10 creative apartment garden ideas for your balcony or tiny patio

Calling all green thumbs🌱

Apartment garden with shelves
(Image credit: Future)

I’m truly dreaming about the day I’ve got an actual backyard to deck out — but for now, I’m making do with my small apartment balcony. It started off as a boring and beige rectangle, and I’ve spent the past year slowly turning it into the perfect space for hanging out and enjoying the sunshine.

Like the sound of transforming your tiny balcony or patio? Don’t worry, girl — I’ve got you covered! Whether you’ve got a tiny terrace, a cracked courtyard, or a basic balcony, I can promise that you’ll find plenty of ideas in this list for turning it into the cutest outdoor spot. 

Prepare to be inspired by some of Instagram and TikTok’s best balconies and patios, where you’ll find everything from hanging chairs and outdoor rugs to fake floor tiles and handy privacy screens. And best of all, DIY skills are absolutely not essential!

1) Use shelves and hanging planters where possible 

Outdoor balcony with shelves of plants

(Image credit: @ataleofhome)

When you’re short on spare floor space, it’s well worth looking for ways to make the most of any walls or fences. I love how @ataleofhome has used simple floating shelves to turn a blank wall on their balcony into a space to display their pretty plants. Plus, they’ve also hung plants from their railings — which is another great space-saving idea. 

2) Or stack herbs on a stylish ladder shelf 

White ladder shelves with potted plants

(Image credit: @summerhousestyle)

But if you’re a renter who’s not keen to use any nails, you can still maximize that vertical space with ladder shelves or tiered stands. There are loads of different styles, but for a rustic look, I’m really into this wooden one that @summerhousestyle has used to show off her herbs and gardening tools. Personally, I’m low-key obsessed with the idea of just filling a basic shelving unit with hanging plants, so it looks like a really boho living wall. 

3) String up lights that give off a gorgeous glow 

Outdoor patio with string lights and sofa

(Image credit: @lifewithleeanne)

I firmly believe that some good ambient lighting is pretty much all you need to turn a tiny outdoor space from cramped to cozy. Rather than small fairy lights, I’m all about using the same kind of bigger bulb lights that @lifewithleeanne has strung up in her outdoor seating area. If you’ve got a pergola or some kind of ceiling above you then that’s great — but if not, use trees, fences, or walls, and attach them with nails or self-adhesive outdoor clips. 

4) If you’ve got a balcony, attach a bar table to the railings 


♬ original sound - kornelia

Forget the bistro set — I’m all about the bar table if you’ve got a balcony. All you need is a couple of bar stools, and it’ll instantly become your new favorite spot for having a morning coffee, taking your work video calls, and even enjoying a cocktail in the evening. There are loads of different types available, and they’re typically designed to screw straight on to your railings. 

5) And use a bamboo screen to protect your privacy 

Boho apartment balcony with hanging plant

(Image credit: @a.riehl.home)

Our balcony overlooks quite a busy courtyard, so putting up a bamboo screen was legit the first thing my boyfriend and I did when we moved into our apartment. I love bamboo ones because they’re really easy to trim down to your desired size, they attach easily to railings with just cable ties, and I just think they look far cuter than those plastic screens. If you still need convincing, just take a look at this pic from @a.riehl.home — I’m obsessed with the whole boho aesthetic

6) Make the space seem bigger with an outdoor mirror 

Tall standing mirror in backyard

(Image credit: @redrowludlow)

I’m a big fan of using mirrors to make small patios, terraces, and balconies feel a little bit bigger. Plus, let’s be honest — they’re also just great for snapping cute al fresco selfies in the sunshine. If you want to hang it on a wall or fence, go for smaller options — but I personally love how @redrowludlow has picked this big paneled beauty, and leaned it against her fence. It just makes it even more of a feature of the space. 

7) Use clever tiles to cover up any ugly flooring 


♬ original sound - allierockk

Whether you’re dealing with boring balcony flooring, or cracks in your courtyard that are ruining the whole vibe, laying down some fake floor or decking tiles will instantly upgrade the look of the whole space. Choose from patterned porcelain, or simple and chic decking, and install them super easily by just clicking them together. There are so many different types available, so you’ll definitely find something in a style that suits you! 

8) Swing into summer on a hanging chair 

Boho apartment balcony with hammock

(Image credit: @holayasmin)

The perfect spot for getting cozy with a good book, hanging chairs have a piece of my heart. Plus, if you’ve got a balcony or terrace with some sort of ceiling above you, then they’re actually super easy to install. They come in loads of different styles, but I just think this simple fabric one that @holayasmin_ fits her whimsical and romantic outdoor space perfectly. 

9) Add an outdoor rug to make a courtyard more cozy 

Outdoor courtyard with yellow rug and sofa

(Image credit: @emeraldterrace)

With their four walls and stony flooring, courtyard patios can easily feel kind of prison-like. So, adding in some warmth with wooden materials, and plenty of soft furnishings. A splash of color is key if you want to turn it into a cozy and welcoming space. In my opinion, @emeraldterrace has absolutely nailed it — particularly in her choice of a bright and bold area rug, that really makes the courtyard feel like a homely outdoor living space. 

10) Turn wooden pallets into a DIY daybed  


♬ Eastside - benny blanco & Halsey & Khalid

Outdoor daybeds are ideal if you’re keen to mimic the beach club aesthetic — but they are generally so expensive. But if you can find a couple of free wooden pallets, and some plush cushions, you can create your own without blowing through too many precious bucks. I actually made a pallet sofa for my balcony last week — and used a drill to properly attach it together — but if you don’t have tools, you can just stack them on top of each other like this TikTok creator does, and it’ll still look fantastic. 

Freelance Writer