My husband and I were thrilled to finally receive the keys to our gently used rental home a couple weeks ago. We made the trek from Oklahoma to south Alabama on a military move and after being in the car for hours and living in a hotel for a few days we were beyond excited to get settled. Coming from a charming little cottage in Oklahoma, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. I was chomping at the bit to put our stamp on this cookie cutter house! However, when our furniture took over a week to arrive my attention was diverted from the inside of the home to the outside.
Creating some curb appeal was my first task. After a number of trips to Lowes, a local plant nursery, and some extensive research on how to grow flowers, the front of our home took on a bit more personality and charm.
I knew I wanted to play up the large windows and front porch by adding some greenery and crisp white blooms. Because the kitchen window is shorter than the dining room window next to it, I felt something needed to bridge the gap from pine needles to window pane. What better than a window box garden spilling with fresh foliage!?
The vision was there, but the experience in landscaping was not. This is where my research and experimentation begin. I started by researching our planting zone to narrow down my scope of what plants would survive in Alabama’s hot, humid climate. Then I timed the amount of direct sun my window would receive. Turns out this window box was going to get blasted by the afternoon sun, so drought resistant, sun loving plants was a must!
I started by measuring the length of our window and determining how deep and wide I wanted the window box to be. This was all a matter of personal preference. With dimensions sketched, it was off to purchase some cedar. If you have never bought cedar before I should warn you it is a bit pricey. We, too, were sticker shocked but knew cedar would be our best wood choice for this project. Cedar is one of the best woods for exterior home projects because it holds up against the hot sun and Spring showers (and it’s one of the prettiest in my opinion).
Simple straight cuts, some wood glue, and nails for reinforcement and you have yourself a box! I wanted a bit more dimension to our custom cedar flower box so we added a 1X2 cedar trim along top and bottom.
To attach this beautiful box to the exterior of our home we purchased four L-brackets and some decking screws. The decking screws went into the vinyl siding easily and when it comes time to move, this flower box can easily be removed leaving little damage to the exterior siding.
NOTE: Make sure to use a stud finder when hanging your flower box! The combination of wood, soil, plants and water add weight to your supporting L-Brackets.
Finally, we drilled about 10 holes in the bottom of our flower box to provide sufficient drainage for our plants. Even sun loving plants need water and could be susceptible to root rot without proper drainage.
Now for the fun part- finding the perfect plants to display in our newly built flower box! If you have ever walked into a plant nursery you can attest they are beautiful, breathtaking, and often times overwhelming without a plan! I started by fine-tuning my flower box vision and making a list of potential plants for purchase.
Some questions you might ask yourself:
-Do I want flowers or herbs?
-How much maintenance am I willing to contribute?
-Do I want all of one plant or a variety?
-Do I want an organized, neat flower box or an overflowing one?
-How colorful do I want this planter to be and are there any colors I do or do not want represented?
Considering I am new to the area, I did a Google Search for plant nurseries nearby and landed on Pat’s Petals (simply because I liked the Mission Statement and it wasn’t far up the road). Buddy promised not to eat or pee on any of the flowers, so he came along with me on this venture.
Pat herself greeted us with a warm hug. We walked up and down each aisle of her greenhouse as she pointed out all the plants recommended to fulfill my vision. It seemed as though each time we added a plant to the cart we met a new friend eager to help. By the time I wheeled my cart to the register I had a circle of excited, supportive gardeners around me. Purchasing quality plants can really put a dent in your budget, but I am happy to be a customer for a hardworking, family owned and operated, Christ-centered business.
For the “thrillers” I went with Graffiti White Pentas (a hummingbird favorite) and some Aztec Grass. For the “fillers” I went with Cuban Oregano, Little Rubies and Coleus. Finally, for the “spillers” I went with spilling ivy and Bacopa in Snowtopia White.