My balcony is boring in the winter. How can I liven it up?
December 10, 2011 4:26 PM   Subscribe

My balcony is boring in the winter. How can I liven it up?

We have a balcony of about 100 square feet that in the warm seasons we fill with container gardening and a hammock and a worm bin.
Now that it's grown too cold for those, we need to fill the space and make it look less bare. We'd like it to be something that will store well in the summer, so not evergreens.
Not interested in light shows, or tacky stuff. I'd still like to go out there for a drink / coco a few times a week.
When I look around, most people have a grill, Christmas lights, or nothing. What are some creative uses for the balcony that we could try?
South facing, in Chicago. Modestly high up. It doesn't accumulate snow.
posted by a robot made out of meat to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You need a Chimenea or some other kind of self-contained fire. Fire makes everything cozier. Even in the summer.

Some comfy seating would certainly help too. Something weatherproof and weighted so you don't have to worry about it blowing away in the wind.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:30 PM on December 10, 2011

Find some interesting dead branches and put them in pots. Decorate them with tiny lights. Hang wind chimes. Put out a bird feeder. Get some lanterns, candles in glasses. Grow salad greens and herbs in pots just inside the windows.
posted by mareli at 4:31 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Personally, I love grilling in the winter. It's fun to bundle up and then go throw some seafood and vegies on the grill and enjoy being outside. Also, we keep a steady regiment of white Christmas lights in personal spaces like this just to warm it up a little bit color wise.
posted by modoriculous at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2011

Response by poster: A little fire pit seems like fun, but I worry about smoke effecting the walls and ceiling / floor of next balcony. Not really an issue?

We're vegetarian and so don't really want a grill. I'm aware that one can grill some vegetables, but don't feel it's worth the effort.

We do get very strong winds, so lots of little things are probably not going to work.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:34 PM on December 10, 2011

I know you said no light shows, but I just got these hand-blown glass solar lights and they are very cool. They don't look like total cr@p in the daylight like a lot of other lights.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:04 PM on December 10, 2011

A nice patio heater would make it more comfortable. Seconding bird feeders. There are some really beautiful hummingbird feeders out there.
posted by bq at 7:05 PM on December 10, 2011

My arugula is still growing, even though we've had snow and freezing weather. You could probably grow kale in pots. If you get big pots, and maybe rig up a metal* or branch frame to cover with clear plastic, you could grow other greens. One winter, I stuck downed branches and sticks into big pots, then added fairy lights; it looked pretty nice for minimal effort. Target has nice Xmas lights, you could go for that street scene look. something sculptural would be really great.

*I use the metal frames from political signs left over after elections.

posted by theora55 at 7:47 PM on December 10, 2011

Strip lighting would be cool.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:08 PM on December 10, 2011

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