Thursday, April 27, 2017

Super Easy DIY Window box

Last year my husband and I installed a large shed at the back of our property. For my husband the shed is a useful structure where he plans to do his woodworking, but for me it is a big, grey, box in the middle of my garden. It may be utilitarian structure, but I want it to be at least a little bit pretty!

So I came up with this super easy window box idea that takes mere minutes to make up and install. The best part about this project is there is no woodworking involved! Anybody who has access to a power drill can make this window box!

Long metal troughs seem to be everywhere this spring. I have seen them at Walmart (under $10) in the housewares department and at the Dollar Store (only $4!). The one I used for this project is available at Loblaw garden centres here in Canada ($15). 

The metal troughs at Walmart and the Dollar Store are unpainted, but you could easily get some multi-surface spray paint and fancy-up a plain trough.

To prepare your trough for planting, take a metal spike (or a large nail) and hammer holes into the bottom for drainage.

As you can see here, my husband punched a good number of evenly spaced holes into the bottom of the trough to insure my plants would have good drainage.

The plants I used are:

• 1 and a half trays of good-sized pansies
• 2 four inch pots of variegated ivy
• 2 pots of daffodils (from the grocery store floral department)
• 1 tray of purple violas + a couple of plugs from a tray of yellow violas

The window box is at the back of the property well beyond the reach of a garden hose so I used Miracle Grow's Moisture Control Potting Mix. It absorbs up to 33% more water than basic potting soil. I will still have to lug a watering can to the back of the property to water the container planting, but at least I will have to do it a little less often. 

(Note: Another bonus of this potting mix is that it has built in fertilizers that will feed my plants all season long.)

Planting up the trough took less than ten minutes. First, I filled the trough with a generous layer of potting soil (about half to three-quarters full). 

Then I placed the 2 pots of daffodils, plastic pot and all, at the back of the trough and worked them snugly into the soil. This may sound like an unorthodox way to plant up a window box, but I have a good reason for not removing the daffodils from their plastic pots. 

The daffodils will look great for a few weeks. Then the flowers will start to fade and the foliage will start to brown. Before my window box begins to look tattered, I want to remove the two pots of daffodils and replace them with something else (most likely some other annuals that I'll buy at a garden centre). Leaving the daffodils in their plastic pots will make them easy to lift and remove.

The daffodils won't be wasted. I'll remove them from the pots and plant them out somewhere in the garden where their foliage can die back naturally. With any luck, they'll bloom in the garden next spring.

(Note: Never cut back the fading foliage on your daffodils! If you want them to bloom year to year, you must allow the foliage to feed the bulb that produces next year's flower.)

Once the pots of daffodils were in position, I planted the pansies, violas and ivy as you would do normally– making sure there were no air pockets in the soil between my plants.

The pansies and other plants should look great well into summer. At that point, I may or may not want to freshen up the window box to see me through the rest of the season.

Once it's all planted up, installing your window box couldn't be easier!

I purchased two 8 inch metal brackets at Walmart (Note: the size of your brackets might vary slightly depending on the size of your trough). My husband installed the brackets with his drill and a few screws.

The handles on my trough made it a snap to lift the window box into place on top of the two brackets. Even if your metal trough has no handles, it should still be a simple job to put the window box into position. 

The weight of the container planting is enough to hold the window box in place. 

Watering the window box is easy too. Surplus water will run through the drainage holes in the metal trough to the ground below. No rotting wood!

I am super pleased with how this project turned out. It makes the utilitarian shed fit nicely with the rest of my garden.

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  1. Your garden photos are lovely! And I adore the dogs. I've been thinking about getting a Sheltie after years of having retrievers (I'm feeling my age and the retrievers are so big). I'm a little worried about Shelties' barking. Is that a myth? I have had a terrier mix, and he barks a fair amount.

    1. Shelties are wonderful, smart dogs that make terrific pets but, they are barkers. They also have tons of energy and like to be busy. They love to run and play ball. I'd say they are easier to manage than a big retriever, but you'd definitely have to be up for a good deal of daily walks. All the best Joanie!