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Make the most of your outside rental space in London

3 October 2017 Simon Banks Read time: 4 min
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Simon Banks

Ask most people what the contents of their property wish list is, and you can safely assume that ‘outside space’ pops up nine times out of ten. Even in London - where flats dominate the rental property scene - most renters crave some form of external area.

We all like to have an area outside where we can get some fresh air - whether it’s access to a private garden, communal gardens, or even a balcony. Unfortunately, not all outside space is the same. While some properties have access to extensive gardens, others need to make do with a small balcony.

Fear not, though, as this post will help you make the most of your external space. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a large garden or a tiny balcony. We’ll help you maximise your outside area so it feels like you have access to your own little oasis, even if it’s on your balcony.

Get planting


Balcony with flowers Photo credit: www.londonplanters.co.uk


Most renters in the capital have to settle for outside space in the form of a balcony or terrace, due to a large number of apartments in London. Just because you don’t have a garden doesn’t mean that you’re unable to grow some plants, though.

Even if you find yourself on the fifth floor of a purpose-built block, or in the middle flat in a Victorian conversion, having your idyllic patch of plants is still a reality. You can scatter some along the floor or if you want to neaten it up, buy a large cachepot and group a few together.

There are loads of garden centres in London where you can find small plants. You can even head to everyone's favourites store, Ikea, and buy all the necessary equipment. Other big stores like Homebase and even Sainsbury's also stock a selection of small plants.  

Fake it ‘til you make it


Faux plants outside Photo credit: www.londonplanters.co.uk


With the winter months approaching, plants don’t grow like they do in the summer. But don’t worry, as you can always buy a few artificial plants to give your balcony a lively look - at least until the warmer months roll around.

These days it’s hard to tell the difference, so no need to worry about passers-by tut-tutting at your artificial plant. They’re more likely to think what a great balcony you have and you will be the envy of all your neighbours. Take that, neighbours!

Artificially intelligent


Balcony with artificial grass and plant pots Photo credit: www.bespokelawns.co.uk


Sticking with all things artificial, fake grass has risen in popularity over the years and acts as an excellent substitute for the real thing. Why not turn your concrete balcony into your own garden in the sky (with your landlord's permission, of course).

There are several benefits to artificial grass: it looks good all-year round, which is especially handy as we head into the colder months. You can even roll it up and take it with you when you move. There’s no need to worry about upkeep, either.

Your outside space might be too small to have a kick about on the artificial grass, but you will certainly enjoy the view from your new garden above the ground.

Enjoy the scenery
Table and chairs on a balcony

Sticking with views - add a couple of chairs and a table to your balcony. You’ve got the plants, possibly the artificial grass too, so enjoy your new surroundings by sitting back and relaxing.

Low snack tables are a favourite with balcony owners, as they fold up and are easy to put away. They’re also relatively cheap, and you can pick one up for around £25. Again, Ikea is your best friend for fairly-priced outside furniture.

No matter which pocket of London you live in, there’s a decent chance that you will have access to some pleasant views. Watch the [London] world go by as you take a seat in your outside oasis.

Be inspired
Display from RHS Chelsea Flower Show

There are several garden shows taking place throughout the year which afford the perfect opportunity to find ideas for your outside space, no matter its size. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are the big players for garden shows.  

Go big and attend the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the most prestigious plating experience there is. Other shows from RHS include the RHS Autumn Garden Show, which takes place in London on the 24th of October.

Get advice from the experts and discover the latest trends to make your balcony the envy of all your friends. Then tell them it was all your own idea.

Smoke and mirrors


Patio with table, chairs and a mirror Photo credit: www.houzz.co.uk


Maybe you’re lucky enough to have access to a garden, but it’s slightly on the small side. If that’s the case, mirrors are going to be your new best friend. Stick a mirror or two in the garden, either fixed (again, with the landlord’s permission) or freestanding and create the feeling of more space.

They also make the garden seem like it has sections. This is great for any outdoor get-togethers as your guests will feel like they have more space to chit-chat.

Embrace your inner chef


Tomatoes from an allotment on a balcony Photo credit: courgettes.wordpress.com


Who says gardens are just for, erm, gardening? Grow your own with an allotment of vegetables and fruit. The great thing about allotments is that you can have one even if you’ve only got a balcony.

Whether it’s a large allotment in your back garden or a mini one on your terrace, save money and grow your own. From tasty potatoes to juicy tomatoes, become a fruit and veg master and add some practicality to your outside area.

Add some colour


Colourful balcony with pattern design Photo credit: www.pinterest.co.uk/oandmmagazin/erkély


When in doubt, colour always adds vibrancy to any area - especially if it's against the backdrop of London’s often grey skies. From bright plant pots to a different colour furniture, make your garden, balcony or terrace feel alive as the plants that inhabit it.

Experimenting is the key here. Try mixing different colours to see what works and what doesn’t. Use different styles of furniture and items that don’t necessarily match general themes. Be funky and reflect the urban buzz of the capital in your outside space.  

All up in your [outside] space

With these tips, we’re sure that you can transform your outside space into your own little paradise. Whether you’re going for the traditional garden look or something slightly more cutting edge, you can add a new dimension to your rental property.

Do you have any more ideas about how to improve your outside space? We’d love to hear them. Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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Main photo credit: www.houzz.ie

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