Ask The Gardener

Consider the option of a green-wall to maximise green impact and reduce the clutter pots create.

Modern living in Ireland dictates that many of us will live in high-density urban situations, featuring balconies, terraces and communal rooftop open space. Here are some useful ways we can optimise this style of outdoor living.

Roof-top gardens and terraces

Many apartment developments feature communal open space, some with planters cast in-situ on the roof terrace. Where this has been executed properly, these loads have been considered carefully by engineers, and drainage from the planters has been linked into the roof drainage system.

If you are looking at developing an existing roof terrace, there are a few items that I would encourage you to consider.

First, the views. I know some people would consider the sun and where it falls but you can follow the sun across the terrace on your sun-lounger.

Ensure that no worthwhile view will be blocked off by your proposed planting. In some situations it may be a case of framing the view with planting.

Secondly, consider the local breeze and how you can protect the space from the wind. If your containers will allow it, screen hedging or bamboo can provide a great wind-break, in more coastal situations, timber or glass screening may be more suitable.

Apartment balconies

Apartment living provides owners with one of the most difficult challenges in landscape. They are charged with optimising a restricted space, without limiting light to the building, all the while keeping in mind loading weight and drainage considerations. This is without considering aspect and light provision for the benefit of plant growth or terrace user benefit.

Vertical gardens

What use is a sunny balcony if you can’t sit out and enjoy a coffee? With all the blank outdoor wall space in apartment situations, why not consider the option of a green-wall to maximise green impact, and reduce the clutter that pots create.

Modular green wall cells can be attached to a wall space, and planted with any variety of herbs or shrubs. Often a mix of grasses and ferns create a strong evergreen backbone to a plant selection, complimented with some garden herbs and seasonal bedding colour. See for more information on modular green wall solutions.


Irrigation is an essential requirement of any successful balcony or terrace garden. Where possible, a drip irrigation system based on a timer will be of huge benefit. Water should be harvested from downpipes and stored in water-butt containers.

These are a worthy investment for any communal garden considering the introduction of the dreaded water meters.

On a lighter note, don’t forget that water will drip from balcony to balcony, so don’t forget your ‘below-neighbours’ and what they might be experiencing from your garden terrace.

Feeding and soil nutrition

Unlike the soil in open gardens, planter soil requires special attention. Organic or chemical plant feeds will supplement the plants during growing season, while a good organic fertiliser or farmyard manure will replenish the soil and ensure it is healthy.

For further information on garden concepts and ideas you can contact The Pavilion Garden Centre by visiting, or via twitter @the_pavilion


March is the perfect time to take action when it comes to your lawn, writes Peter DowdallGrassroots campaign: Take action in your lawn

Robin Maharaj, director at Kilkenny Architectural Salvage and AntiquesRobin Maharaj: ‘If you take a longterm view you won’t go wrong’

Fond recollections of a legend, an industry titan comes to Cork, Grimes' new album impresses critics, and Cork French Film Festival announces its lineup, writes Des O'DriscollScene and Heard: ‘Fail we may, sail we must’

Irish Examiner arts editor Des O'Driscoll picks his top gigs from the weekend's event, at venues around Cork City.Right Here, Right Now: this weekend's highlights

More From The Irish Examiner