No Place for a Garden? There's Always the Balcony
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Increasing numbers of people are living in high-rises and it is no surprise that some children today have never really touched natural soil and couldn’t tell a beetle from a spider.
It is therefore perhaps a good idea to have a garden in their apartments. Having your own personal garden is possible even if you live in a condo, says Konzept Garden Home Deco Sdn Bhd director Eric Hong Khiam Ping.
“As the city grows over time, giving up some living space is unavoidable especially if you want something you can afford, yet is convenient for your daily life.
“Most of the time, the location, the facilities and affordability come first. The garden hardly seems significant to a homebuyer.
“But what we can’t deny is that green spaces are very important. It freshens your indoor air and calms your mind after a busy day.
“This is why we decided to have a balcony landscape business a few years ago,” says the fourth generation of a landscape and garden business.
Beginning as a rubber tree latex collection cup producer in the early days, Konzept Garden is now a one-stop gardening centre that provides gardening products and services to local and overseas markets.
About five years ago, Hong decided to diversify into balcony landscaping.
“More high-rise residences will come up in the future, so it is a promising market and we are here to answer the concerns of anyone who wants to have a balcony garden at home including questions on affordability, maintenance and space limitations,” Hong notes.
Today, there are specially designed landscape products for balcony gardens such as pots that could eliminate the problem of over-watering while maintaining adequate soil moisture level for up to two weeks and a 2-in-1 garden-cum-fish pond where the plants and stones could help filter the water of a mini koi pond, just to name a few.
For most people however, a balcony garden sounds more like a hassle than something they would appreciate.
Below are some common myths about having a balcony garden which Hong is out to dispel.
Myth #1: Dirty and messy
There are people who want to have a green natural small garden on the balcony but they were deterred by the thought of dirt and soil on the floor and insects in the garden.
“It is not entirely true. You can choose the right pot and plant that do not need constant maintenance or replanting. You have to know what to plant and how to plant, so better to seek professional advice,” says Hong.
Myth #2: Costs a fortune
“Plants, pots and artificial grass are very affordable and come in many choices. For the water feature, if all you want is just the sound of water flowing then fish is not necessary, which means you can save on the water filter and other settings,” he says, citing a balcony garden package that comes inclusive of noble grass, plants and water feature for a standard size balcony that costs about RM2,000.
He adds that most of these items are a one-time cost only. “The long-term maintenance is minimal such as fertiliser and chlorine for the water feature to prevent mosquitoes and moss.
Myth #3: It will not last
Hong says that a beautiful and long-lasting garden not only requires the right items, equipment and plants, its routine maintenance is also a factor.
“Trimming, removing dead leaves and fertilising are something that you yourself have to do. No hardware can do that for you. To have a garden, the owner should enjoy the routine maintenance. It may not be every day. Perhaps once a week or so. After all, nothing lasts forever without effort!”
Myth #4: Too much trouble to maintain
“Nothing comes without effort. [The myth is that] it can only be done if you hire a professional gardener,” he quips.
He adds that daily maintenance could take less than 10 minutes to water the plants and to pick a dry leaf or two while checking on the condition of the plants.
Myth #5: My balcony is way too small
To Hong, no balcony is too small for a garden. “Any space can be personalised. A landscape designer can come up with a suitable design if you can’t do it yourself,” he notes.
He shares a typical design of a 4 ft by 10 ft rectangle balcony that was turned into a balcony garden by planting vertically on one side of the wall while a small pathway is created with stone pebbles leading towards a double-layer water feature at the other end of the wall.