The Ultimate Small Garden Ideas for your Balcony or Courtyard

Australian backyards aren’t as big as they used to be and with couples and families moving into apartments, townhouses and terrace homes, having a courtyard or balcony garden as your outdoor space has become the new normal.  

 Crepe Mertyl

Add depth to your small garden

Serving as your entertainment area, a balcony or courtyard garden can look impressive when healthy plants in a range of colours and varieties are introduced into the space. By adding plants at different heights, such as hanging pots or installing a vertical garden, you can create a private area with depth and character to the space  

Design your space to your liking; whether you keep to a colour or plant theme, find plants that suit your style and maintenance capacity. When it comes to courtyard garden ideas, it’s best to have a plan as the seasons pass so your garden can flourish all year round – think about whether you want colourful splashes during the warmer months and different shades of green for a visual texture in any season.  


Bring it together with a feature

Adding a feature to your balcony garden will create a unique focal point in the space. Why not try adding a dwarf variety of fruit tree or a splash of colour with a lemon or lime tree, whichever works best in your climate. These can be kept in pots, as well as slow growing or smaller tree varieties for minimal pruning - low maintenance is key!  

The great thing about special deciduous trees like the Maple is you can choose the stem colour, leaf colour and form that best suits your style and garden size. If you’re wanting a flowering tree small evergreens like the Crepe Myrtle often have pink or white flowers, or if attracting birds is your desire look for small varieties of bottle brush.  


Embrace different shapes, heights and sizes

Why not try plants that can be clipped into spheres or shapes to add a sense of diversity in your garden such as Rosemary, Westringia and Buxus (box) varieties. For long, strong plants that have architectural flare, take a look at woody pink Cordylines, elegant Dracaena or desert style Xanthorrhoea (grass trees). If you’re into a round, glossy leaf, the Philodendron is a gorgeous feature plant that thrives in many locations and will suit a range of spaces.  


How to keep your outdoor plants alive and thriving

The last thing you want is to design and create your gorgeous courtyard garden only to have your plants die in a few month’s time. Here’s a few small garden ideas that will give your plants the best chance to thrive:


  • If your balcony garden sees little direct sunlight, flowering plants may not be the best idea as without light they might not flower. Instead opt for palms, ferns and impatient flowers that love the shade. Try filling a trough with a variety of herbs and vegetables for delicious salads.
  • If your courtyard garden is a windy spot, try sturdy leaf plants such as Cordylines with lovely striped leaves. Succulents are quite robust and will do well just about anywhere, as well as Aeoniums (tree houseleek) and Agave which easily cultivate.
  • If your small garden gets quite hot, Bougainvillea in dwarf varieties are tough and come in a range of beautiful colours. Be wary that they can take over the space if they grow too well; if you’re worried, start with Pelargonium or Geranium that also offers a pop of colour.
  • If there‘s an overhang from above, the plants will need regular water; make life easy and use self-watering troughs and pots or use Pope’s Deluxe Hand Wand, ideal for those hard to reach places and hanging pots.
  • Cyclamen have been trending as gifts, so if you receive one you can keep it thriving each year; simply keep it dry in shade over the hotter months and during late summer re-pot it when flowering is finished to give it some sun. Take note in winter you can add an extra layer of mulch to protect it from harsh temperatures.


It’s important to remember potted plants require regular feeding and watering during dry, hot periods, so keep your small garden plants well-watered but avoid water logging if it’s forecast for heavy rains. To help minimise evaporation, a mulch of bark or river stones can help your plants in the heat. Regularly fertilise and prune your small garden plants to keep your courtyard and balcony garden fresh and flourishing all year round. Pope offer a range of useful products for balconies and small garden areas, from Tap Adaptors that connect to your inside tap to Patio Hose Sets and Spiral Hose with Spray Gun. We believe everyone should have a green space to enjoy no matter the size.