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A month ago, my balcony was a no-go zone – my housemates and I hadn’t been out there for so long, pigeons had made it their home.

Desperate to enjoy any precious glimmers of sunshine the British summer gives us, we set about reclaiming it.

Now, a lot of shouting, arm waving, pigeon deterrents and an evening of bird later, we spend our evenings alfresco – eating dinner and drinking wine on our sparkling new balcony.

And the best bit is, we did it on less than £150.

Deciding on a look

We went for a kitschy country decor and bought everything with that style in mind, going for a bright blue table and a lemon and lime barbecue bucket teamed with terracotta and beige plant pots.

Nadia Smith, 26, a manager at Barclays from Clapham, took inspiration for her terrace (above) from the sleek gardens she saw while in California.

Choosing a style is crucial – it pulls everything together to make the space look like an extra room in your house or flat.

Tackling nature

Pesky pigeons are a big problem in London. I found a vibrating line called Growing Success Bird Repellent (£6.49), which makes a noise birds don’t like but humans can’t hear, and haven’t seen or heard a flap from them since.

Get all your creature-scaring paraphernalia from good garden centres or buy from gardencentre.co.uk.

And when you’ve got rid of the nature you don’t want, bring some that you do want in. For flowers, plants, herbs and pots pick up bargains at markets – like the one that happens every Sunday in Columbia Road, Shoreditch.

Sara Jane Rothwell, an expert in city gardens who runs London Garden Designer, says: “Drought-tolerant plants are key because everything dries up twice as fast on a roof terrace – plant the more Mediterranean plants like lavenders and grasses. Tree-wise I’d say olive or silver birch trees are pretty good.”

Decorating

B&Q and Homebase are great for buying paints for sprucing up outdoor walls.

What you do will also depend on your view.

“Quite often roof terraces tend to be near railways. That’s something you need to consider. I often use bamboo plants, for two reasons: because of the screening effect visually and it makes quite a nice rustling sound in the wind,” Rothwell says.

Nadia Smith picked up the faux grass for her roof terrace at Lazylawn.co.uk. Prices start from £15.50 per square metre.

Getting furniture

What’s summer without a barbie? It’s boring. So get a portable barbecue that won’t take up too much precious outdoor space. Amazon.co.uk sells some cheap BBQ buckets like the lemon and lime print one (pictured left) for £24.99.

The summer sales are on now, so try department stores such as Marks & Spencer (marksandspencer.com) or Argos (argos.co.uk) for some good deals. I found a blue table and chair set  for £57.25
from the Debenhams sale (debenhams.com).

Final touches

No outdoor city space is complete without fairy lights. Get a multi-coloured butterfly style from Amazon.co.uk; a solar-powered panel for £4.49; or splash out on some solar-powered white net lights, £17.99, to drape over a bush or fix on a wall.

Dunelm Mill (dunelm-mill.com) sell some dirt-cheap candles, cushions and lanterns.


WORDS: CLAIRE VOOGHT


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London outdoor living: cheap ways to improve your balcony
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