Wondering what you should do with your entryway or front porch? Refresh your space by adding color with plants and pottery!
My name is Annie, and I am Al's great-granddaughter. You might recognize my house from an article I did at the beginning of the year called “New Year New Dreams”. I shared my vision about the landscaping ideas for my new home. Here are the steps I followed to bring some spring color to the front of my new home.
Step 1: Create your dream space
My front door needed some color, and I have been thinking about what I could do with it for a couple weeks. This was the week I decided to take that next step and really dream in the space. I mainly looked at pictures and went on Pinterest to see what I might like. Then I walked around Al's in search of the perfect pots and plants, gaining inspiration from our visual displays and plant combinations.
Step 2: Pick your pots
To really make a statement at the front door I wanted my pots to stand out. I picked black Japi pots made from recycled material. They are light-weight and are at a lower price point than some of the bigger ceramic pots. The black pots provide great contrast yet are neutral since I was undecided as to what to plant.
Step 3: Gain some inspiration from Grandma's house
Walking around my grandparents’ yard has always been one of my favorite things to do. Everything that we grow has been tested in their yard before it makes it to Al's stores. Grandpa likes to try new plants all the time. I always chuckle to myself when I come across a plant and ask my grandma what it is and she says, "oh a new one of grandpa's he is trying it out."
For this project I wanted to replicate two of my favorite things in their yard, the climbing star jasmine and hellebores along the walk to their front door.
Step 4: Pick Your plants
When picking out plants it is important to note the amount of sun exposure they will get and the space that you have. I love hellebores! They are great evergreen plants throughout the year and are one of the first things to bloom in January and February. They add color during the months where there might not be as much. On the annual side, I wanted something that would last into spring, and could change out around May. I chose pansies and violas! The vine I chose was clematis because it is flowering right now and beautiful! It is an evergreen clematis that blooms early in the year. I paired it with star jasmine in the back to add blooms in the summer months.
Plus, Grandpa said that I must have either star jasmine, daphne or sarcococca for something that smells nice right before you walk into my home. His words were something like "When people walk into your smelly house you need something nice for them to smell before." If you know Jack Bigej, then you know he is joking of course, because my home smells lovely.
Step 5: Prep and Place
With the Japi Pottery I selected, I needed to drill holes into the bottom. Since the pots are made from recycled plastic materials it is easy to drill into. I drilled holes next to the opening that props the pot up from the ground and allows it to drain through. For outdoor pots, the water should drain clear of the root system, so they do not rot. My drill bit was smaller than I would have liked, so to compensate, I drilled three holes in case one gets plugged up.
In the flower bed I placed the pansies, violas, and hellebores where I wanted them. I loved how on my grandparent’s walkway the hellebores lined the space and I wanted to replicate that going up the step to the landing. Placing the plants helps you get a good understanding of how many plants you have and helps with spacing them out. The pansies and violas I tried to group in sets of threes and mix and match the colors I had picked out.
Step 6: Plant
I planted my pots a little bit differently using what I call the "Aunt Dody Method" (Dorothy a.k.a. Dody, Al's granddaughter) She is a third-generation owner and Chief Growing Operator at the family farm. She has a wealth of experience when it comes to planting. She plants into a grower's pot or a plastic pot that either fits the diameter of her pots exactly or will drop in and sit on brick raisers to be at the rim level.
Here are the advantages of doing it this way:
- Plant in the flower bed where there is already dirt = no mess on your patio.
- Lighter and easier to carry when you go to switch the plants out each season.
- You don’t have to buy as much dirt to fill the whole pot.
Please note that if your pots are taller (like mine) you will want to weight the bottom. I used bricks as weight and risers! Best of both worlds!
Step 7: Water
This step is important because freshly-planted plants will be looking for nutrients and a water source. To help with the nutrients plant with Al's Transplant Fertilizer. It is specially formulated to help plants establish a healthy and vigorous root system.
Step 8: Admire
Now is the time to step back and admire what you have done. For me personally this is the hardest part because being in the garden center business we are always looking forward to what is blooming next. This time though, I put aside that I need to spray paint my orange drop in pot black because the rim shows and you can see it against the black pot (kind of… it might be on my list for next weekend). I took a moment to revel in my fresh spring looking pots! The important part is that you admire your work and feel a sense of accomplishment.
Cross your fingers for me that next time Grandpa Jack comes over all the plants are still alive, thriving and do not look like they need fertilizer!
Notes to Myself (and you if they are helpful!):
- Measure. I was thinking that the pots I picked out were going to be too big for the first landing by the post, so I went and bought pavers to expand the edge of the cement for the pots to sit on. Turns out the area was bigger than I was expecting (yay) so the pots fit perfectly. I then had extra pavers but that is not so bad because I already found another use for them!
- You can always go back for more. My eyes were too big for my yard, and I decided to just fill my car to the brim with plants, so I had a lot of planting to accomplish and planted pansies and violas everywhere. On the plus side though now, there is color everywhere you see!
- Look at the weather before you plant and discover that it is supposed to get cold the next week. My plan for the cold snap is to water my plants and especially my pots thoroughly because when it freezes the water dissipates and the plants are left dryer.