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Although many of us do not have a house with a garden, it is likely that almost everyone has a terrace or balcony where they can create a small green oasis.
To get the most out of the little space you have available, it is essential to carry out and follow a project, studying every detail.
In the execution of the project, 4 important points must be taken into account:
· Exposure: it is the first and most important of the elements to consider; in order to make a correct choice of the elements to be included in the project, it will be necessary, in fact, to determine whether the terrace is facing South, West, North or East;
· Water: an equally important factor especially for the terraces facing south, which during the hottest periods have to deal with high temperatures and sun exposure. In this regard we recall that a good irrigation system can facilitate and respond effectively to the problem;
· Access to the balcony: to allow greater privacy where there are window doors or windows.
· Load / capacity of the balcony or terrace to know exactly the weight the structure can bear.
Once these elements have been clarified we can proceed with the elaboration of the project.
First, draw a map of the balcony or terrace: mark the North with an arrow (point 1), with a circle the water point (point 2) and with the temples the accesses to the terrace (point 3). Proceed by inserting the tubs or planters in the drawing, which can be represented with small rectangles, being careful to respect the proportions. On the market there are tanks of standard sizes of 60/80/100/120 cm. Almost always there is a proportion between the dimensions of the tanks, or between their length, width and height; therefore, the most suitable planters, in terms of shape and size, must be chosen for their terrace. For the choice of tanks see the appropriate section.
Once drawn, the tanks will be numbered. In another sheet we will write the plants to be inserted, taking care to place evergreen and slightly taller plants in the tanks located at the entrances to the balcony / terrace.
In this regard it is good to remember that not all plants are suitable for being inserted in contexts such as terraces or balconies. Moreover, when we choose a plant, we must pay attention to its needs and to those of the plants located in the most immediate surroundings; therefore, we will select and arrange plants that need the same soil and the same amount of water inside the same tank.
In order not to have tanks that are too full, we advise you not to place more than 3 shrubs in large tanks (100, 120 cm) and 2 inside medium ones (80 cm). To limit maintenance interventions it is advisable to use slow-growing plants. The deciduous plants must always be placed near evergreen plants, so that the latter compensate for the absence of leaves in the winter period of the former. If possible, it is always advisable to choose plants with "scaled" blooms and to leave free spaces to insert annual plants.
Tanks to be filled
Tank filling is a very important operation. The plant, in fact, must remain in the same land for several years; for this reason it is recommended to use top quality materials. Before starting work it is necessary to distinguish the plants that will be placed in acid soil from those that, on the contrary, will require a normal soil; also check that the tank has drainage holes.
Proceed, covering the bottom of the tank with 3-4 cm of pumice stone or expanded clay, to prevent the earth from obstructing the holes in the tank; the expanded clay will also act as a water reservoir for the plant.
Once the bottom is formed, we will fill the tank with earth; this must be of the best possible quality since it cannot be changed every year, as is the case for annual plants.
At this point we will proceed by making a hole in which the plant will be placed; after inserting the plant, the hole must be filled with more soil. It is advisable to integrate the soil with a slow release fertilizer; this will ensure good nutrition for the plants.
Once the plants are planted, we will cover the soil with French-type pine bark, to prevent the soil from being exposed to the sun and cold and in such a way that it degrades more slowly. The bark will also contribute to decreasing the evaporation of water in the summer and keeping the earth more humid, performing a good insulating function. We also remind that the bark significantly reduces the growth of weeds that contribute to the absorption of water and mineral salts with the plants.
Plants on the terrace: Planters
The maintenance of the tanks on balconies and terraces requires a couple of interventions a year, that is the watering and grubbing up of weeds. It is advisable to intervene in the spring and autumn periods. More precisely, in spring, we will supply a slow release fertilizer, which will guarantee the nutrition of the plants for at least 4-6 months. The fertilizer must be specific for our plants and of good quality. It is also useful to "move" the soil to increase the ventilation of the plants, if necessary, integrate it with new soil and renew the bark, adding fresh fruit every year. Recall that the root system of potted plants is limited; for this reason it is a good rule not to miss our mineral salts and water.
In the autumn period, liquid potassium and phosphorus fertilizers must be administered to prepare the plants for the cold season. It is important to remember that evergreen plants work even in winter and therefore it will be necessary to continue to irrigate this kind of plants even during the cold months.