Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Balcony Makeover and Bamboo Screen Tutorial

I recently decided that we needed to do a major makeover on our balcony. We moved in last year and were really dragging our feet about making it a usable space. Last summer, I planted some veggies and herbs, but that wasn't enough to get me out there and enjoy the weather. Perhaps it was the $5 plastic chairs from CVS, or the lack of shade and privacy. Either way, I decided this year, things were going to change! I've been gathering ideas on Pinterest, on my Balcony Inspirations board. I took the opportunity of the family I work for taking a two week vacation to take on the project. My boyfriend and I found some great Ikea patio furniture with a bench, two chairs and table for just $100, some cushions from Target for $12 each (actually cheaper than making my own, as it turns out), and some flower seeds/bulbs. My boyfriend said he wanted some kind of screen for privacy, since our townhouse looks out on the street and the kids in our complex often play in our "backyard" (it's really community space, so we have no real claim to it, and since it is the largest backyard, I guess we luck out. It's just really hard to relax when there are 12 year olds playing baseball or tag right below our balcony). After looking for many DIY ways of creating a privacy screen, we found some large bamboo poles at Ocean State Job Lot for just $1.39 a piece, and with some zip ties and rope, we created this really beautiful bamboo privacy screen. I love it!

There's our new patio set, such a great buy! And some citronella candles from Christmas Tree Shops...how are there already mosquitoes??

I hung some lantern-style lights above the screen to add some soft lighting. We also bought two solar lamps to put in the planters, although they don't add too much light. I got bamboo stakes to support the flowers that will go in that planter. 

Here I am planting my flowers...here's hoping they grow better than my veggies did!

Here's the layout. You have to kind of use your imagination for this part of the "tour." As you come out the back door, there will be a *I hope* lush balcony garden acting as a screen for this side of the balcony. There is a bleeding heart in the smaller planter (and I hope it has enough room in there or I will have to transfer it). I love bleeding hearts, and since it is a perennial flower that withstands cold climates, I hope this will stay with us for a while. I haven't planted the star flowers yet, but they will go in the orange planter, and will stand about  2 feet, providing a little privacy there. 

These three hanging planters are simply held by zip ties again, and will have orange cosmos, baby blue eyes nemophilas, and butterfly hybrid impatiens. I've never grown flowers all on my own, so here's hoping I don't kill them! 

 I am so excited for this one...I hope it has enough room in there. 

This is on the long wall, next to the bamboo screen, and will house imperial giant larkspurs. I LOVE these flowers, with their tall stalks full of blooms. They will be 4-5 feet tall, and will provide even more privacy. The more exotic of the plants we bought is a palm, which can't come outside yet because it is too cold. It will go in the corner between all the flowers and will be the final piece to the privacy garden. I can't wait to see what this all looks like!

Now, here's how we made the screen. It's pretty straight forward. 

You will need bamboo poles (ours are something like 6 feet tall and we used 20...that will vary depending on your space), a ton of zip ties in small and medium sizes, and rope. We bought everything at Job Lot fairly inexpensively. 

Lay your poles on a flat surface. Tie the zip ties in three places along the poles. Imagine how blinds are set up. Tie the larger zip ties around the bamboo poles, securing loosely. Next, use a smaller zip tie to tie two larger ties together. Pull just until the small zip tie starts to zip. You are basically constructing a chain, like the paper chains you might have made in elementary school. Once you have the smaller tie attached, you can pull the larger tie tight around the bamboo pole. Do this until all the bamboo are attached. Then you can fiddle with the tightness of the small ties until you are happy with the way it hangs. This was the most complicated part of the project. Once you are happy with everything, you can snip the ends of the ties.

Finally, tie your top pole to your balcony railing. We also secured our bamboo in several places so it wouldn't blow in the wind and make lots of noise. 

Not only does this add slight privacy and shade, but also beauty. Enjoy!

*Ironically, we went to Kmart for more potting soil, and found some rolled bamboo fencing that would do a similar job. However, it costs $60, and the bamboo is tiny. I like our DIY better. :)


  1. Oh My! This is fantastically fabulous! I LOVE this! I really wish I had a balcony to do this. One day!
    And I'm going to try my hand at gardening this summer too. Hopefully it works out! Good luck!

  2. Thanks Heather! You'll have to post pictures of your garden too!

  3. This looks great! Can I ask how your bamboo screen has held up over the past year? We desperately need ideas for weatherproof (including windproof) privacy screen ideas for our roof terrace & I like this idea very much. We used reed fencing originally but this was too weak and has been ripped to shreds by high winds, and discoloured from exposure to all the elements! Thanks.

  4. Sure! We live in New England, so we've had several serious wind/rain/snow storms this year. With the amount of anchoring we did, the screen hasn't moved or been damaged. We haven't taken it down, and so far the only wear I see is some discoloration (actually adds a little rustic, natural look), and the rope has settled about an inch or so, so we will probably retie it come spring when we get out and sit there more. I plan on taking it with us when we move this summer, and hopefully installing it wherever we end up. I've totally loved it!!

    1. I'm glad its worked so well for you. I'm in the UK and we are having an abnormally cold spring still, but I'm looking forward to getting our balcony railings revamped with your idea. I've managed to source some free bamboo canes so I can experiment with a few ideas I have. If they're big enough I'm hoping to drill through them and thread the rope through each cane, with knots or threaded beads to hold them in place. I'm also tempted to paint them to add a splash of colour, but I'm not sure if this will work. I'll let you know how I get on :)

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  7. Love love your bamboo fix for privacy on your terrace. I too am going to use it come Spring. I live on the No. East coast and winter gets pretty windy here.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    Be well & stay safe


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