Your little garden, your balcony or your terrace looks gray? It’s time to take care of it, to give it life again, in these times of confinement. We give you 8 essential tips from two professionals in outdoor design to create a small green space that is practical, flowery and easy to maintain.
To make the right choices and obtain a terrace, a balcony or a small green and pleasant garden, follow the 8 key tips from Marc Petit, landscaper at Terrasse des Oliviers, and Gaston Bintener, landscaper at Paris Balcon.
Before fitting out a small terrace or balcony, first, think about the consistency you want to give it. Is it a mineral, design, country or Zen atmosphere? “It’s like our interior, we have to find a style and a consistency,” explains Gaston Bintener. Once the atmosphere has been determined, Marc Petit recommends starting with a visit to the place. “We are looking at whether there are things to keep (plants) or whether to remove plants. If it is not a wasteland, we do not have to shave everything.” And then we start the layout!
Once the inventory is established, Marc Petit advises looking where the accesses are. “It is a question of determining the flows in the outside space. If there is access to the kitchen, we reserve it for an outside reception/dining area .” In the same way, we pay attention to the bay windows by avoiding placing a plant or a piece of furniture right in front. “Also think of the water arrivals,” says Gaston Bintener. The more accessible the water, the more chance you have of successfully planting.
2. Create a small green space: pay attention to the exhibition
Half shade, half sun, here is the ideal exposure for your terrace/balcony / small garden according to Marc Petit. Of course, if you are facing north or south, you can still arrange your little corner of greenery. The choice of plants and layout will only need to be more carefully considered. In the North, opt for fern- type plants that love shade and humidity. In the South, Mediterranean plants are available to you! Gaston Bintener also recommends paying attention to the wind, brightness (non-direct light) and orientation (for inclement weather).
3. Choose your plants to bring greenery
For a European climate, Marc Petit chooses persistent plants with generous flowering like the Mexican orange tree, and plants that are green all year round. It adds small, easily pruned trees like Japanese maple, even if it loses its leaves.
Gaston Bintener also goes in this direction, “we stay on plants that we find at home”. No need to plant things that freeze if you live in Paris. Before sowing, it is important to learn. “Go to a nursery, a garden center or check the internet for what these plants give.”
For fans of flowers, “forget the little plants that we put in flower boxes but rather put small shrubs that do not grow too much and that are pruned once a year, in winter. Prefer those that make flowers”, indicates the landscaper of Paris-Balcon. Marc Petit agrees with him on this point, it is better to choose shrubs that are easier to maintain, perennial flowers, plants that do not require too much maintenance.
1/3 – 2/3: the rule to adopt according to Gaston Bintener. The first third is made up of seasonally flowering plants, the rest of perennials that remain green all year round like shrubs.
Some ideas of plants: the photinia but beware it quickly becomes large, olive bushes, yew, holly, ferns in dark places, viburnums for winter. We avoid bamboos that become invasive and we prefer large grasses in tank-like miscanthus.
4. Create beds or the illusion of beds on the terrace
When you have to choose pots, for a terrace, for example, Marc Petit advises to make enclaves, that is to say, small spaces where pots are agglomerated. This is to give the impression that there is the earth in a massive garden way.
The landscaper opts for beautiful terracotta if you have the budget. Otherwise, the polystone pots (earth fiber, fiber cement, concrete imitation) are suitable for small budgets. The trick: install them close to each other to give the illusion of a real massif.
5. Create a small green space: choose a good floor covering
On a terrace, in a courtyard or on a balcony, it is important to choose the right flooring. Marc Petit suggests using exotic wood flooring. The landscaper specifies that this type of wood becomes gray over time, so you have to prepare for it. If you don’t like it, choose natural stone slabs such as marble or granite. Gaston Bintener also turns to exotic woods while avoiding teak and prefers ipe, which ages better.
6. Install practical furniture in your outdoor space
The landscaper of Paris Balcon chooses to arrange the corner of greenery with a small table and two chairs, “it is pleasant to settle there when the weather is nice”, rather than garden furniture which quickly becomes invasive.
At Terrasse des Oliviers, Marc Petit recommends furniture made of exotic wood or braided straps. The garden furniture is not to be excluded from his point of view, “because the important thing is to be good when you are seated”.
The Paris Balcon landscaper, Gaston Bintener, adds that it is important not to forget the exterior lighting, which is pleasant on summer evenings. “I recommend light spots on the sides of the terrace. Avoid placing them in the center, this narrows the space”. Think of stake or burial spots, wall lights, and terminals. Whether LED or halogen, Marc Petit differentiates mood lighting (around 35W) and space lighting (50W).
7. Arrange a small garden or terrace: avoid obstructing the view
The landscaper from Paris Balcon warns: “Be careful with verticality and large-volume plants which tend to obstruct the view”. Marc Petit also believes that verticality is not essential in the layout of a small terrace or balcony. “Unless you want to hide from neighbors, avoid placing cross-type signs outside,” advises Gaston Bintener. These pieces of wood or plastic restrict the space.
For a question of vis-à-visor to hide an unsightly wall, Gaston Bintener advises “climbers or a green wall but beware the green wall requires a professional for the choice of plants and requires a lot of maintenance”.
8. Current trends in exterior design
The two landscapers advise betting on luxury codes for exterior design. “A shades of black, gray, white, green” for Marc Petit and “wood and plants” for Gaston Bintener.
For plants, the same observation for Marc Petit, “today, balcony-terrace draw more towards natural colors and are full of fewer small colorful flowers”. Favor white flowers such as jasmine, agapanthus, oleander (which is white), lexicon which is a ground cover.
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