Make a living work of art
By: Garden Gate staff
| 1 of 7
Make a living work of art
A privacy fence makes sitting in your backyard a little more relaxing — you have the space all to yourself. The downside is that you may end up staring at a big, blank wall. Crank the décor up a notch by making this unique living wall planter made from a board, an inverted hanging basket and plants.
Succulents are the common-sense choice for this project. They don’t need a lot of water and actually do best with the good drainage a coco fiber-lined basket provides. In addition, the variety of leaf shapes and colors you can find is amazing, and most plants grow slowly enough that they’ll hold those interesting shapes for much of the growing season.
Click ahead to learn how to build it.
| 2 of 7
Tools and materials
Gather your tools and materials.Take a look at the photo and list below to make sure you have everything you need.
- 12-in. metal hanging basket with coco liner
- Z-bar bracket
- 2 parts potting mix, 1 part sand
- Outdoor paint, brush
- Hammer, screwdriver, steel staples, zip ties, scissors, landscape staples
- 18 × 24-in. sheet of coco liner
- 16 × 16-in. piece of treated plywood
- Assorted succulents and sedums
| 3 of 7
Build the basket
Start by painting a 16-in. square piece of treated plywood with outdoor paint. When it’s dry, turn it over and attach one of the Z-bar brackets (found at your local hardware store) to the back. The other one goes on the wall where the basket will hang. This bracket is strong enough to support the weight of the basket and hold the board flush against the privacy fence.
Remove the hanging basket’s chain. Premoisten the potting mix so it’s damp but not soupy. Add some to the basket and press it in firmly with your hand. You want to get as much potting mix into the basket as possible so it won’t settle, leaving gaps when you turn it over and start planting. If there’s space between the mix and the edge of the basket, add more.
| 4 of 7
Secure the basket
Cut a circle from the sheet of coco liner that’s a little larger than the size of the hanging basket opening. The color doesn’t matter since it won’t be seen later.
Next, fasten the zip ties to the basket’s lip. Push any coco liner that’s sticking out under the edge of the basket. This will keep all that potting mix from spilling out of the basket. Then string the zip tie through both layers of liner. Space them a couple of inches apart around the basket.
| 5 of 7
Secure the basket
Now lay the painted board on the mouth of the basket, grab hold with both hands and flip it over. Pound heavy-duty 9-gauge galvanized steel staples in around the edge to keep the basket securely fastened to the board.
| 6 of 7
Plant the succulents
Coco liners are so dense that you can’t just pull them apart with your fingers — use scissors to make a hole instead. You can poke the blades into the liner to cut a slit 3 to 4 in. long. That makes it easier to pull back the sides and create a planting space.
Once you have a spot in the liner ready, tip the plant gently out of its nursery pot. If the potting mix falls apart, like it did for this echeveria (Echeveria hybrid), just slip the roots into the prepared hole right away so they don’t dry out. Alternately, you may need to gently squeeze the root ball to get it in the planting hole.
Since this basket will be hanging on a wall, some of the plants might need help initially to stay in place. Keep top-heavy succulents secure by gently pushing a landscape staple over a leaf or two.
| 7 of 7
After filling the basket with succulents, leave it sitting flat, as it is here, and water. Give plants a week or so in a sheltered spot out of direct sun to settle in and start growing roots before you hang it.
Choose a place that gets morning sun or bright dappled shade. And you shouldn’t have to water more than once a week, even in the heat of summer. Succulents are drought-tolerant and will rot with too much water. You may need to take the planter off the wall to get an even application with the hose. Or use a watering wand with a gentle shower setting. If you expect several days of rain, move your living art to a sheltered spot.
It is possible to overwinter this planting in cold climates. However, most succulents stretch and get gangly even under grow lights so your best bet is to disassemble it in fall and start fresh again the following spring.