Balcony garden ideas- 25 ways to create your own outdoor oasis

Transform your bijou balcony into a horticultural haven

We all know that spending time outdoors has huge benefits for our physical and mental health. But if your home lacks a private garden, fear not as our balcony garden ideas will help to inspire and transform even the smallest of outside spaces.

It was recently revealed that only 1 in 8 British households have access to a private garden space or patio. With the last couple of years forcing us to spend more time at home than ever before, and the proven health benefits of being around plants and in nature, balcony gardening and 'gardenless' gardening is a great way to get involved.

With a bit of careful planning you can instantly transform your small elevated space into a marvellous micro-garden full of colour, aroma and atmosphere.

There are lots of inspiring ideas that can turn your small garden space into a balcony garden that will enhance the living experience of your home: enjoy views, sit, relax and grow your own little bit of green wherever you live.

Balcony garden ideas

Firstly, think about the position and the amount of light your balcony receives as this will determine what type of plants will be happy in your garden balcony. Shady enclosed areas can be filled with lush green plants, such as ferns and hostas. Warmer spots in direct sunlight will suit a collection of Mediterranean sun-loving plants full of vivid colour.

Whatever the size, there are plenty of uses for your balcony garden. If there is room for an outdoor table and chairs you can use it as an outside dining room or maybe as a spill out area for when you are entertaining.

Teak and all-weather stainless-steel furniture in modular shapes suits modern apartment style or decorative ornate iron designs are timeless and elegant. Or, perhaps you fancy your own place in the sun in which case a sun lounger with a couple of well placed potted grasses will look super chic.

Food lovers need not miss out as sheltered balcony gardens can make perfect salad and vegetables growing spots, so why not become an urban farmer with your very own balcony vegetable garden?

Finally, don't forget about designing your balcony for long evenings as well as sunny days. We have lots of garden lighting ideas to inspire you too.

Take a look at our garden balcony ideas and turn a micro-space into your own small but perfectly formed oasis.

1. Create a canopy with creepers

garden with creepers potted plants and table with chair

(Image credit: Ikea)

Buy now: Fejan outdoor chairs, £12 each, Ike (opens in new tab)a (opens in new tab)

To give your balcony space a cosy and enveloping feel, opt to plant creepers and vines in pots and planters, to encourage them to grow up and over your balcony space. You might need to install some trellis to your balcony walls, or string up some wire for your creeper to wind itself along, but with a little encouragement and tending to, you could soon have an oasis of green, just outside your balcony door.

2. Go big on colour

outside space with rugs cushions and paper flower garlands

(Image credit: Future Plc/David Brittain)

There's nothing like a big hit of colour to bring life and soul to your balcony space. Outdoor rugs, cushions and paper flower garlands will all transform your outside space come spring. Flowers arranged in vases and vessels will always bring a smile to your face, even if they are faux! Geraniums are perfect for bringing colour to your space and are easy to grow, plus will last all summer long. Plant them up in hanging baskets, planters or even old watering cans and arrange them in spots around your balcony.

3. Line up plants on a ladder

garden area with potted plants on ladder shelf

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Buy now: Moreton slatted ladder shelf, £185, Garden Trading (opens in new tab)

Saving precious floor space is essential if your balcony is on the wee side, but you don't have to forgo adding plants to your space, with this clever ladder shelf. Making the most of wall space, ladder shelves provide the perfect spot to house a range of potted plants, including grasses, and ivys, but also herbs like basil, mint, rosemary and thyme. Be sure to secure your shelf to the wall so that it with stands all weathers and think about painting yours black, so that your plants really pop against it.

4. Combine plants with your dining spot

garden with balcony set and potted plants

(Image credit: Dobbies Garden Centres)

Buy now: Freya balcony set, £229, Dobbies (opens in new tab)

With space at a premium, clever space savers are essential for your balcony garden, so this dining table and planter in one, is ideal! Not only does it provide space for two to enjoy alfresco dining, it also has a raised trough at the back, perfect for planting up herbs, flowers or grasses. Alternatively, fill the trough with ice and use it as a place to keep drinks cool on sunny days when entertaining. In the winter, the dining set could be brought inside and used as a WFH desk, complete with space for your stationery and paperwork.

5. Arrange plants at different heights

balcony garden with olivblad plant stand and potted plants

(Image credit: Ikea)

Buy now: Olivblad plant stand, £19 (opens in new tab); Senapskal decorative greenhouse, £15, (opens in new tab)both Ikea.

Look at arranging your plants at different heights on your balcony, to make the space feel more full and jungle-like. Raised planters are great for this, but even popping your plants on to side tables, stools, benches and on shelves will expand the sense of greenery. Planters that can be hung from the top of your balcony railings are a great idea too, so that your space looks just as thriving from the outside, as it does from the inside.

Choosing to pot all your plants in matching planters will create a neat and unified look and means you can move around your plants to different spots with the change of seasons.

6. Opt for a black back-drop

balcony garden with potted plants

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Buy now: Vence tall planter, £45 (opens in new tab); Draycott planter, large, £70; (opens in new tab) Cutsdean planter, £100 (opens in new tab), all Garden Trading

While black isn't traditionally recommended for small spaces, it actually works surprisingly well in an outdoor space and provides the perfect backdrop for your plants. Painting your balcony wall or fencing black, will make the green of your plants really pop and echoing that colour on the ground is a great idea too. Dark grey and galvanised steel planters provide a contemporary look for your balcony setting, and again going for planters of different sizes and heights adds interest.

7. Add a splash of colour

balcony garden with wooden table and potted plants

(Image credit: Future Plc/David Giles)

Bright coloured furniture can bring the joy to a small space in lieu of lots of plants, and provides a cheery spot to sit. Benches are perfect space savers too as they can provide more seating than individual chairs, can be easily stacked when not in use, and can also be used as a place to display plants too.

8. Take the inside out

terrace garden with potted plants hammock and armchairs

(Image credit: lovethegarden.com)

The experts at Love The Garden (opens in new tab) have transformed this once plain terrace into an outdoor living room. Using wood to create striking visual features that also enhance the functionality of the space. Importantly the design complements the natural feel and look of the wood with other natural materials and of course, plenty of greenery.

The welcome addition of outdoor rugs, a coffee table and a sofa and armchair set help to style the outdoor area as an authentic extension of the indoor living space.

Which plants to use: Rosemary, thyme, sage, lovage, viburnum tinus, polystichum setiferum (soft shield fern).

9. Keep it simple

terrace area with potted plants and table and chairs

(Image credit: Future Plc/Emma Lewis)

Don't over complicate the decor, to avoid making the already small space feel even more restrictive. This balcony garden has just enough space for all the right ingredients to make it an extra living space for all seasons. A table and chairs provides a place to dine and relax and just a few potted plants adds enough greenery to call it an urban garden space.

The whitewashed walls and potted olive tree helps welcome Mediterranean vibes to this small city-dwelling terrace.

10. Light up the deck

balcony garden with creepers and wooden table and chairs

(Image credit: Future Plc/Brett Symes)

Make your balcony garden even more useable by ensuring you have a light source, to enjoy the extended living space after dark. Solar powered lighting is a great choice, meaning you don't have to run an outdoor power supply. Outdoor lighting will allow you to use your balcony garden throughout all times of the day, and all seasons.

11. Install a wall for privacy

balcony garden with flowering plants

(Image credit: Future Plc/Mel Yates)

Conceal your space with a border trellis. Balconies can unfortunately sometimes lack privacy so a stylish trellis that can double as a plant climber makes an attractive solution. They're easy to install and a grid of slats will still let through plenty of light. Matching planters filled with vibrant hydrangeas or geraniums will blend any hard edges and add a welcoming burst of colour.

12. Take inspiration from travels

balcony garden with terracotta pots and seating area

(Image credit: lovethegarden.com)

Whether meditation is your thing, you simply want to evoke past memories of far-flung travel, or dream of your next adventure, you can re-imagine your balcony garden to be anywhere in the world.

With a few simple design elements, the right accessories and of course the right plants you could be in Southeast Asia, South America, India, or wherever your imagination takes you. This eclectic colourful space is inspired by global travel and evokes the warmth and colour of a real-life tropical retreat.

How to get the look: Key for this look and to create this gardenless garden is to use colour - and lots of it. Think terracotta pots, bright pops of colour on your soft furnishings (the more the better), and white lanterns. Opt for these key features but always make it your own eclectic mix, with some colourful plants too.

13. Invest in structural trees and plants

balcony with iron railings

(Image credit: Future Plc/Holly Joliffe)

Small narrow spaces suit long tall plants. Therefore, trees fit the bill perfectly and can look structurally elegant especially when grouped in varying heights. Certain tree species will be very happy potted in planters and, by keeping their roots in a confined space, will control their growth.

Slow-growing olive trees are very suitable and bay lollipop standards are modern and popular. Here, two trees look simple yet sophisticated behind refined grey railings and the ornately hung watering can adds an artistic finish.

14. Maximise space with a wall mirror

balcony garden with flowering plants and sitting bench

(Image credit: Future Plc/Mark Bolton)

Add the illusion of space to your balcony by mounting a sheet of mirror on a wall. It will maximise the small space, bounce light to brighten any dark corners and double the colour by reflecting vivid plants and foliage. Here, the cool urban look is finished with a central display of beautiful hot pink and red tulips potted in a industrial-style cement planter.

15. Extend the kitchen by growing your own

kitchen balcony garden with potted plants and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Futrue Plc/Simon Scarboro)

Food lovers need not miss out as sheltered balcony gardens can make perfect salad and vegetables growing spots, so why not become an urban farmer with your very own balcony vegetable garden?

You don't need a huge garden to grow your own vegetables and herbs. Garden balconies make great mini allotments as they can be sheltered from wind and are often spots. Walls make great places to hang herbs and there are lots of small-container vegetable stations available that will fit your space. Being up high your produce is less likely to be damaged by pests and, of course, you have easy access back to your kitchen.

16. Cater for compact cooking

balcony friendly bbq machine

(Image credit: Morso)

With small space living becoming more topical designers are always looking for new ways to cater for our needs. This fabulous balcony-friendly BBQ is ideal for those with small outdoor spaces, to ensure  those living in multi-storey flats or with limited space no longer have to miss out on the joy of entertaining alfresco.

The compact design simply locks onto the railings of a balcony, meaning it doesn't take up any unnecessary space – when space is at a premium. It can also double up as an outdoor heater.

Buy now: Balcone Electric Barbecue, £349, Morso (opens in new tab)

17. Bring the balcony alive with a wildlife attraction

balcony with potted plants and sofa chair

(Image credit: lovethegarden.com)

The best gardens are those teaming with plant and animal life. And guess what? It is possible to recreate this wildlife oasis high up overlooking skyscrapers and cityscapes. Here we’ve got a range of green and lush leaves and a selection of flowering plants mixed in with the greenery to act as an oasis for bees, butterflies and birds.

To create a wildlife oasis at home, you’ll need lots of plants. Make sure you have a good mix of flowering plants as well as shrubs and trees to provide cover. This should feel less styled than some of the other designs. The centre stage must be reserved for the plants and foliage.

Which plants to use: Jasmine, lavender, foxglove, honeysuckle, musk mallow, bay tree, hydrangea, salvia.

18. Create a cosy corner

balcony garden with L shaped sofa and flowering plants

(Image credit: Future Plc/Mark Bolton)

Make your garden balcony an outdoor living room for relaxing with a large corner sofa filled with plenty of cushions for comfort. Many come with hidden storage to protect the seating pads in damp and wet weather. A low-level matching coffee table continues the casual vibe while an array of pretty structural pots filled with African daisies and lavender soften the look. Attractive storm lanterns will keep you alfresco into the night.

19. Make the most of a trellis

wooden fencing with hanging plants on it

(Image credit: Future Plc/ Lizzie Orme)

Make your balcony garden an inviting space for the evenings by adding a few crafty touches. Everyday items can be painted, upcycled and decorated to create a charming and secluded spot.

Fill a trellis with easy-to-make tealight holders and planters. Spray clean cans with two coats of paint and, once dry, thread wire through pierced holes and loop to form a hanger. Pierce drainage holes for the planters and punch patterns for the tealight holders. Use citronella candles in the tin holder to deter the midges.

20. Factor in functional furniture

balcony with wooden table chair and black metal railing

(Image credit: Future Plc/James Merrell)

If you are short on space look for quaint bistro-style furniture that can be folded away when not in use. Whatever the size, there are plenty of uses for your balcony garden. If there is room for an outdoor table and chairs you can use it as an outside dining room or maybe as a spill out area for when you are entertaining.

21. Plant a living wall

balcony garden with living wall and potted plants

(Image credit: lovethegarden.com)

Everyone’s heard of creating a statement wall in their home. But while this usually involves some brightly coloured paint or quirky wallpaper, consider taking the same approach on your balcony - but with plants. You can see here what’s possible with the right choice of greenery – and a living wall is a huge trend for 2021.

To get this look and ensure your living wall really stands out, it should be made the centrepiece of the space. It must immediately draw the eye, with the rest of the area designed with simplicity to enable the feature to sing. And remember, just opt for one striking wall to really make a statement.

Which plants to use: Adiantum (maidenhair fern), care oshimensis ‘evergold’ (sedge), fragaria ‘mara des bois’ (strawberry), galanthus (snowdrop), heuchera ‘purple petticoats’, liriope muscari (lilyturf), pachysandra terminalis (Japanese spurge), pelargonium peltatum (ivy-leaved geranium), Saxifraga x urbium (London pride), tiarella cordifolia (foam flower), vinca minor (lesser periwinkle).

What plants are good for a balcony garden?

Plant which are good for balcony gardens tend to be those that fair well in shade. Shady enclosed areas can be filled with lush green plants that thrive in the environment, such as ferns and hostas. Warmer spots in direct sunlight will suit a collection of Mediterranean sun-loving plants full of vivid colour, such as Olive trees.

Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director, Dobbies Garden Centres (opens in new tab) recommends Hardy ferns for shadier gardens. Saying, 'Perfect for shady gardens, lush leafy ferns paired with Camellias will create an oriental garden feel for your very own space of calm and zen. Choose Painted Ferns for a more colourful variety, these have a grey tinge that looks painted with flashes of silver and purple.' They thrive in moist soil so make sure you are watering regularly, and ensure your pots have suitable drainage.

How do I arrange my balcony garden?

Think about which spots get direct sunlight and which spots are mainly in the shade. You might be big on sunbathing, so want to reserve the sunnier spots for seating, while your plants can happily sit in the shade. Or you might prefer to keep yourself sat in the shade and let your plants enjoy the warmth of the sun. You also want to think about the view from inside your home, so don't place big plants in the eye-line of your view, big plants work best in corners or up against the house. Smaller plants work best dotted around the base of these planters, and on raised platforms.  Think about access to water and how far a hose might stretch too.

What can I grow on a shady balcony?

While there are plenty of plants that will thrive in shady spots, you could opt to choose plants that need no natural light at all, artificial plants! There are so many life-like options on the market, made specifically for use outdoor and that won't fade or deteriorate in the sun, wind or rain. Choose from palms in pots, trailing plants on trellis's or even flowers arranged in planters and hanging baskets, to give your balcony garden colour and life. Or perhaps you could opt for an artificial grass as your balcony flooring, like a big outside rug? It's certainly one way to add some green to your small space!

Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at Idealhome.co.uk to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.  

With contributions from