Don’t let the size of your balcony fool you — it’s possible to have a balcony garden even in the smallest of places! We got Anita Lim, a landscape designer from Water Concepts & Consultancy, to teach us how to get a simple and fuss-free balcony garden.

Watch the 2-minute tutorial here:


Or go through an in-depth list of instructions here:

Anita designs outdoors spaces for a living, turning them into functional and stylish places. She was even invited to design a balcony garden for Singapore Garden Festival 2016 (happening 23 – 31 July 2016) so you’re in good hands! 

Anita Lim from Water Concepts & Consultancy

For this look, you’ll need:

  • A (or part of) a balcony space
  • Plants, of course! (Read: Where to buy plants for the home)
  • Tiered shelves
  • Ladder cum shelf 
  • Standing and hanging pots
  • Artificial grass carpet
  • Terrariums 
  • Recycled tree stumps or crates
  • Foldable chair and table 

Step #1: Decide on your theme and budget

This is pretty self-explanatory. Decide on a theme and stick to it, so you won’t spend unnecessarily on things you don’t need. In this tutorial, Anita has decided to go for modern rustic look, using portable items. On a budget? Portable items will probably save you some money, as compared to built-in ponds and gardens.

The Rasta plant. For the tutorial, we hung the pot on an existing hook, but Anita recommends drilling hooks into the ceiling so that the plant receives sunlight from all directions.

Step #2: Pick the right plants

Some plants require shade, whereas others thrive in direct sunlight. With this information, you’ll know what plants to buy, where to place them, and how often or how much to water them. Anita recommends these plants, for the moderate to extremely busy homeowners:

  1. Succulents like Elephant Bush and Jade Plants. They prefer bright light, and will require good soil with good drainage. Water Elephant Bush once a week, and Jade plant only when top of its soil is dry.
  2. Adiantum peruvianum ferns: Give them partial to full shade, and do not expose to full sun. It prefers moist but well-drained soil. Water occasionally, before top of soil dries out.
  3. Asplenium nidus (Bird’s Nest Fern): Exposing it to full sun causes scorching of leaves or lightening of the colour of the fronds, so place it where there is bright yet indirect sunlight. Ferns like moist soil (but not waterlogged). To prevent it from rotting, water around the edge and not the center of the plant.
  4. Climber plants like Philodendron Scandens (aka Sweetheart Plant): Give them moderate to bright light, and do not expose to full sun. Over-watering will cause yellowing leaves, so water until it drains — and only when soil begins to dry out.
  5. Aeschynanthus ‘Rasta’ (aka Lipstick Plant): It requires a few hours of sunlight a day, but do not expose to full sun. Water two to three times a week by thoroughly wetting the soil and allowing it the top soil to dry out properly.
  6. Cactus: It requires bright light and a wall-drained soil. Water only once a week.

Remember: Most plants cannot tolerate a waterlogged situation as the roots will rot. There is no exact number of days as to when to water the plants, as it depends on how much sun it gets or how fast it dries out — just don’t overwater them!

(Read: 14 plants that are alternatives to air purifiers)
(Read: Tips on getting good soil)

One way to create “layering” is to let the wisps of another plant frame shorter, potted plants.

Step #3: Know how to show off these plants

Anita picked these common houseplants for two reasons: 1) because they are easy to maintain, and 2) they are a good mix of texture and form – some are stiff, whereas others are wispy or trailing.

The trick for indoor landscaping, where there will be little to no pruning, is to create a layered look. “For plants that are too short to become a feature plant, achieve it by placing it in a nice tall pot,” she says.

“And to create a nice landscaped corner without it being overwhelming, you can team a tall pot with two others of shorter height; varying diameters also help create a visual balance.”

Collect tree stumps or crates, to give the garden a rustic look. Don’t forget to accessorise!

(Read: Dealing with common houseplant problems)

Step #4: Pick stylish but useful accessories

Anita wanted a vibrant modern rustic space, so she picked some bright-hued accessories that will stand out. For instance, a tiered pastel green shelf from Hipvan throws in a different shade of green in the mix – plus, it makes use of vertical space. You can have more things, without taking up too much floor space.

She also picked a bright yellow watering can (which you can also use as a makeshift pot for dried flowers!) and pink scissors.

Anita also played with texture. She collected unused tree stumps – collected from the friendly neighbourhood construction workers – to create a layered display corner, re-potted her plants into terracotta clay pots, and chose a bamboo ladder to hang some plants and tools.

(Read: 13 balcony designs you’ll love)

Enjoy the view from this simple and fuss-free garden!

The tools you’ll need in a balcony garden include:

  • Soil scooper
  • Spray bottle
  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Watering can