You are fortunate enough to own a balcony! You have the opportunity to eat breakfast outdoors on your little piece of nature in the city. But be careful not to let it turn into a storage space which is out of control: you risk ruining your possessions and being subject to remarks from your neighbours.
1- What are you allowed to put on your balcony?
Contact your town hall, your neighbours or your co-ownership trust for more information. What are you allowed to put or hang on your balcony? Are there limits you have to respect in terms of the weight or height of plants?
Drying laundry? Mini vegetable patch or orchard? Bike? Barbecue? Worm composter? Depending on what you are allowed to do, you may have to give up certain activities.
2- What do you want to do with your balcony?
A mini garden or a real outside living room? Just having access to it or taking full advantage of the vegetation?
Depending on your choice (and especially the size of your balcony), you will have to choose between plant pots which you place on the ground (think about watering!) or balcony flower boxes which you attach to the railings.
Do you prefer a balcony with an open outlook or a private space? In order to limit neighbours looking in, check if you are allowed to install screens that you would have to fix permanently to the railings. If this is prohibited, a few fast-growing bushes, like bamboo, will do the job.
3- Protecting what stays outside
The conditions are tough on a city balcony: you get more sunlight, wind and rain than on the ground.
You will therefore have to focus on protecting the objects that stay outside in all weathers, or alternatively plan on bringing them inside at the end of autumn.
Let’s take outdoor furniture, for example: the minimum you would need to make the most of your balcony is two chairs and a small table. If you wish to leave them outside for the whole year, choose robust materials that are resistant to humidity and cold. Or simply go for folding furniture that you can store indoors during the winter.
If you have set up a cosy corner with blankets, cushions and a pretty tablecloth, put them all away in the evening in a plastic box on wheels that you can move around as you please. Or set up a chest which can also be used for seating and can remain outside all year round.
As an amateur gardener, you have carefully chosen your strawberries, tomatoes and aromatic herbs. Nevertheless, if you want your balcony to remain pleasant to look at, think about the equipment that will need to be stored away: watering cans, fertilisers, plant supports, garden forks, labels, and so on. All of this can be easily tidied away in different transparent or coloured plastic boxes with lids. Feel free to transfer compost, sand and straw-mulching into plastic boxes from the same range: the overall effect will be more harmonious.
Bike helmets and jackets, roller skates etc. can be protected in the same kind of containers.
4- How to store boxes on a balcony?
These different boxes must be placed on solid shelves. If you can, choose shelves with various adjustable levels that you can put up along the wall: there is never enough space to store all of our things. If not, choose chests that you can place at the foot of the railings.
You can also fix shelves to the wall with shelf brackets to place your plants and storage boxes on.
Finally, for optimum protection, a plastic cabinet will also do the job just as well. They are available in various heights, widths and finishes to blend in perfectly with your balcony.