Growing a grass bed for a balcony presents some unique challenges. While fake grass might seem like the easier option, real grass is almost always a better choice.
If you want to know how to grow grass on a balcony, you’re in the right place. We’ll cover some important considerations before offering a couple of different methods for growing balcony grass.
Benefits of Real Grass on a Balcony
The biggest benefit of real grass over fake is heat absorption. Artificial grass can reach up to twice the temperature of real grass in direct sun. If you’re growing balcony grass for kids or pets, this is an important difference.
Plus, where possible, it’s always best to choose a natural product. Grass, for example, supports a wide range of insects and plants. While you might not be able to grow a full flower meadow, a grass bed on a balcony certainly helps local wildlife.
Uses for Balcony Grass
So, what might you use real grass for on a balcony? Here are some suggestions:
- Area for cats or dogs (somewhere to do their business or relax).
- Kids’ play area (ideally not used alongside option 1).
- Balcony oasis.
- Adding to the overall look.
Considerations Before Choosing Grass for Your Balcony
Like any other design choice, it’s worth thinking about the bigger picture before setting up a grass bed for your balcony. Check out our article on artificial grass for tips on why it might be the better option.
But, if you’re convinced real grass is the way forward, it’s worth thinking about these things first:
Grass grows. This means you’ll need to trim it, sometimes as much as once a week in the summer. For a balcony, you probably won’t need a mower, so opt for a strimmer instead.
Regardless of what mowing tool you use, grass requires regular upkeep. You might need to reseed it, and you’ll definitely need to water it in drier climates.
Grass is one of the most resilient plants on the planet. It can grow almost anywhere and is very drought resistant.
But, growing a grass bed for your balcony has restrictions. You can’t provide the normal soil depth grass needs to withstand drought, so you’ll need to water it properly to compensate.
You’ll also need to provide good drainage. Grass can tolerate being wet but will rot if its roots stay soggy for too long.
There are types of grass available for different weather conditions. Decide if your balcony gets full sun or shade, and that should be enough for you to narrow down your options.
If you want to grow balcony grass, you need to think about the long-term impact it could have. Don’t grow it directly on a wood floor (or tiles) and think twice about growing it on concrete.
Concrete breaks down over time, and grass roots will only speed up this process. Your best options are to grow grass in massive containers or to lay polyethylene sheeting underneath.
Also, grass and the necessary soil will add lots of extra weight to your balcony. Check its maximum weight allowance before going any further. A small roll of sod can weigh up to 30lbs.
It’s unlikely that your HOA will list anything about growing balcony grass. But, check if there are rules about invasive plants or damaging the balcony’s structure, as these could easily apply to grass.
If you’re unsure, check with someone in charge or simply grow it in containers.
How to Grow Grass on a Balcony
Now that we’ve covered the most important considerations, we can look at how to grow grass on a balcony. Below are 2 options: one for seed and the other for sod.
They need the same materials, so here’s a general list:
- Grass (grass seeds or sod)
- Large container (such as a sandbox with floor), or Weed barrier fabric
- Fertilizer (note: if growing from seed, some products will come with fertilizer included)
- Watering can or hose
Growing Grass from Seed
This is the longer method because you must wait for the seeds to germinate and grow. However, grass is a fast-growing plant, so it shouldn’t take too long.
1. Clean the balcony
It’s always worth cleaning the area before you start any work. Sweep up leaves and debris and clear an area for the sheet or container.
2. Lay sheet or build container
You then need to lay the groundsheet or build your container. A container is possibly the easier option because it keeps everything contained and means you can move your lawn if necessary.
If using something like a sandbox, drill some drainage holes in it.
3. Add gravel
Sprinkle around half an inch of gravel in the container to help with drainage.
4. Add soil
Grass needs up to 10 inches of soil to grow. Of course, you can’t really give your balcony grass that much, so simply fill your container almost to the top. More soil is better, and never give it less than 3 inches.
5. Plant seeds
Sprinkle seeds on the soil as per the package’s instructions. You should press them lightly into the soil, mist with water, and then mist every other day.
After a week or so, the grass should have sprouted. Once it’s about an inch high you can start watering as normal.
Laying Sod on a Balcony
Using sod (rolls of grass) is a much easier option and gives you a lawn in less time. To grow a grass bed for your balcony using sod, do the following:
1. Adding container and soil
First, follow the instructions above up to step 4. Sod needs less soil than seeds, so add an inch or two. It’ll depend on the sod’s thickness, as the grass should sit no higher than the top of the container.
2. Lay sod
You should lay sod in the longest direction, cutting strips as needed. Water it thoroughly and give it a week or so to settle. You can then water and mow as needed.
So, now you know how to grow grass on a balcony. While you’ll never have a full lawn, a portable container of balcony grass can make a great addition to your space. Just don’t forget to trim it!