21 balcony garden ideas to create your own outdoor oasis

From furniture and decor to planting and privacy

Small balcony with artificial grass and rattan furniture
(Image credit: Future PLC)

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.

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

Before you begin decking out your area, 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.

Now with your planting list in mind, these balcony garden ideas can help you make the most of whatever space you have.

1. Choose furniture with storage

Balcony with garden sofa and outdoor rug

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Space is at a premium when it comes to your balcony garden ideas, so make your furniture work harder. Some of the best garden furniture around can play double duty, acting as storage as well as tables or seating.

Use these to store outdoor cushions, planting essentials and anything else balcony-specific. While these should all be water-tight in theory, there's no harm in adding a lining or wrapping your items in plastic before adding them in, in order to ensure your belongings survive the tempestuous British weather.

2. Lay artificial grass

Small balcony with artificial grass and rattan furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If the main thing you wish you could take from a garden up onto a balcony is the grass, then never fear. While planting a mini lawn may not be the best, or easiest, idea, you can instead lay artificial grass.

The variations are getting incredibly soft underfoot and realistic looking, so you can delight all the senses with this addition to your balcony garden ideas.

3. Add a climber

Metal balcony with trailing plant

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your balcony isn't too high up you may be able to train a planter up bamboo from the ground beneath. Your best options, depending on the angle of your garden, are likely to be jasmine or clematis and with both of these you'll also have the benefit of some beautiful blooms to boot.

4. Trick the eye

Balcony with blue feature wall and colourful dining set

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you have a plain wall on your balcony, consider painting it in a shade that will effectively disappear. Choose a mild colour that's a pale, mid-toned blue that's a good average to the various shades of the sky.

An added plus is that instead of disappearing on an overcast day, you'll be greeted with a hint of colour which will brighten things up,

5. Create a natural canopy

garden with creepers potted plants and table with chair

(Image credit: Ikea)

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.

6. Add pops of 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 garden ideas. 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.

7. Place plants on a ladder

garden area with potted plants on ladder shelf

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

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.

8. Arrange plants at different heights

balcony garden with olivblad plant stand and potted plants

(Image credit: 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.

9. Opt for a black back-drop

balcony garden with potted plants

(Image credit: 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 garden courtyard walls 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.

10. Add benches

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 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.

11. 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.

12. Install a fence

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.

13. Invest in structural trees

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, such as olive trees and bay, will be very happy potted in planters and, by keeping their roots in a confined space, will control their growth.

14. Maximise space with a wall mirror

balcony garden with flowering plants and sitting bench

(Image credit: Future Plc/Mark Bolton)

Maximise the feeling of space to your balcony garden ideas by adding an outdoor mirror. It will maximise the small space, bounce light to brighten any dark corners and double the colour by reflecting vivid plants and foliage. 

15. Grow 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. Balcony-friendly BBQs are 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.

17. Make it wildlife friendly

Balcony with brick and glass walls and selection of potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The best gardens are those teaming with plant and animal life, and it's just the same when it comes to balcony garden ideas. 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. Include plants such as 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)

Turn your balcony garden ideas into 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.

19. Make the most of a trellis

wooden fencing with hanging plants on it

(Image credit: Future Plc/ Lizzie Orme)

Make your balcony garden ideas 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. Consider foldable furniture

balcony with wooden table chair and black metal railing

(Image credit: Future Plc/James Merrell)

If you're short on space then look for quaint bistro-style furniture that can be folded away when not in use. After all, 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 by creating a living wall.

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.


What can I grow on a shady balcony?

Plants which are good for balcony garden ideas 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 recommends ferns for shadier balconies. 'Lush leafy ferns paired with Camellias will create an oriental garden feel for your very own space of calm and zen,' he says. '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.

Whatever you end up doing to your balcony, you're bound to enjoy your newly revamped outdoor 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