If you think your outside space isn’t big enough to make proper use of, here are several tips on how to design & decorate your small balcony to make the most of it and turn it into a cosy yet functional space.
Not all of us are lucky enough to have a garden or a large terrace to make the most of during the warmer months. But what if we told you that even the smallest of balconies can become the perfect place for a Parisian-style breakfast or an aperitif when the sun goes down? Here we will share some irresistible ideas so that you can make the most of your small outdoor space for the sunnier days ahead.
Make the most of the space
Although we have to be realistic and understand that we can’t have everything we would like, the first thing we will do is, taking into account the dimensions of our space, distribute the furniture so that we have a comfortable seating area. Use furniture that is not too bulky or that is easy to fold.
Decorate your balcony with different pots of flowers or aromatic plants. To do this, use planters that face outwards or a tiered wooden support as a shelf where you can display your plants, place garlands or other decorations.
Small balcony: add a chillout area
If you are lucky enough to have a bit of width on your terrace, we suggest placing a small chillout area with pallets and some nice soft cushions where you can relax after dinner.
Trellises for privacy
If you are worried about spying neighbours, you can put up trellises to get a bit of privacy. As well as being functional, they will give you a lot of possibilities when it comes to placing vines, hanging garlands and even wall decorations.
Small balcony design: practical storage
If you have a free corner on your terrace, we suggest you take advantage of this space to place a waterproof outdoor box to keep your cushions, blankets and other outdoor accessories safe and protected from rain. Plus, you’ll always have an extra seat ready for when you need it by simply adding a couple of cushions to its surface.
Create a magical atmosphere in your small balcony design
Once we have the furniture and the rest of the details in place, we only need to give it a cosy touch by using small lights. Lanterns on the floor, solar fairy lights entwined in the planters or hanging from the trellises will make your balcony your favourite place this upcoming season.
Those of us garden lovers look after our plants in all seasons, but most especially just before the arrival of the harsh winter. We know from experience that wind, rain, snow and frost can wipe out all the work that we have previously done in the garden, and for this reason it is very important to start preparing the garden for winter.
Preparing the garden for winter
Preventing damage to plants
Plants grown in pots usually appreciate a change of location in winter to get more sunshine and enjoy warmer temperatures. Group them together so that they can protect each other. Don’t forget about their roots: protect the pot with newspaper, bubble wrap or straw mulch to slightly increase the temperature of the soil in the pots. Your plants’ roots will thank you for it. It never hurts to buy a few metres or bags of garden fleece frost cover to cover trees, shrubs and other types of plants. Unlike plastic, this material allows the plant to breathe and the light to reach it. It can also be used to cover cultivation tunnels in your vegetable garden.
Preparing the garden for winter: lawn care
Lawn really benefits from a good scarification in the autumn, which will help drainage and reduce the appearance of moss. This is also a good time to reseed those unsightly bold areas in the lawn.
If the weather gets very humid, the best option is to apply an anti-moss product. It will provide the lawn with two essential nutrients for the winter: iron and sulfur. After applying the product and waiting for it to act, you will be able to simply remove both moss and thatch with a rake.
Do not mow the lawn, let it grow so it can cope better with the low winter temperatures. In late autumn, apply a fertiliser rich in phosphorus and potassium, which will also help it survive the winter. And as much as it is possible, avoid stepping on it when frozen.
Pruning trees and shrubs
Another way of preparing the garden for winter is pruning trees and shrubs, as most plants are dormant during the cold season. The absence of foliage will allow you to better see the trees’ branches in order to prune them, as well as to apply preventive treatments to eliminate pests that hide in their bark during the winter.
This is also the time to prune rose bushes, wisteria, and apple and pear trees: they will really benefit from it, and you will see the results in the spring with new and more productive shoots.
Winter gardening: fine-tune your greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, remove any structure that you have put in place to provide shade during the summer. In the winter you have to make the most of the sunshine and the heat that it provides. If this is your first year with a greenhouse, keep an eye on it for a few days to figure out which areas get more hours of sunshine during the day, and put your plants there.
Check the condition of the polycarbonate sheets for possible tears and breaks. Make sure the paraffin burners are up and ready, just in case you need to turn them on. Also, check that the ground anchoring system is in good condition.
Add mulch and compost to your flower beds
Both compost and mulch will protect your flower beds from low temperatures. Compost will also provide important nutrients to the soil, which your plants will greatly benefit from next spring.
The autumn season generates a lot of organic waste: make good use of it by adding it to your compost pile. Cover your compost bins with plastic to avoid them filling with water, as this would contribute to the appearance of microorganisms that could alter the composting process.
Preparing the garden for winter: protect your garden furniture
If you have a shed in your garden, use it to store all the garden furniture that you won’t use during the colder months. If you don’t have a shed, protect the furniture with waterproof covers.
Wooden benches, tables, loungers and chairs all benefit from regular maintenance. Use protective oils to waterproof them and make them last longer. If you have metal garden furniture, make sure that the paint is in good condition to prevent the furniture from rusting with moisture.
Get your garden tools ready
Cold and humid winter days are perfect for carrying out DIY and maintenance jobs inside the house, where it’s nice and warm. Take this opportunity to tune up your tools: sharpen and lubricate your pruning shears to have them ready when you need them, change the broken or chipped handles of hand tools, check the mower and buy spare parts which you may need in the spring.
Use this time to clean and tidy up your shed before storing anything in there. Make sure you store boxes and other belongings making them easy to access according to when you might need them in the future. Always wash your seedling trays and transplanting pots with a bleach and water solution, in order to leave them ready for spring.
Feed the birds in winter
If winter is hard for us, imagine how challenging it is for birds to find food. You can put feeders and water bowls or dispensers not only in the garden, but also the porch, the terrace and even the balcony. If you place them close to the house windows, you will be able to enjoy watching the birds come and go, and you will learn about the different bird species in your area and their habits and behaviour.
You can buy seed mixtures rich in fats and oils, which will provide birds with maximum energy. Don’t forget to regularly add water to the water dispensers and bowls, since it is very likely that they will not be able to find it in liquid form during the coldest months.
You finally get home after a few well-deserved days off and rush to check how your plants are doing. Have any of them dried out? Has the home watering system not worked as you expected? Wait, before you throw them away, Ester Casanovas, gardening expert at ManoMano, has compiled some top tips on how to revive your plants that might have suffered during your holidays.
How to revive your plants step-by-step
Before we get down to work, check what went wrong: did you use a home method to keep your plants moist or did the person who was supposed to water them not do it properly? Make a mental note so that you can solve these problems on your next trip. Remember that you can always automate the watering of your pots with a drip irrigation system or solutions for less prolonged absences.
1. Cut off all dried leaves and flowers
What has dried out is dead and will not recover. The plant will thank you for it, as it will avoid sending nutrients to those unsalvageable parts during the hydration process.
Use sharp pruning shears and clean them with alcohol between plants. If they have fallen ill during your absence, you will avoid possible contagion.
2. Check plants for pests
A weakened plant is often an easy target for different types of pests. Check the tops and undersides of leaves and stems, and use the most appropriate insecticide for the problem detected. If possible, remove the topsoil and throw it away: this will eliminate the possibility of some insect eggs hatching and will speed up subsequent hydration.
3. Water your plants
A dehydrated plant requires careful watering, and we often make the mistake of putting it in a bucket for hours until it is waterlogged. It is true, a bucket will help, but so will a little patience and the knowledge that just because it is submerged for a long time, it will not recover quickly.
If your dry plant is planted in the ground, use a rake to create furrows in the soil: this will make it easier for the watering to penetrate deeply. If you have only recently repotted it, you can try removing it and the root ball: dip it in a bucket and wait until air bubbles no longer appear on the surface.
Use lukewarm water to rehydrate the plants: most substrates absorb it better than cold water, and in this way, in addition to the plant, the dry soil will also be rehydrated, regaining its permeability.
If the plant is in a pot, proceed in the same way, but remove the plant from the pot.
4. Spray the leaves
Spray the leaves of the plant with a spray bottle, and take the opportunity to clean them if they are dusty. If so, then spray again and let it dry on its own.
If its size allows, you can also put it in the bath or shower, spraying it generously.
5. Observe for a few days
Keep the soil moist for the next few days and watch closely for small changes. If the limp leaves stand upright again and the stems remain firm, it is very likely that the recovery process has been successful.
A change of location can also help, especially if it is an outdoor plant that was in full sun: it will recover much more easily if it is in shade or semi-shade for a few days.
The leaves of plants can dry out due to both over- and under-watering.
Finally, we would like to add a note that may be useful in some cases: over-watering can cause similar symptoms to under-watering. The leaves of the plants also become limp and may turn yellow, which can lead to confusion. In this case, you will need to check the humidity of the soil and proceed in the same way but suspend any watering.
Remove the plant from the pot or soil with as much soil as possible in the root ball. Use kitchen paper to absorb as much moisture as possible and let it air dry for a whole day.
Put the plant back in place and wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.
Like most renovators, the garden was a low priority for a very long time. But with dreams of holidaying abroad fading by the hour, my partner and I knew it was time to roll our sleeves up and get the garden sorted pronto. We have relandscaped which we are incredibly proud of, however there’s lots more work to do. Our current patio is a pretty depressing cracked-concrete situation which we hope to change one day. However, this summer we are working with what we’ve got, and using showstopping garden furniture from ManoMano was crucial as a way to spruce things up.
ManoMano has a huge garden furniture selection, so the options are endless. It was overwhelming trying to decide but ultimately it felt right to stay true to our interior style which includes a love of wood and natural materials. Selecting ManoMano’s acacia garden set felt like the right decision due to it’s classic yet warm feel. Matching reclining chairs are a massive bonus as it gives us the flexibility of having seating that can be used for comfort and relaxation post-meal also.
We have a lot of wooden furniture inside our house, so we liked the idea of continuing this theme in the garden. Not only does wood suit our personal taste and style, but it’s also durable. We wouldn’t recommend plastic as it doesn’t age as well, and metal rusts over time – so wood felt like the common sense choice!
Though forest green is a traditional parasol colour, off-white felt like the perfect choice to give us Mediterranean-in-the UK vibes to transport us away when spending time outside. We also like that the white fabric is light reflecting, so it really helps to brighten up the area.
In the future, the plan will be to tile the patio and repaint the render. What’s great about this outdoor dining furniture set is that it’s neutral enough in style so it will go with whichever creative direction we choose for the rest of the patio.
Upon arrival, the table and chairs were well flat packed and I couldn’t wait to set them up! However some elbow grease and patience was required with the help of an Allen key and a few evening hours, but it was worth the wait. Once finally in situ on the patio (and a few strategically placed potted plants) the space instantly felt transformed. As I love Mediterranean gardens, I wanted this theme to run through the finishing touches of our outdoor dining set up, with blue and white seat pads, nautical linens and rustic feeling tableware.
You could elevate your space even more by including a few decorative pieces:
We can’t wait to host in the garden and enjoy our new outdoor dining furniture while the summer lasts. Getting longevity out of the furniture for years to come will require a bit of TLC as wooden furniture is porous and can be damage-prone. Being vigilant and covering on rainy days plus occasionally rubbing in with wood oil will be part of the aftercare process, but to keep our garden gorgeous every summer, I think it’s worth it!
The most refreshing summer herbs can be grown both on the terrace and in the ground, since they can easily adapt to pots, planters or any part of your garden. You can always have them at hand, as they are outdoor plants that can also be grown in the kitchen, provided they get plenty of light. Here are a few basic tips on the 5 easiest herbs to grow for your summer dishes. You will find out about their basic care, how to propagate them and to extend their production. Follow these tips to be able to infuse your summer recipes with flavour and freshness.
Basil, the king of summer
Who doesn’t love a good pesto or a simple Caprese salad with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil? Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an annual plant, which means that it will die when the colder temperatures arrive and you will need to replant it the following spring. During the spring and summer, we will be able to enjoy its aromatic and scented leaves in a lot of different dishes.
We recommend that you cut the flowers when these start to appear, in order to lengthen the life of the plant. Always cut them below the first pair of leaves from which the inflorescences are growing.
Sowing: In the spring: spread some seeds on the ground, without sinking them too deep into it. Cover them lightly with a bit of soil and water. They will sprout in a few days.
Transplanting: It is not necessary to transplant basil unless you used seed trays initially. If you have bought a pot with many plants in it, divide the root ball into 3 or 4 different parts, and transplant them separately. Each one of the small stems will grow into a single plant, and if there are too many in the pot, they won’t be able to grow and develop.
Location: Place it in a spot where it gets plenty of light, even direct sunlight, for a few hours every day. At the height of summer it will be thankful for some shade during the hottest time of the day.
Watering: keep the soil moist, without flooding it. If the plant needs more water, you will notice right away, as its leaves will start to look weak and droopy.
Mint and spearmint, two of the most refreshing herbs
You can easily grow new mint and spearmint plants, just by putting a cutting in water. In less than a week the roots will start to grow and you will be able to transplant them wherever you want.
Even though they both belong to the mint family, the aroma of Peppermint(Mentha spicata) is different from that of Mint(Mentha piperita). Still, they are both equally refreshing. Make no mistake: peppermint is the one used in mojitos, while mint is perfect for cold infusions, green juices and various recipes (yogurt-based sauces, cold salads, etc.).
Sowing: In the spring: their seeds are tiny, like dust, so they should not be buried. Spread them out on the ground and then water with a garden spray bottle.
Transplanting: Both mint and spearmint are very invasive plants, and they live for several years, sometimes losing their leaves in the winter. They grow underground stolons, which can sometimes reach quite far away from the mother plant, so it is recommended that you grow them in pots, planters, or in spaces enclosed by rockery.
Location: They love the sun, yet they will enjoy some shade during the hottest hours of the day.
Watering: Keep the soil moist, paying particular attention to the plant’s leaves. If they need watering, you will notice that the leaves start to droop.
Flat-leaf or giant parsley are more aromatic herbs than the curly-leaf variety (Petroselinum sativum var. crispum).
Parsley (Petroselinum sativum var. latifolium) is a key herb to a lot of British cuisine. A parsley and garlic mash is an essential ingredient in a lot of cold recipes, stews, and a whole lot of other dishes.
Sowing:Of all the herbs that we are covering in this article, parsley is the one that takes the longest to germinate, sometimes up to 4 weeks. Spread the seeds on the ground, cover them with a thin layer of soil, and water. Don’t forget about them: keep the soil moist until they begin to sprout.
Transplanting: In the ground or to a pot, leaving a separation of about 10 cm between plants.
Location: Partial sun or semi-shade.
Watering: Every two or three days in the summer, although it will always depend on the amount of sunshine it gets, as well as the size of the pot. If it is small and the plant has grown a lot, it may need daily watering due to the large number of leaves that it develops.
The coriander plant is very versatile, as all its part can be used in the kitchen: the leaves, the seeds and in some recipes, even the roots.
The taste of Cilantro(Coriandrum sativum) is certainly a matter of controversy: you either hate it or you love it. Yet it is an essential ingredient of the refreshing guacamole, as well as of a many other Portuguese, Latin American and Asian recipes, both for its leaves and for its seeds.
Sowing: In the spring or autumn, just barely burying the seeds, less than 1 cm into the soil.
Transplanting: To pots, planters or directly in the ground, with a separation of 10-15 cm between plants.
Location: Sun or partial shade, avoiding direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day.
Watering: Keep the soil moist.
Seed discs are very practical, you just have to place them on the ground, cover them lightly with soil, and water them. When they begin to sprout, all you need to do is separate the seedlings, or eliminate some of them so that each of the remaining ones has space to grow.
(As usual) I will end with a tip learned from personal experience: it is a good idea to grow herbs in pots or planters that can be moved around as the weather changes from spring to summer. Mint, for example, can grow very well in full sunlight in the spring, yet in that same spot get scorched during the summer, no matter how much we water it.