Balcony Gardens

Balcony Gardens: Fun Tips for Decorating your Balcony

While apartments have their advantages, one big downside is the detachment from nature.  As opposed to a house with a big green yard, apartments tend to feel closed off and small. The only gateway to the outside world often comes in the form of balconies.  Sitting out on your balcony, sipping a warm cup of tea (or coffee), and just watching the world go by is an undeniably therapeutic hobby. But often balcony spaces are underutilized. A common sight is a couple of old chairs, some pots with small plants, and heaps of refuse that we store for no real reason.

In recent years the concept of “handkerchief gardens” has blossomed (pun intended). What originally started as small, square garden spaces is now a term used to describe gardens in small spaces. So why not bring this concept to your balcony?

Landscaping small spaces can be a daunting task. Not only does it need to be space efficient, it also needs to fit your personal creative tastes. Here are some tips that can help set the wheel in motion.

Plan it well
As with any DIY project, the first step is planning. Having a clear idea of the space available is a must. Measure the area and create a plan for where you want to eventually place each item.

 

Clean it up
The next thing you need to do is clean up the balcony. Remove the clutter that has been lying around. Keep a lookout for cobwebs and dust bunnies that may have appeared in the unused space. Put up nails and hooks wherever you may need them. Remember to check the wiring and sockets that can be used. If you want to go the extra mile why not try hand painting the wall for extra flair?

Know your climate 
The primary requirement of any garden is, naturally, plants. While everyone loves the idea of exotic sweet-smelling flowers, we should remember that these plants need a lot of work. Look up plants that may be easier to grow in your locality. Also, check the direction of your balcony. This will have a direct effect on the amount of sunlight your plants will receive. Instead of flowers, consider growing herbs (like mint) that not only smell good but can be used in your kitchen.

Pots and pans 
A pot garden with the little mud pots is a common sight in most balconies. But why stop there? Almost anything can be reused as garden pots; bottles, old buckets, kettles, old cans, everything is fair game. To add a little variety you can also purchase hanging pots or hooked planters.

Stack it up
Balconies are usually small. In such small spaces, vertical gardens are usually a good idea. Old bookshelves, step ladders, tables and stools, all provide good surfaces to put your pots on. Do not be afraid to add variations in height. It is all part of the aesthetic.

 

 

Drape it down
Another dramatic addition you can make to your balcony garden is vines and creepers. If you want to add an aura of magic and fairy tales to your space, this is the way to go. Just remember, vines take a little extra effort to maintain.  Team it up with your vertical garden and it can make a striking impression.

 

Read more about the types of vines you can grow: https://www.houzz.in/ideabooks/98947783/list/8-climbing-plants-great-for-indian-balconies-and-gardens

 

Always accessorize
Gardens do not have to be limited to growing plants. Adding decor pieces that compliment your setup is always a good idea. Place random knick-knacks like figurines and windchimes. A popular addition you can install is a water feature. Small fountains and aquariums can add a bit more zing. You can also create a small bird bath. If you are lucky, the chirping of birds will be a great new feature of your new garden.

 

Let there be light 
Outdoor lighting can go a long way in building the aesthetic. Drape fairy lights along your walls or hang paper lanterns from the ceiling. This is usually cost-effective and easy to remove. However, if you want something permanent, buy new light fixtures for the space. Try to opt for warm lighting. It creates a more cosy ambience.

 

Keep it simple
One of the most effective ways of creating a low-maintenance garden is through terrariums. A terrarium is a glass container with a plant growing inside. It is a usually self-sustaining ecosystem. The evaporated water condenses on the surface of the glass and waters the plant over and over again. Once in place, it requires almost no help to grow. All you need to do is open up the container every so often to fertilize or trim your plants.

 

Seats for all
Do not forget to add some outdoor furniture to the mix. Your balcony could be used for anything from reading to meditation. Seats and throw cushions can help create a comfortable nook. Outdoor swings are an ever-popular choice in India. Choose quick dry foam cushions to avoid rain damage. Make sure whatever furniture you place outside is weather resistant or coated with oil paint.

 

A balcony garden is a very good place to relax and unwind after a long day. The sense of tranquillity that comes from being surrounded by foliage is unparalleled. Big or small, it has a proven effect on your mood and psychological well-being. In a life always on the move, everybody deserves a chance to stop and smell the flowers.

So pick your favourite ideas from this list and create your own handkerchief-sized masterpiece. Happy gardening!


Pets in Apartments: the Rights and Responsibilities of Pet Owners.

Many people love the idea of having a four-legged furball at home. They tend to have a therapeutic presence. Animal lovers will do anything for their furry friends. But others consider them a nuisance. Pet-related activities are disapproved of and even opposed. Often, people forget that other species on the planet also need a place to live. Sheltering a few homeless animals, newborn or aged, is not a bad idea.

The perpetual debate of whether pets must be allowed in apartment complexes, or not, has made us realise that there is a need for a clear understanding of the situation  (especially before we jump to conclusions about the rights and wrongs).

Authorities within residential areas often send out circulars that have rules and regulations about pet ownership. These circulars contain ‘vital’ information about whether or not they can be allowed to live with their human caretakers.  What people are unaware of is there is no law enacted by the Parliament, or any State Legislature, that bans animal friends. At most, you may have to register your pet (In many parts of the country you are legally required to register your pet). More often than not people end up having to choose between their home or their animal companion. This violates a fundamental right of being a citizen of this country. The right to make personal choices is protected by the constitution of India.

Following are the issues faced by pet owners:

  • Pets being banned on society premises on account of being noisy.
  • Prohibiting homeowners from using parks, lifts and other facilities if they are accompanied by pets. Also, being charged for the same.
  • Being charged ‘pet rent’.
  • Forced usage of muzzles (on calm pets).
  • Discrimination as per the size and breed of pets allowed in the housing society.
  • Being asked for a pet resume before being given the flat on rent (A pet resume contains the pet’s basic details, previous rental experience, health, behaviour, references, etc).

To make matters clear:

  • No bans can be imposed on usage of facilities (like lifts and parks) by pets.
  • RWAs cannot impose any extra charges for this, either.
  • Pets and resident owners of the pets not violating any Municipal Sanitary Bye-Laws or Regulations are permissible to stay in the society or community.
  • Size of pets cannot be a valid reason to ban them from society premises.

Such rules are highly discriminatory and might lead to friction among the members of the society. But, it must be kept in mind that these objections have risen due to certain behaviours of pet animals that have inconvenienced people in some way or another in the past.

As has always been, rights come with responsibilities. Pet owners must come forward and offer to adhere to simple, implicit rules and mannerisms.  This will eventually resolve the issues that lead to discriminatory circulars.

So, to make things fair:

  • The pet owners must make sure that there is no nuisance caused in the society due to their furry pals.
  • When out of the house and in the premises of the complex, the pets must be accompanied by their owners or anyone who has them under careful observation.
  • Since there is no central law regarding cleaning pet excreta, RWA can request pet owners to do the same.
  • Training must be provided to the pets in apartments on identifying people walking in and out of the apartment wing. This will help prevent them from getting provoked when neighbours and children are around.
  • The animals should be taken to an obedience class/training class as well. A certificate is generally provided once the animal recognises behaviour signals.
  • Crate/kennel training is another way of training the pet to stay in one place as it provides a feeling of security to the animal.
  • The pets must also be trained, through positive reinforcement, to not get aggressive around other animals and prevent matters from going downhill.
  • Pets must undergo regular vaccinations and medications required to stay healthy.
  • The owners should take responsibility for their pets.
  • Children and residents must be asked to not provoke or tease the animals.

In conclusion,  the society representatives and pet owners, must organise regular meetings and address the issues each party faces, and meet each other halfway. Non-pet owners must be sympathetic and flexible towards pets and their owners. The latter must take precautions to ensure that they and their furry friends continue to behave like responsible members of the community.


(The Governing Body in India Concerning Animal Welfare- The Animal Welfare Board of India, 1962, was the first of its kind to be set up in the world, by any Government. It was established as a part of the Ministry of Environments and Forests, Government of India, in accordance with Section 4 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (No.59 of 1960). It has a list of bye-laws for pets, and was created to advise the Government on matters concerning animal welfare and preventing the infliction of pain on animals.)

Read more here: https://awbi.org/awbi-pdf/pet_dog_circular_26_2_2015.pdf


Disclaimer: This information is offered as a public service. While we try to make it accurate as possible as on the date of publication, the laws change and more importantly the way we interpret laws could also change. We cannot promise that this information is always up-to-date and correct. We strongly recommend you to always consult appropriate professional advisers for your society to ensure compliance. We are not responsible for any actions or non-actions that are done by you based on the information present in this article or any other article on this blog.


Blood Moon 2018

Blood Moon Eclipse: 6 ways to enjoy this spectacle in your own apartment complex.

The moon, the brightest object in the night sky! It is a source of beauty and wonder.  From times immemorial, we humans have loved and admired its presence. But, every year there are days when it is beautiful in its absence: a Lunar Eclipse!

A Lunar Eclipse is a natural phenomenon which occurs when the sun, the earth, and the moon align. The earth blocks the light of the sun from reaching the moon, casting a shadow over it.  Depending on where you are on earth you can see the total or a partial lunar eclipse.

For centuries in India, eclipses were treated with mistrust and sometimes outright fear. Myths about the effect of the eclipsed moon on humans and the things around them left people unable to truly enjoy this spectacle. But eclipses make a great excuse to get together and celebrate! It also helps when one conveniently occurs on a Friday night. Indeed, the next total lunar eclipse visible from India is on the 27th of July, a Friday. In fact, the moon will have a characteristic red colour which is why it is called a “Blood Moon Eclipse.”

Read more: https://www.ndtv.com/food/chandra-grahan-2018-date-and-timing-in-india-and-the-significance-of-the-lunar-eclipse-1888841.

 

So if you want to organise a fun eclipse event within your apartment complex, here are some fun ideas to try out.

1) Light outs
To truly enjoy the night sky, darkness is a prerequisite. So turn off all the unnecessary lights and look up. The splendour of the heavens is yours to behold! If you prefer, also turn off all the electronics and enjoy the sounds of the night.  This also has the added advantage of saving electricity and reducing light pollution (if only for one day).

2) Stargazing
Not only is it the night of a total lunar eclipse, on 27th July, but the planet Mars will also be exceptionally bright. This is because it is the closest the red planet has been to earth in decades.  If you have access to one, try to organise for a telescope. It may also be a good idea to bring a few pairs of binoculars to watch the eclipse. However, if none of these options is available, your mobile’s app store has an excellent collection of free apps. These apps can help you easily locate planets, stars, and constellations in the night sky.

3) Potluck
What really brings a party to life is food.  What is better than mom’s homemade cooking? Every mom’s homemade cooking! Have each of your guests contribute to the buffet for the evening. Potlucks are a fun way to have the whole family cooking to bring a crazy variety of food to the communal dinner table.

4) Storytelling and poetry jams
While your entire society is gathered together why not have a few competitions? The moon has always been a muse to artists worldwide. Give the literary artists among you a chance to shine with original stories or poems about it. If you wish, you can also request the elders to tell everyone old legends and folktales. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good story, right?

5) Bonfire
Let’s face it, sitting out in the open, late into the night can get a tad chilly.  A bonfire is a fun solution to this problem. Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, and the wood is sufficiently dry. Get all your neighbours to sit around a fire singing songs and telling stories. Bonus points if they are about the moon!

6) Antakshari night
Speaking of singing songs, what can be better than the favourite Indian pass time- Antakshari. Divide your family and neighbours into two teams and belt out your favourite soundtracks under the waning light of the moon.

A Lunar Eclipse is a heavenly treat for everybody.  This one is going to be the longest total eclipse in the century! What’s more, it is perfectly aligned with a weekend. So why not make it truly memorable? Go ahead, gather every person in your own apartment complex! Have a happy eclipse!