10 balcony design tips
Beyond just the look and feel of your perfect outdoor oasis, there are some key design elements that must be considered to make it functional, as well as fun. From what time of day you’ll spend outside to making the most of a small space, here are 10 tips to keep in mind for your perfect balcony design project.
1 Check with a qualified professional as to the structural loading capacity of your terrace. Not all buildings can support the same weight loads and many buildings may not be able to withstand the weight of the materials you are thinking of using. Consider lightweight alternatives to traditional materials.
2 Think about how the space will be used in all four seasons. Even if you don't actively go out onto your balcony or terrace in the winter months, it can and should be attractive to look at from indoors.
3 Consider what time of day you will be spending most of your time in your outdoor space. Do you work during the day? If so, plan your terrace or balcony design for nighttime enjoyment. Plan on lighting being an integral part of the design.
4 Plan very carefully. When designing a small space, every inch counts. Make sure the scale of the various built elements and furnishings is appropriate to the size of your overall space.
5 Use "layering" (foreground, middle ground, background) to create the illusion of greater size and depth within your balcony or terrace.
6 Choose plant materials that are appropriate to your microclimate. This is as important, or even more important, than when you are planning ground-level planting beds. Your particular exposure (direction you face) and patterns of wind will create a very specific microclimate. Plan on using plants that are at least one full zone hardier than you would if you were down at ground level. Or, integrate annuals and “hot” tropicals into your planting design, knowing that they will be replaced each season.
8 When designing your balcony or terrace, and when choosing materials and finishes, remember to link your indoor rooms with your outdoor room(s). Carry the indoors out. This is particularly critical in a small space where continuity and flow are very important.
9 Don't forget to include some storage in the overall design. You'll need a place for gardening tools, potting soil, and a host of other odds and ends. Design the space so your gardening will be as pleasurable as possible.
10 If you feel at all overwhelmed or unsure of how to create your ideal balcony or terrace garden, hire a qualified professional, such as a landscape architect with experience in this niche to guide you through the process.