Now is the time to have a ‘green’ home

Published July 15, 2020, 7:45 AM

by Johannes Chua

Plus five simple tips on how to start your own garden

If there is one thing that engineers, architects, and interior designers can agree on, it is that plants—whether in a garden, garage, doorway, hallway, or on top of one’s desk—must have a major presence in homes in the post-pandemic era. 

Aside from providing concrete-and-steel structures a refreshing atmosphere, plants have multiple benefits to improve the health and wellbeing of dwellers. Studies have shown that the coronavirus thrives and spreads in enclosed air-conditioned spaces. Thus, a space that’s airy, well-ventilated, and exposed to nature can help mitigate the risks of viruses and other germs or bacteria. 

“People now realize the value of having plants, gardens, and greens inside the home, regardless of the size of your space,” says Vincent Lim, landscape architect and founder of Clarq Design Studio and Balcony & Gardens. “The health pandemic, if there’s any good from it, opened our eyes to that reality.”

The Covid-19 crisis has pushed the plants to the forefront. This has also ignited some change in the way architects and interior designers envision their clients’ spaces. 

EMBRACE NATURE An ideal pandemic home is one surrounded by greens
(Photo shows the garden office of Balcony & Gardens)

“In the new normal, we may see a lot of garden renovation needs, vegetable gardening requirements, and more demand for tabletop or indoor plants for home office setups,” Lim says. “There are also studies that validate the contribution of office space greens in improving work performance—this is timely now given that a lot of people are now working from home.”

Lim has always encouraged homeowners to make room for green spaces. “This time, these gardens may not be an afterthought, but a must-have amenity.” 


1) Know what you want and why
Ask yourself first: Do you want an actual garden or to just put some greens in the corners of your house? Ask yourself as well why having a garden matters to you. It’s important that you become happy with this choice to become a plant parent or gardener because it is a relationship where time, patience, and care matter. After that, consider if you want to do it alone (based on your instinct and online research), or you want a professional group to do landscaping for you. 

2)  Location matters
Like any real estate investment, make sure that the location of your garden is in an ideal position. If outside, study the sun’s orientation, wind flow, and weather patterns in order to maximize the growth potentials of your plants. This is also the case for indoor plants where you need to watch for suitable humidity levels as well. You don’t want to place them in areas where air circulation and sun exposure are poor.

3) Start small  
You don’t have to copy every garden peg you see on Instagram or Twitter. Most of the time, these were done by professionals who have years of experience in gardening. Purchase a few plants that are “sturdy” and can survive with minimal supervision. Gradually expand your “green inventory” as time goes by and as you learn more about them.

4) Experiment with variation, sizes, and colors 
Once you are familiar with different plants, start combining varieties of leaves, forms, flowers, and ground covers to add a sense of adventure and drama. Add variegated features to add a pop of color amid a monochromatic green palette. Leaves can come in different colors and may brighten up your garden even more. Like curating a museum exhibit, your garden becomes an extension of your taste and design leaning. 

5) Keep your green passion alive  
It is sad to see a space with wilting plants and arid soil. But there’s nothing more depressing than seeing someone exhausted and losing the “green” steam. Keep your interest burning by attending gardening events after the pandemic, joining groups of enthusiasts who can help you, or by learning on your own with info online. Sometimes, it takes a village to make your garden thrive and your passion alive.

GREEN THUMB Gardeners of Balcony & Garden

In Green Company

Balcony & Gardens, informally started in 2017 under a different name, started as a home-based venture of Lim selling plants only to friends and referrals. It evolved later to offer landscape design and installation of residential gardens. The company also leases out plants for events such as launches, exhibits, and parties.

As a one-stop shop for everything landscape-related, it also offers garden maintenance, pool and water feature design, indoor plantscaping for offices and shops, among others. 

During the enhanced community quarantine, Lim says that the company was also affected, much like other businesses in various industries. But from the challenge, lessons were learned, and adjustments were made. 

“This pandemic really grounded us. It made us rethink how we can still serve our customers. Luckily, we have a lot of plants that are on stock in our garden office. They were supposed to be used for some incoming projects, but since those were temporarily shelved, we thought of selling them,” says Lim.  

As an initial effort of Balcony & Gardens during the ECQ, it pivoted to selling plants to provide financial assistance to its gardeners who have gone home to Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Bicol, and Samar. “All the profits from the sales were given to them. It also allowed us to share some seed money and make pre-orders for our partner-nurseries in the provinces.” 

Going digital

The pandemic also fast-tracked the company’s online efforts, with its Instagram and Facebook pages becoming primary sales venues. The company also set up a temporary facility for its gardeners so they don’t have to endure the inconvenient commute. 

“All our landscape architects and designers are also working on a virtual network. We’ve opened our lines for online consultations for design-related queries of our customers. On the other hand, I still frequent our shop in Quezon City not only to do quality checking, but it’s really just great to be surrounded by greens,” he says. 

Lim advises homeowners to not only consider green spaces for aesthetic purposes, but also to look into urban edible gardening. A variety of fruits and vegetables, even herbs, can be grown easily even inside a condo unit. It just takes a little bit of adjustment and a ton of passion to “make your space greener and sustainable for growing food for sustenance.” 

“Now more than ever, we feel that being surrounded by nature is essential for us to live a healthier life,” says Lim. “The pandemic taught us to always be on our feet, accept the things we cannot change, and trust in ourselves. The most important treasure we have is our health and wellbeing. Let nature nurture and heal us the natural way. And it starts with putting greens in our home.”