how to handle water drainage if balcony has a solid floor?!

Lynn NevinsJuly 30, 2012

Hi all. This is my first time balcony gardening. My balcony floor is solid cement. I have too many plants out there to carry them all inside for daily watering, so naturally I water them all out on the balcony.

But then I end up with puddles of water all over the balcony floor that sometimes take more than 24 hours to dry up. I am also now left with water stains all of the (white) cement floor.

Anyone else have this problem and how do you handle?


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I also had a balcony garden at my last apartment, and just continued to water and ended up with bad stains at the end of my year and a half stay. The apartment complex took money out of my deposit to cover the cost of cleaning it because I wasn't able to get it back to its original condition on my own. (Granted, I probably could have worked on it for a little more time, but they also were pretty bad stains.)

If you think you can get the current stains out easily, I would consider just buying saucers for your pots. It's a big expense if you have many plants but you'll probably be charged just as much for the cleaning when you move, and the saucers can be used after you move as well. You can save money on the saucers if you group many small pots on one large saucer, and you probably could get a discount ordering them online in bulk as well.

Since the cement is white, you may decide to just continue as you have been doing, and bleach the stains out periodically. (If it's rust stains, it might be a little tougher. Don't have a game plan for that situation.)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 1:28PM
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Lynn Nevins

Tx. Yeah, lately I've tried a combo of mopping up the brownis water with a separate sponge mophead that I use for the balcony only, and then I throw clean water back on the balcony floor mixed with a little bleach.

It irritates me though..all the work that I need to do...I wasn't so smart of them to put in a solid white balcony floor..and it wasn't like they told us we weren't allowed to have plants out there...

I suppose I could try saucers as well. It's just that many of my plants need enough of a soaking that I need LOTS of water to drain out...that a saucer just wouldn't be able to accommodate...

I guess a combo of everything...saucers..and taking care to mop up after....using a bleach/clean water solution should all keep the stains at bay. I don't see how my building management can expect it to stay perfectly white either way. I mean, it IS an outdoor balcony, obviously subject to the elements... ;-)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 1:39PM
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hookilau(long island NY)

Aside from using cache pots & saucers, you could use those plastic inserts if you need something deeper than saucers but not as deep as cache pots.

Have you considered using deck tiles? They're not that expensive, considering the headache it would save. You could discuss it with the building management & leave them behind when you move as a semi-permanent improvement.

Maybe pressure wash at the end of your tenancy to remove stains.

O wait, how about using a product for waterproofing concrete? Check your local Home Depot or Lowes.


Here is a link that might be useful: example of deck tiles

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Lynn Nevins

Thanks Hookilau. I've seen those wooden deck tiles and they are really beautiful but I'm not sure how that will help since...the water will still drain through to the cement balcony below...and I'll still have stains, yes? But I DO prefer the natural look of those tiles to my current stark white cement floor...

The waterproofing for concrete sounds like a good idea...though...what if my balcony is NOT concrete...could the product create problems for whatever material my balcony IS made of? I am just assuming it's made of concrete.... I mean, it's all white and it sure looks like concrete...the only difference being that the floor of the balcony is not as smooth as say a cement sidewalk would's a bit 'bubbly' and has a somewhat shiny/wet appearance....

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 1:22PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Is the floor surface even with the edge (not with a lip around it?) If so, you could use plastic dish drain mats, which are raised on 3 sides. The drain water would go right over the edge if the 4th side was at the edge. I think you could do it so no water got on the balcony floor but rain would still probably cause grit to collect around the edge and leave the "shape" of the mats after you picked them up, but that stain probably wouldn't be a difficult one.

Other thing I thought of was a shop-vac but you might not want to devote space to storing that. Maybe there's a mini version?

I also am a firm believer in flushing water through containers and letting them get pretty dry between waterings which, as you probably know, means that a lot of water can flow through before it starts to sink in to the "dirt." You can avoid having to use as much water if you start with a little sprinkle, give it time to seep in a bit, then maybe half an hour later water again until you see some runoff. I do that to try to reduce the amount of water flowing on the boards of our wood deck (which isn't painted on the bottom.) A lot less drainage is necessary to accomplish saturation and moderate flushing.

If it's OK to just paint the surface when you leave, that may be the easiest long-term solution. Just don't worry about it, then clean well (so it sticks) & paint when you leave. Hope some of this might apply/appeal to you. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 5:00PM
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hookilau(long island NY)

Well I suggested getting the deck tiles & leaving them in place as a permanent improvement. Kind of like carpet, no one looks under there to check for stains, lol.

I wonder if you could use an outdoor carpet but you may end up with an outline of the texture.

Time for a little homework. Get thee to HD or Lowe's and read the labels. I expect that it's standing water that causes a problem, so a few little tables with drip trays that you monitor for standing water would also solve your problem.

Talk to building management, other neighbors who have plants & find out how they handle the problem. There's a solution out there for you, you've just got to get out there and find it :)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 8:47AM
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I have indoor/outdoor carpeting on my balcony. It is more comfortable to be on the balcony in bare feet and gives a bit of protection from the cold in winter because the pots do not directly touch the concrete. It also absorbs spills.

In terms of stains, I have some sub irrigated planters and other pots with saucers so there is not too much water running through the pots. This year I am using different plant food and noticed that the carpet is getting some sort of white staining, but so far it has washed out well and doesn't look too bad. If it gets worse, I may get a new rug. I've had this one for 15 years and it is in good shape, but rugs are fairly inexpensive to replace.

I pulled the carpet up twice when the building worked on the exterior of the building per the J-11 law. Both times, no complaints about the concrete surface. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:45PM
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