Many homes in Laguna Niguel count balcony space in the square footage. Yet how many people really make use of this often small space? Whether your balcony is large enough for a large screen TV and a wet bar or a tiny sliver, you can add value and enjoyment to your home with a few easy steps.
First of all, take a good look at the exposure. Do you need sun or wind protection? What about privacy? Do you have electricity or water on your balcony. What about the floor?
All of these factors play significant roles in planning your space. Beginning with the exposure. Many balconies have direct sun at certain times of the day. Small tilt umbrellas are a great addition both to provide sun protection and to cozy up the space. This is a good time to take advantage of end of summer sales. Investing in sunbrella fabric on your umbrella will save you a lot in the long run as the fabric is virtually indestructible. Even the tiniest balcony can be enhanced this way.
If wind is your problem, plexiglass panels behind existing railing will help without obstructing the view. Also, tall plants like bamboo or podocarpus planted in heavy containers provide green screens and privacy as well. If you don’t want to carry a heavy pot upstairs, try an attractive plastic container and anchor it to the railing so it won’t blow over in a storm or weight it with a brick on the bottom before planting. Some balconies are covered and have existing lights. Simply changing the fixture or adding an outdoor ceiling fan adds more style.
Seating is another consideration. Light and easy to carry upstairs is always good. The new plastic Adirondack chairs come in lots of bright colors and are budget friendly. Don’t forget about a small table or stand to set your drink or book on. If you’ve spent time styling your new space, you should be factored in. More room? Try chaise lounges or all-weather wicker. Whatever you choose make it comfortable.
If you have water on your balcony you’re lucky. It’s easy to set up a drip system on a battery-operated timer to keep your plants happy. An electrical outlet will allow for a small fountain or outdoor lights. Check out your local home improvement store for a great selection of string lights in all kinds of styles. If you have enough sun to support solar lights, you won’t even need electricity. There are even small solar table lamps to brighten your space.
Most balcony floors are really boring and big dirt catchers. An easy improvement is to add an outdoor carpet. Depending on your space, you may need a narrow runner or a large area rug. I have used inexpensive rugs as well as higher priced ones, and they’re both great. First of all, they feel good under your feet.
Stay Away From Boring
Secondly, they can be easily vacuumed. Even in the winter when it rains, they dry fairly well and can be taken downstairs occasionally for a good cleaning with the hose and some bleach. If you want to spend a little more, teak deck squares look great and are very long lasting. They are virtually carefree needing little more than a squirt and a brushing once in a while as they age to a beautiful silver grey.
Succulents are great perfect for a balcony. They come in thousands of varieties and usually need little water and will tolerate dry balcony conditions. Roses in large containers as well as miniature roses do well on balconies if you are a gardening type who wants to feed and battle insects. If your balcony is near your kitchen, herbs in good-sized pots are another option. Parsley, rosemary, thyme and basil (in the summer) will all do well.
Baskets or troughs hooked over the railing give you the opportunity to plant more without sacrificing floor space. Herbs do well in these because you don’t have to bend over to harvest for cooking.
If you have traveled to Mediterranean regions, you will remember big pots of geraniums. They are easy and provide showy displays. To keep them looking good, deadheading,regular fertilizing and regular water will make them shine. In the late summer, geraniums get a little worm that eats the flower buds. I have found that either a systemic fertilizer or spray does the trick. You just need to be on the look out for the little varmints.
Make it Inviting
Lastly, take a look at your space from inside your home. It should look inviting and provide a nice view. Then take a look from outside. Evaluate the placement of both plants and furniture. Too much stuff will result in a cluttered look from the street. Now get yourself a cup of tea or a nice glass of wine and sit down and enjoy your new space.