June 1, 2016

Artificial Vertical Garden

A few months after Brian and I brought Zuzu home, I decided to remove the three rhododendron bushes outside the front door so Zuzu could go to the bathroom unimpeded. 

Here they were in their full glory.

I actually didn't mind them but Brian thought they were overgrown and wanted them much smaller.  He had his dad hack them to stumps about a foot high but Zuzu kept getting tangled in them so they had to go. It took about an hour to dig up each of the roots (I removed them over three days) and then Brian and I bought some stones from Home Depot and filled in the area.

While it's great for Zuzu to have a designated bathroom spot, the area was definitely lacking something green.  I had the idea to put in a vertical garden ever since I saw the amazing gardens outside the Grand Rapids Downtown Market.  While I would have loved to have a professional install a real live vertical garden on our garage I would not have loved spending that kind of money.  I considered buying vertical garden planters but the pictures in the reviews weren't very impressive and I didn't want to have to plant something new every year and wait for it to grow.  Instead, I found the next best thing: artificial foliage wall panels from Overstock.com.  I purchased two sets of panels, one set of the lime leaf and one set of the English ivy for a little variety. Each set would cover a 40" by 40" area which would give me a hanging about three by six-and-a-half feet.

They arrived a while ago but I've been taking my sweet time putting them together.  For a while I had four attached panels just hanging on a wall inside the house:

Putting the panels together was slightly more challenging than I expected although that's partially my fault for getting two different types of plants (or not reading directions).  The attachment areas on both sets didn't line up: 

Because I wanted to alternate the different panels I had to come up with a different way of attaching them.  I found some thin green wire in the workshop and cut pieces to attach the panels together. It was a tedious process getting around the leaves to tie the wire through and around the plastic backing:  

When I finished tying all of the wire I noticed arrows on one side of the panels. Maybe if I had all the panels in the correct orientation the attachment areas would have lined up perfectly but since the panels were already together I didn't even bother to check. I think the panels are actually more secure and have less thin areas because they are tied together with the wire (at least that's what I'm telling myself).


(I wore gloves because there is a waxy substance on the plants
that transfers to your hands when working with them.)

After getting all the panels wired together I measured the garage wall and marked where I wanted the holes to be drilled. I then enlisted the help of Brian to drill in the holes.
I bought this anchor kit which came with a masonry drill bit and we borrowed Brian's parents drill. 

I put tape on the drill bit so we didn't go deeper than necessary, gave Brian the safety glasses and let him drill away.  (Apparently the face of brick is better to drill into because it's less likely to crumble than the mortar FYI.)

Brian drilled two holes per panel making sure the first and last were right at the edges of the hanging.  No droopy corners allowed.  I'm so glad I had a man to drill the holes because each one took FOREVER and even with his strong tennis forearms it took multiple days (weeks actually since he kind of gave up on it for a while) to drill all of the holes.  After a few more attempts at drilling Brian went and purchased a new drill and two new drill bits (this took three separate trips to the store on the same day) and eventually we had enough holes to hang the plants. 

Here is the end result!


Not a drastic change and it's definitely not the vertical garden I've always dreamt of having, but if you think of it more as 3D wall art it's not so bad, right? It might have looked less artificial if the two plants I bought didn't look so similar.  Maybe I should add some lighter colored ivy or stick in some flowers?

A few good things about the hanging are that the plastic leaves haven't been falling off and the panels are protected from most direct sunlight and rain because of the roof overhang.  (They are meant for outdoor use so it probably wouldn't have been an issue anyway.) Also, Zuzu hasn't tried to chew on the leaves at all which I was worried about because I caught her chewing on them inside a couple of times.

All in all I'm not completely embarrassed about having this thing hang on my house so I'd say this project was a success!

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