DIY Backyard: Create a living wall
Turn a pair of salvaged shutters into an instant planter for your garden.
I’ve been recycling materials for years. I enjoy seeing everyday things differently and love alley treasures and architectural salvage. For this project, I revamped a pair of old shutters into a new home for plants. This living wall makes a striking focal point in the backyard, and it barely costs a thing! Here’s how to make your own.
1. Assemble your wall. Screw two matching shutters together at all four corners and at the middle. Make sure the slats are facing in the same direction on each side.
2. Seal or paint it. If you find shutters with peeling paint or a faded finish, all the better! For a rustic look, just seal them with shellac or varnish. Another option is to paint them a gorgeous apple red or sunflower yellow. I chose a subdued brown, because I have lots of chocolate-brown deck accents, and I love the way the chartreuse color of my succulents really becomes the focal point.
3. Make a kickstand. For added stability, or if you’d like your shutter garden to be freestanding without a base, screw a drawer handle horizontally in the middle of the back, where there’s solid wood. Then look for an interesting stick or slender tree limb. Slide one end of it into the handle, tilt the wall back a bit, and use the stick as a kickstand to support it.
4. Add a base. Adding feet or another base will give your wall added elegance and presence. I used some old andirons. Or try cabinet knobs, short candlesticks, wooden feet from a discarded nightstand or even interesting branches you find in your yard. It’s amazing what you find when you start looking around. So have fun treasure hunting! Depending on what you choose, you can attach your base with screws, straps or glue.
5. Plant your wall. I planted succulents in my shutters, since they’re drought-resistant and don’t need a lot of fussing. They also come in such beautiful textures and colors and have interesting trailing habits. I added some small ornamental grasses and drought-tolerant perennials to fill out the mix. For planting, remove plants from their pots and use a hose to lightly rinse off all the soil and bark clinging to the roots. Next, put a little soil between the slats of the shutters and firmly tuck in each plant, adding more soil as needed after the plants are in place.
6. Find a home. Place your wall near an entry for a natural welcome, or in
a sunny corner of the patio to enjoy
7. Water your wall. Turn your hose on a light spray setting and water both sides of the shutters to settle the soil. If you choose drought-tolerant plants, you will need to water less often than with other plants. Just be sure to monitor the soil’s moisture.
If you're a Birds & Blooms subscriber, be sure to visit our Web Plus page, where Alison gives a full list of her plant choices and other great options to use in your very own shutter project!