Gardens come in all shapes and sizes and just like the rooms inside, when thoughtfully executed, reflect a homeowner’s personal style. A garden might seem out of reach for someone just moving into a sexy new condominium or apartment. This certainly does not have to be the case. Why not bridge the inside with the out by adding a little green to your balcony or patio areas? With a little effort, attention to detail, and a bit of care, your favorite room might turn out to be the one decked out in green outside the patio door.
Just like decorating rooms inside your home, careful consideration of complimentary containers, furnishings, and artwork is of the utmost importance. Make choices that express your sense of style while working with the surrounding architecture, sightlines, and rooms inside. Choose a theme or color scheme and commit to it. Layout the “furniture” with artwork, container plantings, and other accessories used thoughtfully to frame or block views, create focal areas or to soften hard lines. Think about how you will use the space, dividing your patio or balcony by how you intend to use it. A good layout might include seating, dining, and cooking areas, each having its own place within your open outdoor floor plan.
Outdoor rooms often need a little privacy to shield us from the realities of our neighbors, regardless of how much we like them. Building a fence or planting a hedgerow isn’t always an option to screen the sightlines and less than desirable focal points of those nearby. Strategically placed container groupings or even living wall systems might be just what the doctor ordered to add a bit of life to the outside while serving very necessary purposes. We often think of containers as focal points, but with the right placement, and proper plant choices, they soon can be just the ticket to physically create privacy barriers or to psychologically create more intimate spaces for us to enjoy while coexisting with the world around us. Soon the unattractive neighbor or public view becomes non-existent, or at the very least minimized by the beauty that surrounds your new outdoor living room.
Make your plant choices wisely. Right plants in the right place make all the difference and can make or break the livability factor or the outdoor room. A room can be perfectly appointed, but the scrappy plant in the corner will always steal the show, leaving an unfortunate lasting memory for your VIP guests. Understand your light levels and be realistic on how much care you can devote your plantings. If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask. Experts at the garden center can help you select appropriate plants, containers, and help create winning combinations that will thrive in your space while coinciding with your care schedule.
Green thumbs up for gardeners without gardens. With a little effort, apartment dwellers don’t have to feel left out of the garden world. They simply have to open up to the possibilities right on the balcony, terrace, or patio.
Scott Endres is co-owner of Tangletown Gardens and Tangletown’s Wise Acre Eatery on 54th and Nicollet in South Minneapolis.