Go green with a gardenless garden

It’s proven that mental and physical wellbeing can be greatly enhanced by spending time outdoors in green spaces. For those of us who have our own garden space to enjoy, there’s no better feeling than stepping out into your own peaceful oasis.

Not everyone, however, has this luxury. With about one in 10 households in Australia having no access to a private or shared garden, it’s time to get a little creative. Here we show the possibilities for gardenless gardens with six reimagined spaces outside and inside city homes. We’ve even got some tips to get the look and those essential plants to make it a reality.

Cities across Australia have seen a significant increase in urban sprawl over the past decade. So with backyards shrinking and inner-city temperatures rising, could plants be the answer? Global metropolises such as Singapore and New York are embracing sky gardens, but you don’t need to own a rooftop space or pay a premium to enjoy a green oasis of your own.

With 533k Instagram posts and more than 10,000 average monthly searches in Australia, #balconygarden is a trend that’s here to stay. Knowing where to start and how to create a cohesive overall space that matches up to our dream Pinterest boards can seem like a daunting task.

The experts at Love the Garden have taken typical small spaces in the home, such as a windowsill or apartment balcony, and reimagined them in six on-trend interior design themes including a ‘nomadic sanctuary’ and ‘wildlife oasis’. Each detail how the look was created and which plants to buy to recreate the look for yourself.

Ways with wood
If you have an outside space that already features wood, you’re halfway there as there are so many elements in the garden where timber can be included, by using some clever design. With just a few touches and a little creativity, a basic but functional outdoor space can be transformed into somewhere to relax and entertain with a natural feel.

How to get the look: use wood to create striking visual features that also enhance the functionality of your space. Importantly, complement the natural feel and look of the wood with other natural materials and, of course, plenty of greenery.

Which plants to use
Complement your timber by offsetting it against:

  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • sage
  • basil and coriander
  • bay laurel
  • Boston fern.

The minimalist retreat
Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. This minimalist retreat uses a sleek and simple design to make a feature of empty space. Nothing feels bare. In fact, the space offers a calming, peaceful and tranquil environment. Bliss!

How to get the look: if you’re trying to recreate this look on your balcony, opt for bold and minimalist plants. These should be your standout feature, and nothing should be overcrowded. When considering the colour palette, this look is all about greys and whites as the predominant colour. Think calming, simple and stylish.

Which plants to use
Strip things back and keep it simple with:

  • Japanese maple
  • heavenly bamboo or nandina
  • a feature bonsai
  • cordyline
  • cycad (Cycas revoluta).

The nomadic sanctuary
Whether meditation is your thing, you simply want to evoke past memories of far flung travel or you are dreaming of your next adventure, you can reimagine your inner-city balcony to be anywhere in the world.

With a few simple design elements, the right accessories and, of course, the right plants, you could be in Southeast Asia, South America, India or wherever your imagination takes you.

This eclectic colourful space is inspired by global travel and evokes the warmth and colour of a real-life tropical retreat.

How to get the look: key to this look and to create this gardenless garden is the use of colour – and lots of it. Think terracotta pots, pops of brightness on your soft furnishings (the more the better) and white lanterns. Include these main features but always make it your own with a few colourful plants too.

Which plants to use
Create your very own sanctuary by using:

  • New Guinea impatiens
  • Kentia palm
  • barrel cactus
  • ixora
  • mini bougainvillea
  • hoya in shades of red and pink.

The wildlife oasis
The best gardens are those teeming with plant and animal life. Yes, it is possible to create a wildlife oasis up high overlooking a cityscape. Here we’ve got a range of green and lush leaves and a selection of flowering plants mixed in with the greenery to act as an oasis for bees, butterflies and birds.

How to get the look: to create a wildlife oasis at home, you’ll need lots of nectar-bearing plants. Make sure you have a good mix of flowering plants as well as small shrubs and trees to provide cover. This should feel less styled than some of the other designs. The centre stage must be reserved for the plants and foliage.

Which plants to use
Attract the right wildlife with a mix of the following:

  • star jasmine
  • lavender
  • bay tree
  • hydrangea
  • salvia
  • banksia ‘birthday candles’
  • grevillea ‘superb’
  • rock lily (Dendrobium speciosum).

Bring the outdoors in
Where there’s no balcony or veranda to revamp into a beautiful outdoor sanctuary, a gardenless garden is always possible by bringing the outdoors in.

Here we’ve brought to life an indoor area and complemented the existing natural light with a good selection of indoor plants that bring the outdoor feeling inside. With a few well-chosen accessories it quickly becomes an inviting and calming space.

How to get the look: lots of plants are essential for this look. Hanging baskets are a great space-saving option, while larger plants that offer plenty of greenery help with the feeling of transitioning from inside to out. By using different surfaces and textures you can easily create something that has a similar feeling to a balcony.

Which plants to use
Create the outdoors in look with a selection of the following plants:

  • snake plant
  • cast iron plant
  • Boston fern
  • philodendron
  • jade plant
  • pothos
  • peace lily
  • succulents
  • dracaena
  • aloe vera
  • spider plant.

The living wall
Most of us are familiar with a feature wall in houses. This usually involves brick or stonework, brightly coloured paint or a quirky wallpaper. Have you ever considered taking the same approach indoors or on a balcony but using plants instead? Here we illustrate what’s possible with the right choice of greenery.

A standout living wall can make a stunning feature out of what would otherwise be unused space.

How to get the look: to get this look and ensure your living wall really stands out, it should be the centrepiece of the space, immediately drawing the eye. The rest of the area should be simply designed so the feature stands out. Don’t go over the top – opt for one striking wall to really make a statement.

Which plants to use
Choose from the following to recreate the look:

  • soft leaf ferns
  • bromeliads including air plants (Tillandsia)
  • ivy-leaf geranium
  • calathea
  • maidenhair fern
  • rex begonias
  • hosta
  • hoya
  • baby’s tears or helxine
  • succulents
  • philodendron.

How much space do you have to incorporate greenery into your home? Are you interested in creating a balcony garden?

– With Love The Garden

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