Wrought iron juliet balcony

What is a Juliet Balcony?

Wrought iron juliet balcony

Adding a wrought iron Juliet balcony can improve your home’s curb appeal.

Whether you’re looking for a way to spice up your plain, unassuming home or you’re afraid someone may take a tumble out of an upper story floor-to-ceiling window, Juliet balconies are exactly what you need.  Unlike a traditional balcony that takes up outdoor space, requires frequent maintenance to ensure safety and can be expensive to install, a Juliet balcony allows your floor-to-ceiling windows or patio doors to open fully, bringing the feel of an outdoor patio to an interior space.

Juliet balconies are essentially just railings that mount to the exterior of a home, either directly to the siding or between columns or along ledges, creating the illusion of a fully functional balcony from afar.  There are loads of styles to choose from, adding curb appeal to any style home or building.  Small apartments and businesses benefit from the addition of Juliet balconies, especially when rail planters, hanging baskets or shutters are added to the picture.

What’s in a Name?

Juliet balconies go by a plethora of names, including “faux balcony” and “balconet.”  The name “Juliet” gives a nod to the Shakespearean play, “Romeo and Juliet,” and appears in architecture catalogs from the 1920s.  Even then, the idea of opening up interior spaces and bringing lots of fresh air indoors was appealing where space was limited.  Many of the buildings from that era still have their original iron Juliet balconies, especially those with French and Spanish influenced architecture.

Today’s Juliet balconies are made from a wider range of materials than those in the past, running the gamut from traditional wrought iron to lightweight, durable aluminum or steel.  Some modern buildings have turned the Juliet balcony on its head by removing the bars in favor of thick pieces of glass – it just goes to show that no matter your architectural flavor, there’s a Juliet balcony perfect for your building.

Juliet balconies with plants

Installing window boxes and hanging baskets on faux balconies makes them even more appealing. Image from balconette.co.uk.

 

Safety with a Juliet Balcony

Not only do Juliet balconies look nice, they can help keep your family safe both during and after construction.  Floor to ceiling windows and large doors that open to nothing are potential fall hazards for children and adults alike.  Juliet balconies typically reach about waist-high on adults and have tightly spaced bars, ensuring that no one accidentally stumbles into a broken leg during a party.

Replacing a second story deck or building one from scratch can take a lot of time if you’re just working on it over the weekend.  This is a great reason to install a temporary Juliet balcony.  With the upper story door secured by a metal railing, there’s no more worrying that someone will leave it unlocked or open it without thinking – now you can take your time designing and building the perfect upper story deck.

No matter your reasons for installing a Juliet balcony, durable aluminum, iron and steel options will give you many years of service for much less money than a standard balcony and without the hassles.  Many companies, like Hooks & Lattice, will even work with you on a custom design to give your home a unique touch.

composite raised bed garden kit has everything needed.">Composite lumber raised garden bed

How Do You Build a Raised Garden Bed?

Composite lumber raised garden bed

A composite raised bed garden kit includes everything needed.

We all imagine that our gardens will be beautiful, thriving oases of green, springing right out of the ground, but it’s not always possible without a great deal of hard work and manipulation of native soils that may be full of clay, rocks or sand. Enter the raised bed garden! Whether you need to raise your beds just above the ground and start with fresh soil, or bring your garden up to a height where bending is no longer necessary, raised beds may be the perfect solution to your gardening problems.

Benefits to Raised Bed Gardening

Raised beds are great in areas where the soil is difficult to work, or when you want to add an elevated feature to your landscape – kits are available to build complicated garden shapes that can be useful to segregate herbs in gardens or aggressive plants that may escape a traditional garden and run wild. When you build a raised bed, you have a unique opportunity to tailor the soil conditions to the plants you intend to grow, rather than having to force those conditions onto soil that may be resistant.

Many gardeners prefer to use raised beds for vegetables and small fruits, since they can be caged with strong wire to protect seedlings and young transplants from wild animals. Sometimes, gardeners build custom-fit plastic hoop houses for their raised beds – when properly designed, these additions allow gardeners to get a jump on planting, since they act like tiny greenhouses.

Decorative raised garden bed

Raised garden beds can take fanciful shapes.

 

Raised Bed Gardening Challenges

Unfortunately, raised gardens don’t function exactly the same as plowed garden plots, and may sometimes require a great deal of manual care, especially when the time comes to clean up dead plants after harvest. Instead of plowing plants back into the soil, it’s often less disruptive to pull them out of the bed, leading to significant time investments. Of course, if you only have a few beds, or your raised bed plants are perennials, this isn’t a concern.

The size of a raised bed is limited by your ability to reach across it, and, in the case of a raised garden on legs, the weight of wet soil. This is why raised beds are rarely more than four feet across – most people can reach two feet into the bed from either side. You must be careful to prevent soil compaction caused by walking or leaning on the soil in the bed, or plant roots may have trouble penetrating. In addition, a bed that’s only four feet wide shouldn’t be expected to accommodate anything bigger than a four or five foot wide bush, limiting your planting options.

Setting Up Your Raised Beds

Planning and setting up your raised beds is a precision task, though one easy enough for a homeowner with a few simple tools. The most important part of planning is choosing your bed’s location – after all, they’re not exactly easy to move once constructed and filled with soil. For example, you would place a raised bed intended for vegetables in a location that gets at least eight hours of bright sunlight each day, instead of in a spot that suddenly becomes shady when the trees leaf out.

Many people start their first raised beds with commercial kits containing cedar or composite boards and specially designed joints that ensure their garden comes out perfect. You can prolong the life of your garden by placing the frame on top of a geotextile fabric that will prevent perennial weeds from working their way up through the soil. Never use black plastic, as this material can cause drainage problems under raised bed gardens.

Once in place, you need only fill your bed with lots of rich, well-draining soil and pop your plants into their new homes. You can even build trellises over the beds to allow vining plants to climb unhindered, or train them into a central arch that runs between two beds. Raised gardens allow nearly endless possibilities for a gardener with a creative streak.