How to create a Mediterranean balcony garden – tips from a top garden designer2 November, 2021
Living in the city comes with many exciting benefits, although the one interest to many people is wanting a place for a small garden within their city lifestyle. This may come in a variety of sizes from large terrace to small balconies needing low maintenance balcony plants. These areas are often the extension of the interior space and the city view beyond, and quite different scenarios to a ground floor garden.
The most important point when designing your balcony or terrace is to be very clear about how you wish to use this space, whether your plans are for it to be simply an attractive privacy barrier, a seating dining area, space for home workouts or extra room to play with the children. This is where evergreen balcony plants can make a huge difference to your lifestyle and just one addition of greenery or mediterranean garden pots can make it a more welcoming space.
For those who have busy lives, may need to travel often or don’t have much gardening knowledge, a Mediterranean theme may be a great choice for you, the benefits include:
- these plants are quite drought tolerant,
- easy to care for
- include attractive and aromatic plant options
- have attractive evergreen foliage for year-round interest
- can be both ornamental and structural
- Easy to pair with colourful furnishings and accessories
This planting theme will cope well on most balconies, as long as there is some sun for these plants, they will do great. Do bear in mind that this scheme would not be recommended for balconies which are mostly in shade (north facing north east balconies) a specific shade tolerant planting palette would be recommended for these.
Deciding on planters for any design can become overwhelming with all the choices available, think about the space you have available and do not clutter your balcony. Keep in mind that you most probably will hand water your plants, you want to be able to reach the planters.
Choosing planters and Mediterranean garden pots
Everyone has their own personal style and a balcony is a great way to reflect this, but specific choices to evoke the Mediterranean garden design and feel include variations of grey and terracotta.
- Classic clay pots are a great choice. If you intend to retain moisture ensure your pots are glazed; on the other hand, if you experience lots of rainfall in your area, then unglazed clay pots might be a better choice as they favour evaporation and therefore contribute to drainage. Clay pots also add weight, which helps to ensure they wont easily fall over in strong winds.
- Choosing a selection of pots at varying heights can create a very attractive feature which allows planting at different levels and feels more immersive, such as these tapered rustic pots.
- This egg planter set is an attractive pot choice to keep the scheme neutral while adding a pop of texture, mediterranean garden ornaments are great for this!
- Planter accessories such as the Lechuza Coaster can be very useful as they are a small base on wheels, if you think you might need to regularly move things around and facilitate cleaning
- Making sure it has adequate drainage at the base, and adding planter trays beneath your pots to avoid leakage, otherwise you can find pots with a built in drainage tray.
If you travel for extensive periods at a time and you worry that you garden may need watering in your absence, you can consider self-watering planters which can look after your plants for weeks thanks to their hidden water reservoirs.
A tasteful selection of mediterranean garden ornaments coupled with low maintenance balcony plants and our self watering planters ticks a lot of boxes for practicality and lifestyle.
Elements of Mediterranean garden design along with popular plant choices and guidance can also be browsed at the RHS website.
Small Mediterranean garden ideas for the UK – plant choices
When is comes to choosing plants for your Mediterranean garden design, this palette includes a good combination of feature architectural plants, evergreen foliage species, option for adding spot of colour and ornamental grasses which look wonderful in the balcony breeze.
Astelia chathamica – dramatic silver foliage, a great architectural plant to pair with grasses and other foliage plants
Armeria maritima – this evergreen perennial with tufts of long leaves has either white or pink small flowers and an easy small plant to fit into small balcony spaces, adding a drop of colour to each planter
Chamaerops humilis – a great cold hardy palm, available in varying heights, the rounded mass of fan shaped leaves is perfect for adding height and as a textural feature plant
Erigeron karvinskianus – attractive, small daisy like flowers, easily fills a pot or planters and survives well in cold winters
Eryngium ‘big blue’ – this striking plant with detailed blue flowers works well with the green and silver colours of a Mediterranean garden scheme
Hebe ‘Caledonia’ – these are very versatile plants, an evergreen shrub with upright reddish-purple stems and purple flowers in spring
Herbs – thyme, oregano, rosemary – great aromatic options and add an edible element to the balcony, allowing you to have fresh herbs year-round. Be wary of planting larger plants too close that might shade them out
Festuca glauca – a neat grass with a strong blue colour and attractive cream/brown tall flowers in late summer
Lavander species – beautifully scented and add great colour to greens and silvers of this Mediterranean palette
Laurus nobilis – aromatic evergreen Bay tree or shrub, a good choice if you are looking for a bit more height, they can come in varying shapes to fit your preference
Olea europea – olive trees add a definite Mediterranean feel to your scheme, they do great on balconies as they are evergreen, and cope well with pollution and drought.
Pinus mugo ‘Mops’ – this is an attractive small compact conifer, with varying sizes available, it works well will softer planting of rosemary, grasses and pittosporum
Pittosporum tobira ‘nanum’ – a lovely textural evergreen shrub with sweet scented flowers in summer, this does well with being clipped into shapes if you choose
Santolina rosmarinifolia – this evergreen shrub is great for dry conditions, with beautiful yellow flowers in summer
Salvia nemorosa – attractive perennial to add deep purple colours which work well with the varying greens, removing the dead flowers will encourage it to flower all summer into autumn
Stachys byzantina – attractive thick soft leaves with lightly purple flowers, works well as a low growing plant if you want to retain city views from your space
Stipa tenuissima and Sesleria autumnalis – both elegant grass choices which look beautiful catching the evening sun and swaying in the breeze, goes well with herbs and evergreen shrubs
For further Mediterranean garden ideas, see this guide on the RHS website.
Choosing Furniture and Accessories
When it comes to furniture and accessories, keeping it simple on balconies and terraces can make all the difference, as the atmosphere around any Mediterranean garden theme is relaxed, sensual and calming, so avoid cluttering up your space.
A few great options include:
- modern colourful rugs and soft cushions to compliment the strong textures and of this planting scheme
- flexible café style table and chairs in a vibrant colour choice can add a sense of energy and excitement to your space
- simple integrated timber benches which won’t intrude into your balcony are a great choice if you are short on space and help add a warm finish to your space.
- simple black solar powered lanterns or spike lights could work well with lighting up textural plants or large shrubs at night
- To further enhance the Mediterranean garden design and feel, you can include a few rocks and gravel areas to your space, keeping in mind that this adds quite a bit of extra weight and you want to ensure your space can support this. Alternative lightweight man-made options are available which resemble life-like rocks really well.
About the author
Bridgette Macilwaine is a creative, energetic and passionate Landscape Architect, dedicated to making a positive impact on our interaction between landscapes, nature and the built environment.
Bridgette has a particular interest in small UK Mediterranean garden ideas for all project sizes within urban settings. She currently works in private and community projects in the Brighton area, where she has developed a deep appreciation for the connection between our gardens, our mental health and enhancing biodiversity.
For a consultation on your project, low maintenance balcony plants, evergreen balcony plants or advice on mediterranean garden ornaments please contact [email protected] or visit her website beewainedesigns.com
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