It is not difficult to create a natural garden on the balcony, even for beginners. First aspects to consider are the temperature and light conditions. You might see the sun only for a half day on the balcony, like I do or perhaps it´s constantly shady there. The trick is to find suitable, preferably native plants or seeds. If the balcony is on the sunny side it might mean that the concrete walls warm up and hold the heat for a while meaning that the growing season can start earlier and last slightly longer.
Popular ornamental flowers geraniums (Pelargonium zonale) and other cultured double-flowered plants don´t offer much nourishment to bees, hoverflies and other pollinators because insects can´t access the nectaries of flowers .
If you´d like to see more vibrant diversity of plants & local fauna in our concrete jungles and give something back to nature then the native plants are the best solution.
I don´t consider myself a lazy gardener but I do like when I can leave the plants alone for sometime without worrying too much about their existence. I started gathering seeds of wild local species couple of years ago and now there are around 60 species plants growing on the small balcony. I should reduce them somehow as soon there will be no space for walking. I´ve seen balconies where there are trees growing but I don´t know if it is really fare as trees grow big and what will you do if they can´t be planted anywhere?
Not all of the plants on the balcony are local but the majority are offering perfect nourishment for wild bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Local plants are adapted to climate here and need less water too, which I´m happy about as we use mostly collected rainwater for them. During the summer there are couple of weeks when it runs out as it´s too hot outside and it is necessary to use tap water, which is quite suitable for plants here. At least in this town they don´t add chlorine as far as I know into the water.
I don´t really think that it´s necessary to buy tons of bird feed for winter. Especially if the winters are mild and the temperatures rarely drop under 0°C. I rather don´t cut the plants back and leave the seeds for birds to eat whenever they fancy.
Since there are plants there are birds too who occasionally come around or take some materials(moss) to build their nests. I expected that only sparrows, doves and crows would come around but in fact urban diversity can be more than just them. I´ve seen robins, goldfinch and different species of titmice. It is nice to see that nature comes that close even though I live in a large town. Last summer during warm and sunny days there were sometimes 40 bees collecting nectar on flowers at the same time. And I was very surprised to see butterflies flying that high up as 4th floor.
The river´s main point was to block the noises from the street and listen to calming sound of water rather than car engines and shouting neighbours. It does work! The water bump runs on two solar panels and uses an old battery. We don´t let the river run 24/7 but it is better to let it work at least 20-30 min a day to keep the water in the tank oxygenated. During the cold season (nov.-march) we don´t use it as the water reservoir would freeze over.
I hope it is going to continue to be a oases for flora and fauna here and that all of us will fell happy there. I don´t want to feel that I have to do hard work there feel as if it is a duty.