Creating a beautiful balcony garden

One of the benefits of owning your own home in an Audley Village is that your property and gardens are maintained for you. That said, many of our owners thoroughly enjoy gardening and take great pride in their own garden space, whether it be their balcony garden or terrace. There are also shared gardens and often allotments in Audley Villages.

Julien from Ashridge Trees kindly shares some advice on the best type of plants and flowers for balcony gardening this spring...

"If you’re restricted on space, you can easily create a lush oasis, whether it’s on a balcony or in window boxes."

You don’t need a large garden to create a beautiful flower display.

Balcony gardening is perfect for retirement properties, city dwellers and those without a garden. Your balcony can be transformed into a peaceful and relaxing corner bursting with life and colour.

When buying plants to create your small oasis there are a few things you need to take into consideration. Think about weight, compost and plant pots can be surprisingly heavy and it’s important to know how much weight your balcony can take.

"Choose lighter containers and look for compost that has been specifically made to be lightweight."

Evergreen shrubs and grasses

Evergreen shrubs are winter plants that will continue into the spring. Shrubs will retain their green leaves throughout the winter and make for a very attractive display. Either use a large container as a focal point or mix with a variety of dwarf shrubs for a mixture of foliage and flowers.

Grasses are a great choice for adding height, texture and contrast to a winter display. Carex will make for a perfect addition to your balcony garden. Combining grasses with flowering plants will look fantastic.

"When deciding on your plants for your balcony, consider how exposed your balcony is in terms of wind, shelter and sunshine."

If your balcony is very windy, think about creating some sort of shelter in the form of a windbreak or look towards plants that thrive in those sort of conditions. With that in mind, here are some of the best plants for balcony gardening.


Herbs are a fantastic choice for retirement properties with a balcony garden and window boxes. Enjoy the fresh aromatic scents outside and fill your space with greenery.

The majority of herbs remain fairly small and are well suited to container boxes. During the colder weather, try using evergreen perennials such as thyme, lavender, sage, rosemary and curry plant.

Unless you live in a very cold climate, you can grow herbs all year round. Herbs thrive in full sun or very light partial shade. Balcony gardens need frequent watering especially if they are south-facing.

Japanese Maple

If you have a sheltered balcony with partial shade then Japanese Maple is the perfect option for the balcony. Choose slow-growing varieties as they won’t grow too heavy or big, great for a small space.


Verbena performs well in hanging baskets or on the edge of containers. They need full sun and will flower from spring until the first frost. Available in a wide range of varieties and colours, verbena can handle sporadic watering but will rarely bloom in the shade. If you’re looking to attract more butterflies to your balcony while adding a colourful display, Verbena is a great option.

‘Golden Sword’

Yucca Flaccida or ‘Golden Sword’ is a plant that can shine throughout all four seasons. As well as combining so easily with other plants, it has beautiful, swordlike leaves. The mixture of dark green and golden yellow can be seen year round. The yucca thrives in sunny, dry conditions and will produce fragrant flowers in the centre during the summer. In late winter, the foliage may start to look a little flat but it will perk up in the spring ready to flower again.


If you’re looking to fill your outside space with attractive scents then jasmine is essential. Climber plants are perfect at creating privacy on balconies. Jasmine will grow well in sun or partial shade and will grow in pots or against walls. Use well-drained fertile soil and water them well during its first growing season.


Perennials are a fantastic place to start when building out your balcony garden. Try choosing 2-3 perennials that are suitable for your climate and conditions you have available. Winter-flowering pansies with maroon, yellow or white faces will continue to flower except in the very worst winter weather. Popular options include vigorous perennials such as crocosmia, lamium and lady’s mantle. Use decorative pots or containers to give your balcony a personal touch.

The majority of perennials will perform well in containers and will flower year after year.

"Spring is the best time of year to plant perennials in containers."

Make sure that all pots have a drainage hole, use fresh compost and water frequently.

‘Green Mountain’

The boxwood shrub can easily live in a container which will help to keep it much smaller than it’s normal 5-foot height. The shrub prefers a semi-shaded location away from strong winds. Unlike other boxwoods, this shrub retains its dark green colour throughout the winter. If you can, the ‘Green Mountain’ will appreciate being periodically rotated to balance out the plant’s exposure to light. This will help to reduce the development of bare sides.


A popular choice for balcony gardens, chrysanthemums come in a number of varieties and are known for their beauty. They can be grown anywhere from the home to the garden and balcony. The plant is usually grown as an annual and is relatively easy to grow and maintain. Plant in well-drained and airy soil at the same depth in which they were previously grown in the pot. Be sure to water generously for two weeks after planting, to help establish the plant.


As one of the many fruits you can grow in window boxes, containers, pots or hanging baskets, strawberries will brighten up your garden. A sunny balcony is perfect to grow these sweet fruits. Combine potting soil with fertiliser and fill up your container, leaving shallow holes for the plants. Generally, container plants require more watering than bedding plants. Try planting strawberries in hanging baskets as it makes it more difficult for pests to gain access.


Marigolds are often used as bedding plants but will thrive well in containers. Place Marigolds in full sun and water daily in the heat. As relatively low-maintenance flowers, they make for great container plants and help to keep pests away from nearby plants.

Cacti and Succulents

Give your houseplants a holiday during the summer and take them outside to your balcony. Cacti and succulents will love the brightness and sunshine. Most cacti and succulents go dormant during the winter when the temperature and daylight drops. Due to the wide variety of cacti and succulents, some are much more tolerant of cold temperatures than others. Plants from the Opuntia family are known to be cold-hardy and can tolerate the weather.

Thanks again to Julien de Bosdari for sharing his gardening advice on balcony and terrace gardening. Julien is an avid gardener and owner of Ashridge Trees, a mail order nursery in the south east.

More tips on gardening in retirement coming soon.

When you own your own home in an Audley Village your property and gardens are maintained for you... but if you enjoy gardening and would like to perfect your own garden space, then find out how it works at Audley.