Having a balcony in your home is a blessing. It comes with lots of potentials and improves your overall spatial experience. But it needs to be designed in the right way, especially if you want to keep a garden on your balcony. So, how will your balcony get enough sun?
The direction of your balcony determines if it gets enough sun. South-facing balconies get the most, and north-facing ones get the least. Those facing the east and west get sunlight in the morning and afternoon, respectively. You can keep a healthy garden on all balconies no matter the sun exposure.
However, there’s more to gardening on your balcony than sunlight. You also have to prepare for the winds, among other things. Here, we discuss the amount of sunlight your balcony gets based on the direction and how to use it effectively in each case.
How Directions Affect Amount of Sunlight on Balconies
Where the balcony is facing matters greatly when it comes to sunlight. Here’s how direction determines the sunlight your balcony will get.
A south-facing balcony gets the most sunlight throughout the day. It’s the ideal place for you to sunbathe and enjoy the sun’s rays directly. But it could get very hot in the summer when the sun is most fierce. Thus, it helps to invest in sunscreen for this period. If not, you won’t be able to use the balcony by midsummer.
Suppose you’re also planning to get plants for the balcony. Go for plants that can withstand the intensity of sunlight. This includes hibiscus, oleanders, lavender, geraniums, lantana, zinnias, etc. You’ll also need to water them more often. You must get the right kind of furniture for the south-facing balcony. Wooden furniture is the best as metal ones will get hot. It also helps to have sun protection that’ll provide shade in the summer. Get parasols or awnings for your balcony, depending on the size.
The sun rises in the east. So, the balcony facing the east will get a lot of sunlight in the morning. Most times, the sunlight in the morning is mild, which enables you to enjoy it. You won’t be needing sunscreen at this point, except if you’ve already experienced some heat in the morning. However, the east-facing balcony will be in the shade by afternoon.
Thus, the east-facing balcony is superb in the morning. You can enjoy breakfast here and watch the sunrise. Given that it’s only getting half a day of sunshine go for plants that thrive in such an environment. Common examples include lobelias, fuchsias, boxwood, cranesbill, petunias, and impatiens. A tile flooring could be great here because it’ll retain the heat in the morning and still be warm in the evening.
The west-facing balcony doesn’t get much light in the morning. But you’ll enjoy a lot of direct sunlight in the second part of the day. This kind of balcony is ideal for those who want to spend their evenings lounging. It allows for relaxation.
This balcony can be hot in the summer because it starts getting exposure when the sun peaks. So, it’s advisable to avoid using metal furniture. Instead, opt for cushioned furniture that’ll be comfortable to lounge on. Sun protection must also be necessary, especially in the summer.
When the balcony is facing north, it’ll get minimal sun. This makes it ideal for the summer when you’re trying to escape the heat. But beyond that, it’s not fun. Plants on this balcony have to be those that don’t need much sunlight daily. Grasses and ferns are great. But you can get flowery plants too, such as hydrangeas, lobelia, fuchsias, begonias, Ivy, etc.
Try to use brightly colored planters and pots that reflect the sunlight. A north-facing balcony rarely gets direct sunlight. So, you may want to get blankets and lanterns on cold days. When you have a shady spot like this, you need to be very considerate in the design. Since it won’t dry quickly, you should go for options that dry fast. For example, tiles for the floor are ideal because they don’t take much sunlight to dry and don’t absorb water.
As for furniture, it’s best to avoid wooden furniture. They can remain damp for a long time, leading to rot. Go for plastic or metal options instead. If you get wooden furniture, get ready to deep clean it regularly to prevent any damage. You should also select the right decorations and seating. Light colors are the best, making the place brighter and more welcoming.
Tips For Keeping A Balcony Garden
Having a garden is one of the best ways to maximize your balcony. But there’s more to achieving that than getting enough sunlight. Here are other things you have to consider:
1. Prepare For Wind
You should be ready for the wind if you have a balcony on your high-rise building. A regular breeze is great for you and the plants. But once it starts becoming stronger, it could cause damage. You can protect your garden by getting a windbreaker. A windbreaker is any barrier that limits the intensity of the wind while still allowing air in. Slatted and mesh screens are quite good for this.
Your plants can also be natural windbreakers. Holly, boxwood, or Rosemary can serve. But make sure they’re in big planters. This ensures that they don’t get knocked down by the wind. You could also opt for a plant that is naturally resistant to wind. This includes mondo grass, Cordyline, Bamboo, Japanese Anemone, Dwarf Mountain Pine, etc.
2. Get The Right Compost and Container
It’s important to go for the right compost. Most times, this isn’t peat-based compost. They’re harder to rehydrate and dry out quickly. Once they dry out, they can be very light and easily get pushed over. Soil-based compost is more advisable. You should also opt for bigger pots made from ceramic, metal, fiberglass, and plastic. Smaller pots can’t retain as much moisture, so they dry up faster and get knocked over.
3. Use Automatic Irrigation System
Watering your garden can be difficult if you’re busy. The best solution to this is to have an automatic irrigation system. It’s easy to install all these drip pumps, and you should have a water drain for the excess runoff.
The direction of your balcony will determine how much sunlight you get. Balconies facing the north are the least likely to get enough sunlight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden on them. Even areas with the least sunlight still have plenty of plants that’ll thrive there.