We spoke to Emmanuel Donval about sustainable landscape design and his idea of using metal roof jacks to create a vertical metal garden.
You say that your services are in response to sustainable landscape practice, could you explain a little bit about what you mean by this?
For me, it is the extra time spent educating the client and considering all the options with them so we can make informed choices. Analysing the climate, the sun exposure, grouping the plants by water needs, using the appropriate spacing between plants, permeable paving and locally sourced materials are my tools to be as sustainable as possible in the context of each specific project.
What are the important factors to consider when designing a sustainable garden?
It is all about the context of the project, the identified desires of the clients and interpreting the constraints as opportunities. Sustainable design can just mean reducing the surface area of lawn, planting large deciduous trees for shade in the summer or making mulch on-site with the branches pruned by the arborist.
Your vertical garden of succulents in metal roof jacks is very interesting. What inspired you to create this project?
We saw roof jacks used as décor in a play, however they were not planted. My partner came up with the idea of planting them and I selected the plants and installed the irrigation.
How did you acquire the roof jacks for your garden?
The roof jacks are usually salvaged by roof contractors; I acquired them in the local building materials yards, in the recycling sections.
What are some of the advantages of designing a garden with metal jacks?
They come in different shapes and sizes, they don’t degrade easily and some are galvanised steel and some are aluminum.
What were some of the challenges of this garden project and what did you learn from them?
Irrigation is the challenge when the volume of soil is really minimal and there is full sun exposure. My first roof jack vertical garden is mounted on a wooden fence and the irrigation tubes are placed under the roof jacks. It is difficult to adjust and maintain… For now, the roof jack gardens can be accessed from behind, where you can pull the excess of tubing and accurately adjust the drips to be on the root ball of the plants.
What made you decide to work with salvaged materials? Did you incorporate any other salvaged materials into this garden project?
The cost, roof jacks are relatively expensive if you buy them new! Old roof jacks are the way to go. I also like re-using old tyres. I mix different types of tyres, I am keen on scooter and motorcycle tyres because they have smaller diameters and unusual, great patterns and markings. My clients love them! Sometimes, I am asked to create large planters, so I then recycle car or even truck tyres for the largest creations.
The vertical metal garden is a beautiful example of how a hard man-made material can work wonderfully with nature to create a mellow, industrial look. What are some important factors to consider when incorporating man made materials, such as metal, into a garden?
Heat, the metal gets very hot in the sun and is a very good conductor of heat… Sometimes you can literally cook the plants.
Do you have any other tips for creatively incorporating salvaged materials such as metal into a garden?
Create the effect of surprise; use the materials in such an unexpected way that it will take a few seconds for observers to realise what the materials are, or be humorous in your use of the materials.
Re-using old scrap metal to produce a sustainable garden is a very smart design idea. What does smart design mean to you?
It means the ideas and their implementations come together smoothly and easily and the result addresses at least two problems.
Do you have any tips for anyone trying to adopt a more sustainable approach to gardening?
Be curious and experimental because you keep learning all the time… Ideas come unexpectedly!
Der Landschaftsgärntner Emmanuel Donval verwendet für sein neuestes Projekt gebrauchte Verankerungen aus dem Dachbau. Und gibt ihnen so neuen Zweck und blühenden Inhalt.
Motorradreifen mit Erde und Pflanzen darin, Flaschen als Beetbegrenzung und Metallbuchsen als Blumentöpfe, in den von Emmanuel Donval gestalteten Gärten kommen gebrauchte Gegenstände ganz neu und unvermutet zum Einsatz.
Um wirklich von nachhaltiger Landschaftsgestaltung sprechen zu können, braucht es aber mehr, erklärt er im Interview. Donval lässt sich gerne Zeit, um seine Kunden über Klimaanalysen, Sonnenstände, die richtige Gruppierung der Pflanzen und den Wasserbedarf aufzuklären. Wichtig ist es, sich auf die gegebenen Bedingungen einzustellen. Dann kann manchmal schon ein großer Schattenspender an der richtigen Stelle zur nachhaltigeren Gartengestaltung beitragen.
Auf die Idee, gebrauchte Dachverankerungen zu vertikalen Blumentöpfen zusammenzubauen, kam sein Geschäftspartner. Donval wählte die passenden Pflanzen und installierte ein Bewässerungssystem. Sein Tipp für den eigenen Garten ist simpel, einfach wild drauf los experimentieren. Dabei kommen die besten Ideen.
Photo credit: Emmanuel Donval