The only "green space" for many city dwellers, the balcony is precious and its decoration should not be left to chance. So to transform these few square meters into a miniature garden, Pierre Alexandre Risser, landscaper, gives us his professional advice.Interview by Caroline Delman
What are the parameters to take into account before embarking on the development of your balcony?
They are many. We must first ask the question of whether this balcony will become a place to live with a table and chairs or if it should be just a showcase of greenery. Can we leave the windows open or not depending on the person opposite? Is it large enough to accommodate furniture? And above all, make sure to match the style of the balcony to the style of your interior.
How to protect yourself from plants with plants?
You can do it with a shrub. However, be careful to buy a shrub that will reach the right size at the height of its growth and that will adapt to the environmental conditions of the region where you are located. We think for example of a small palm laurel or a Japanese maple. Take care to plant it in a pot with sufficient diameter or height, about 50 cm in diameter or 70 cm in height (the important being the volume occupied by the soil). Before buying a plant, always consider environmental criteria as well as exposure to the sun. We will not buy the same plants for a Nice balcony and a Parisian balcony. You can also hide from the opposite thanks to a trellis panel on which a climbing plant will grow. Do not grow the vines on the wall as they can spread to the neighbor and cause neighborly conflicts. Some panels are already sold with the plant hanging which avoids waiting for the growth! For Parisian balconies, less exposed to light, I recommend star jasmine, Japanese maple, Chinese palm or Jerusalem sage.
Can we have plants that bloom and are persistent?
Yes and it is very practical for those who do not want to buy annual plants. One can thus choose perennial plants which bloom a few months a year like the heuchère with purple and caramel foliage, the geranium 'Orkney Cherry', the heart of Marie, the oriental hellebores or the Rozanne geranium for example.
What type of coating do you recommend for a natural balcony?
Certain synthetic turf when it is of good quality can be interesting. Sometimes seeds fall into the grass and grow there for a more real-life effect! There are also black lawns for a contemporary atmosphere. The rendering is very intimate and warm. A beautiful teak wood floor is also a good option for a natural effect. And if you have a few square meters on which you never walk, there are plants such as sedum (succulent plant), sold in boxes, which are placed on the ground and which offer a real plant carpet (to water once a month). Wood moss is also possible. Finally, there are transparent honeycomb plates in which there are pebbles for an impression of raw nature.
What budget should you plan to transform your balcony into a green corner?
It all depends on the time you spend in your apartment. If you only stay a few years, invest in beautiful plants that you can transport and choose inexpensive pots. If your apartment is almost the one of your life, you can gradually buy beautiful, strong and resistant pots. Investing in your balcony is like investing in a car. Either we put the price and it lasts a very long time, or we put a small budget but we will have to buy everything after a few years. It is a choice to make ! For more info: -Horticulture & Gardens, -Town terraces and balconies , by Pierre Alexandre Risser, Solar editions, 2006, -Transform your little garden , by Pierre Alexandre Risser, Ulmer editions, 2010.