1. The right furniture is a must!
DO: Lay the foundations!
What do you need to get that summer feeling on your balcony? A cosy place. Before going to any DIY stores, garden centres or furniture stores, you should settle the most important questions: what should the balcony be used for? This saying should help with the decision-making process: “In the east, the sun will start the day, then go along the southern way, until it sets in west at night, in the north you’ll never see its light”. In other words, an east-facing balcony with its morning sunlight is perfect for a lavish breakfast and a south-facing balcony for sunbathing in the midday heat.
DON’T: Put a “normal couch” on the balcony!
Classically upholstered furniture often cannot withstand outdoor weather conditions. To stop upholstery from becoming musty, you should either use waterproof decorative cushions and pads or invest in a water-resistant cover for rainy days.
2. Imperative: consider the drop
DO: Decorate the balcony to your heart’s content!
Turn your balcony into an open-air paradise with flower tubs, fairy lights and other decorative objects. Don’t forget cushions and blankets! The balcony can be whipped into shape even on a tight budget. Here you will find a variety of DIY projects, such as lanterns in glass bottles (instructions in the lifestyle magazine – in German – so leb ich).
You can mount flower boxes on the inside of balcony parapet walls and railings or, if there are existing flower box supports, also on top of them.
DON’T: Disregard fall hazards!
Especially when it comes to balcony decorations. It is absolutely essential that you don’t endanger others! When decorating your own balcony, you must make sure that no objects can fall from the balcony. Any balcony decorations must also be able to withstand a storm à la Ciara. Always get the right DIN brackets and fastenings.
3. Sun protection – a must-have for south-facing balconies
DO: Create some shade with sun protection!
An apartment with a south-facing balcony is a real piece of luck for sun worshippers. But on hot sunny days, this goes hand-in-hand with the desire for some shade. Parasols and temporary shade sails provide some relief. If you are competent with needle and thread, you can make a DIY shade sail. Shower curtains, for example, are suitable for this because they can protect you from both the sun and rain – an all-weather solution!
DON’T: Disturb the building!
Just a small tip for anyone wanting to get started on their DIY shade sail: nothing is allowed to be attached to the building structure without getting the go ahead from your landlord. This also includes installing a canopy. It can also be a problem if permanently attached sun protection does not match the overall impression of the building. Therefore, there shouldn’t be green-striped, yellow-dotted and luminous-red canopies all together.
4. A summer tan from the balcony
DO: Take your beach holiday on the balcony!
There are three main things that people want from their summer holidays: to lie in the sun, eat ice cream and help themselves to cold drinks from their cool bag. To bring that beach feeling to your balcony, you can listen to the sound of the waves with headphones. Close your eyes and dream yourself away to distant countries. A big plus: the fridge and ice box are very close by.
DON’T: Forget your sun cream!
Whether in Berlin or elsewhere: burnt skin is not good. The motto is: always apply sun protection – just leave a bottle on the balcony.
5. The delicious alternative to beautiful plants
DO: Make it a snacking balcony!
Home-grown tomatoes and strawberries not only look beautiful, they are also easy to plant on the balcony. And when you snack on them, you can feel that special pride experienced by amateur gardeners. You can read more tips for your herb garden here: A herb garden on your windowsill.
DON’T: Be impatient!
It doesn’t help if, with a high level of motivation, you buy and pot plants and then don’t look after them properly afterwards. It takes time and the necessary knowledge for your snacking balcony to bloom. Which plants are suitable for which balcony? There are tips compiled in the garden lexicon (in German) for growing fruit and vegetables on your balcony. And another small tip for watering: neighbours on balconies below you probably don’t want a shower!
6. Invite animal friends for dinner
DO: Insect diner to go!
The right plants on the balcony will attract insects, such as bees and butterflies. Bees are happy with lavender and sage. Butterflies, on the other hand, love balconies with culinary herbs. They take the nectar from them. Nesting aids and places to drink also attract insects. Bowls with water should be filled with stones so that our animal friends are able to climb out again. The Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. (German Nature Conservation Association) has compiled more information for a lively balcony on its website.
DON’T: Feed bigger animals!
And even if animal visitors on our balcony make us happy, it doesn’t mean that all animals should be fed there. For example, feeding pigeons is not allowed in residential complexes.
DO: Invite people to a barbecue party!
Of course, there’s one topic that we cannot forget: the barbecue. As long as nothing says otherwise in your rental agreement, nothing stands in the way of a barbecue on the balcony. However, you can only use electric barbecues or aluminium trays that also catch fat.
DON’T: Ignore fire hazards!
Gewobag tenants are not permitted to operate fire barbecues, kilns, fire baskets and other open fires on balconies. There are two good reasons for this: firstly, the smoke can disturb neighbours and secondly, it is simply too dangerous due to the fire hazard.
8. Try out new drinks
DO: Try out new recipes!
Drinks bring that holiday feeling to your balcony. Sip from a coconut like on the beach in Bali or prepare a Parisienne yourself that makes you dream of the French capital.
DON’T: Drink too much alcohol!
Go without alcohol with a delicious mocktail, the little sibling of the classic cocktail. For example, a classic cucumber cooler is perfect for a hot summer’s day. What to do: mix 700 ml coconut water, 1/2 sliced cucumber, 50 ml lime juice and sweetener as required, refrigerate and enjoy with fresh mint leaves and ice cubes.
9. Here’s to good neighbours
DO: Shout “How are you?” over the parapet!
It’s a big city phenomenon that many Berliners know only too well: Do any of us really know our neighbours? In everyday life, we often hardly ever meet the people who live in our immediate vicinity. A little chat over the balcony railing or the parapet can remedy this!
DON’T: Be inconsiderate!
There it is again, the word “consideration”: a recurring theme through our summer balcony tips. Rest periods apply here as well. After all, neighbours are also on their well-earned mini break. And even though your own taste in music is, of course, the best, the rest of the building might not share this opinion. Therefore: turn down your music!
10. Digital detox
DO: Just turn it off!
Balconies with no mobile phone reception bring you even closer to that beach feeling. What may seem annoying at first, because you can’t send any nice holiday pictures, often contributes to your relaxation. Simply bring this kind of relaxation onto the balcony: switch off your phone and laptop and leave them inside.
We won’t finish with a DON’T. No matter where we spend our holidays this year, we should enjoy it and use the free time in the best possible way.
We are interested in how beautiful you can make your very own personal balcony moment. Do you fancy taking part in our big balcony competition?
Titel-Photo © Robert Kneschke / adobe