants and tall trees can start to give your balcony a sense of privacy too, like shown in Annvi’s intimate jungle-like escape.

11. Reflect your home’s interiors.

A few potted shrubs and trees make balcony garden maintenance much easier. This gorgeous bohemian-inspired take from Janine of Like a Feather Shop shows how your interior style can blend seamlessly with your outdoor preferences.

Credit: Stacy Rose

12. Remember, simplicity can be stunning. 

Whether you’re really limited on space or feel overwhelmed by adding plant care to your daily routine, this adorable Brooklyn apartment proves that it doesn’t take much to make a statement. Homeowner Grace Zhang surrounded her outdoor bistro set with a handful of plants that transform the area into an elegant and inviting spot for coffee, dinner, and yes, cake. 

13. Mix up your plants (and pots). 

Minimalists can keep balcony gardens, too. You don’t need to create a mini greenhouse to get the benefits of being surrounded by plants. A few carefully selected contrasting planters can make a huge difference and still bring green into the space, as evidenced by Brian of Leaf Stone Water’s striking balcony design. 

Credit: Fridlaa

14. Go monochrome. 

Once you’ve got the plants down, making your balcony warm and inviting is just as important. Getting the space right will ensure you’ll want to spend plenty of time appreciating your small garden. We love how the saturated yellow colors used in Fridlaa’s balcony’s design allow the greenery to really pop. 

Credit: May D'souza

15. Don’t be afraid to fully embrace your inner plant parent.

Forget the table and chairs—if plant parenthood means the world to you, you may as well use every inch for greenery and florals. This space created by May D’Souza proves that any size balcony can cater to a plant lover’s biggest dreams and look incredibly cool in the process.

16. Fake it ‘til you make it (or don’t).

If you want to create an outdoor plant oasis but are a bit intimidated, don’t be afraid to rely on nature-inspired design elements to instill that same feeling. Here, Kristina Roder transformed her blank balcony wall into a stenciled masterpiece that gives all the tropical vibes while making the space feel more verdant than it really is.

17. Let out your inner maximalist.

Sometimes more is more. Need proof? Check out the sunny covered patio attached to Mila Moraga-Holz’s eclectic Los Angeles home. Complete with hanging chairs, a bold rug, and lots of mood-boosting greenery, it’s a maximalist’s dream.  

Credit: Liz Ferguson

18. Don’t forget the twinkle lights.

You want to be able to enjoy your balcony garden at any time of day, so it’s important to have enough light to make it usable at all hours. Liz Ferguson smartly utilized two types of string lights in two different sections of her café-inspired balcony to enhance visibility and make it even cozier. 

Credit: Jen Robinson

19.  Reach for the stars—or ceiling.

If you’re struggling between wanting to create more living space and building a lush garden on your balcony, there’s a simple way to do both. Jen Robinson enhanced her well-appointed balcony with hanging planters from the ceiling to bring in more plant life without sacrificing space. 

Credit: Lula Poggi

20. Make some shade.

This gorgeous Barcelona terrace becomes inviting at all hours with a scalloped awning that makes some shade and also allows for more types of plants to find their way onto your balcony. Now, you won’t be limited to choosing plants that thrive on full sun exposure if your balcony is totally light-drenched all day long.