Designing your backyard patio is a pretty fun project, but there is a lot to consider when you get into the details. There are a few essentials to consider in your design that will make your Des Moines backyard patio into an outdoor escape you’ll never want to leave.
Outdoor Kitchen & Food Prep Space
One of the most common requests for landscape designs is to incorporate a dedicated area for grilling. Our design pros have a lot of experience, and tons of ideas for how to incorporate an outdoor kitchen space into your yard, even in small spaces.
Ideally, your outdoor cooking area should be easily accessible from the indoor kitchen, so you can quickly pop in and out for whatever you need. A whole outdoor kitchen might be more than you want or have space for, but you’d be surprised what sort of innovative ideas our designers can come up with to create a super functional and beautiful food prep space near the grill.
Living & Seating Spaces
People love to congregate together! Whether it’s just family or the whole neighborhood, you’ll want to make sure you have enough space for everyone. A designer can create a layout for your landscape design that will maximize your seating options while maintaining beautiful design and highlighting the features of your yard.
Even if you’re working with a smaller yard, a designer can help you create multiple defined outdoor spaces. A dining space with a table and chairs near the grill is a top priority, and a living room or family room space with comfortable seating is ideal for relaxing. It’s always nice to have a lounging space where you can soak up some vitamin D and watch the kids play, or even a private and secluded space where you can sit and meditate or enjoy a quiet cup of tea.
Shelter From the Elements
We usually get outside to enjoy the natural environment, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little shelter from the elements as well. A landscape designer will work with your yard and consider our climate, prevailing winds, and sun positioning to give you protection from the elements.
Whether it’s with umbrellas, strategically planted trees for shade, a patio with a full roof, or an elegant gazebo, a designer can create shade and wind protection that blends seamlessly into the overall design of your landscape. With a little something between you and the sky, you can still enjoy your outdoor space when the weather is less than ideal. Watching the rain from a covered gazebo can be a cozy way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
Having a fire feature in the backyard extends the day, making your yard inviting and comfortable, even after the sun goes down. Firepits and outdoor fireplaces are available in endless styles and variations now.
A landscape designer can show you a variety of ideas and designs that could fit in with your design style. Whether you prefer sleek and ultra-modern gas-powered firepits, a more traditional style wood-burning fire ring, or even an outdoor oven, our designers can work a fire feature into your space.
Not into a firepit or a fireplace? Torches can give you a similar ambiance and are available in many different styles.
Integrating lighting into your landscape is a subtle way to make a huge impact. A landscape designer will work in lighting that matches your style and highlights the assets and focal points of your landscape and home.
Twinkling string lights make seating areas feel cozy and warm. Decorative overhead fixtures add an element of art to covered patio spaces and are the perfect finishing touch to really anchor a covered space. Discreet path lighting and accent lighting invite you to explore your yard after dark and highlight the best features of your home and landscape.
Seeing the different elements of your space lit up after dark gives you a whole new perspective on your space, and a new reason to fall in love with your home!
Keeping these ideas in mind will help you design the patio space of your dreams for your family to enjoy for years to come. If you’re not quite sure how to put your design onto paper, get in touch with one of our professional landscape designers! We can help you nail down a design, and come up with a plan to make it happen.
When you plan your landscaping, you are planning for the long term. You want everything, especially border edging, to last as long as possible—no matter what Mother Nature throws at it. Since landscaping is often one of the most significant investments you’ll make in your property, it can feel like you’ve wasted money if products break down, decay, or start to look dingy after just a few years.
There’s a wide variety of products you can use for border edging. Here are the pros and cons of a few of the most common edging options available, and what we recommend for the longest-lasting hardscapes in Iowa.
Plastic edging is a very affordable option, and it comes in a variety of colors and styles. However, plastic edging is a true case of “you get what you pay for.” Plastic edging degrades very quickly when exposed to the elements. Sun fades its color and weakens the material while snow and freezing temperatures make it even more brittle. Then it starts to crack, break, and look bad in just a few seasons. The plastic edging looks cheap, and it only gets worse with time. While plastic edging may seem like a great deal, you’ll be replacing it pretty frequently, and cleaning up all the bits and pieces from your yard can be difficult. We don’t recommend plastic edging to anyone.
A clean-cut line of spade edging looks fantastic. It’s minimalist, it’s definitely the most affordable option, and it allows strong landscaping to stand on its own without distraction. However, it is a high-maintenance approach. To keep it looking nice, it needs to be cleaned up at least once per year, and perhaps a second time depending on how crisp you want to keep the edge.
Metal edging products are very utilitarian and leave very clean lines. With that said, they’re not particularly attractive or creative, and they don’t bend well. These products are most useful in straight lines for commercial applications and utility areas of your home.
Natural Stone Border
One of the best and longest-lasting options is a natural stone border. Natural stone has a classic, timeless look, and fits into any landscape beautifully. As edging, natural stone is extremely durable, and weather and sunshine won’t drastically affect the look or texture. If you’re going with stone, avoid soft stone, like Iowa Buff, as it will discolor and degrade very quickly. Choose a dense stone that will stand up well to wear and tear over time.
Stones that are at least 6″ wide and 2-3″ thick are the best for durability. If you have areas that see regular traffic from lawn equipment, like around pathways and patios, choose larger stones. Natural stone can be cut to custom sizes and installed end-to-end for a tighter or looser fit, depending on the look you’re going for.
Paver stones are also a top option for landscape borders. These days, there are so many varieties, styles, sizes, and colors available to choose from! They’re also very durable and will last for a very long time. Similar to stone, we recommend larger and thicker pavers—at least 6 inches wide—for high-traffic areas.
When it’s time to consider a new landscaping project, you need to know the basics of how to work with a landscape professional. What is the consultation process? How long will it take? And how much is all of this going to cost?
Our resident landscape expert Keegan Lare, shares his advice on what to expect when you work with our professional team here at Ted Lare.
The First Step: The Phone Consultation
After you call in to start a project, we organize a phone conversation with one of our designers. This typically happens within 24-48 hours of the initial call, depending on what part of the season we’re in.
During this call, we answer any questions you may have, and we try to get a feel for the projects you’re looking for. If it seems like a solid fit for both sides, then we schedule an on-site consultation at your home or your business if it’s a commercial job.
Next Steps: The On-Site Consultation
We usually meet for up to an hour to check out your residence and discuss our initial thoughts on your project.
We charge $100 for consultations in the Des Moines Metro area, but this $100 gets credited back to you if we do the work. Depending on the complexity of the job, we may charge up to $200-500 to account for some of our design time. This will all be discussed on-site and agreed upon before we move forward. You will also receive that amount back in credit if you decide to carry out the project.
Most importantly, the on-site consultation is a time for you to ask questions, so don’t be shy!
Common Questions during the Consultation
Here are some of the questions you can expect us to discuss with you when we visit your property for the first time.
What are your goals?
In general, we like to ask homeowners what their top 3 goals are for their outdoor spaces. These goals help us focus on what is most important to you and allows us to develop a plan that meets your aspirations.
How do you live?
We’ll also ask for general information about your lifestyle. For example, how big are the gatherings you expect to have on your new patio? What does a typical weekend look like for you? Do you love the sun, or prefer to hang out in the shade?
What are your tastes?
Any images that show your taste in materials (patios, walls, etc.) always help us get an idea of what you like. Providing any previous plans for the property also helps us save time creating a base plan from scratch.
What is your budget?
Discussing a budget range is very helpful so that we know any limitations on the project. We’ll generally give options with different price points, as clients find it beneficial to have a few choices.
Information Gathered for Design
When at your site, we capture all the data we need to create an initial design. This includes several photos of the yard and home, critical measurements of the space, and information on accessibility, powerlines, and obstacles.
This process can be quick or rather extensive, depending on the existing conditions of the location. New homes without a lot of previous installations are easy to measure and capture. Older homes with many existing hardscapes and plantings can take longer to document.
We try to respond with design ideas and a preliminary budget within two weeks of the first meeting, but this time frame depends on the complexity of the project. If there are many construction elements to design and price out, it may take longer.
After we provide you with an initial design, the decision is in your hands on how to move forward and set a schedule. Often there are different phases of work to choose from, such as tree removal, garden preparation, installation of hardscapes, etc. We are happy to do it all at one time or phase it in over a few years. Usually, it makes sense to do as much construction as possible in one trip to limit the cleanup expenses involved in multiple trips over several years.
Once the project scope of work is agreed upon, we work to schedule the project in the near future. If it is a simple planting, it may only be a few weeks before we can complete the work. If the project involves a lot of construction, it might be a few months before we can start a project. Once we start a job, we see it through to completion. Our install crews are some of the best around and you will love working with them.
The landscape consultation process is often that simple. For a small fee and in short order, you can have professional designers guide you towards your ideal renovation. If you have any further questions on the landscaping process, or would like to start a project, please don’t hesitate to contact Ted Lare Design & Build. We would love to hear from you!
Adding living plants to your holiday Christmas decor is easier than it might seem. Incorporating live plants into your holiday decor brings a sense of vibrancy and natural beauty that you just can’t get with artificial plants. We’ve put together a festive list of our favorite ways to decorate with live holiday ornaments in Iowa, and two tutorials for fun holiday decor with houseplants.
Houseplants on a Christmas Tree
We think adding houseplants to the Christmas tree gives it a unique and elegant look. Here are a few innovative ways to add some of your favorite houseplants to your tree decor. The very best part about all of these ideas is that you can keep them out well after Christmas.
Glass ornaments with openings can act like tiny terrariums. You can find open-sided glass ornaments in a variety of sizes and styles at our garden center. You can keep them super simple, popping a single air plant or a sprig of evergreen into each one, or get more creative by crafting a miniature ecosystem.
Get the kids involved and create tiny Christmas fairy garden terrariums. Using sphagnum moss as a base, you can create a tiny holiday scene in each one. Small pieces of an evergreen branch can stand in as a tiny Christmas tree. Hanging these on your Christmas tree, or placing them around the house, adds understated elegance and simplicity to your decor.
Simple metal or wire ornaments in classic holiday shapes, like stars or bells, are very trendy right now. Using wire, attach a grouping of air plants or succulents to one of these ornaments, and you’ve got a beautiful mid-century modern living ornament for your home.
Terra Cotta Pots & Macrame
Macrame has come back in a BIG way in the last year or two. Our favorite versions for the holidays are tiny macrame hangers for 1-2″ terra cotta pots. You can hang these on your Christmas tree for delightfully unique ornaments. If you’ve never done macrame before, don’t be intimidated. There are numerous videos online on how to make simple macrame plant hangers. Pop a tiny bit of soil and a mini succulent, “baby” spider plant, or other small plants into the terra cotta pot, and you’ve got some super cute living ornaments for your Christmas tree.
Our Favourite Live Christmas Decor
Evergreen boughs are a classic living Christmas decoration. There are so many different kinds of evergreens available, you can never go wrong with adding some branches to your holiday decor. Whether you add some to pots on the front porch, arrange them in vases on the table, draped over the mantle, or made into a wreath, evergreens always add a traditional Christmas feel to your home.
Amaryllisis a perennial favorite holiday plant. They’re elegant and simple with dramatic flower bracts, which makes them a classic central element for a Christmas centerpiece. Because their stems and leaves are tall and slender, amaryllis won’t block your view of the happy faces around the table!
Paperwhites are another classic Christmas bulb that compliments amaryllis well. They’re also tall and slim, but they feature beautiful bunches of white star-shaped flowers that complement the voluptuous, colorful blossoms of amaryllis.
We often associate floral arrangements with warmer days, but there are tons of beautiful flowers that work very well with Christmas decor. Classic red and white roses, or red and white carnations, have a decidedly Christmas-y feel when paired with greenery. Holiday floral arrangements combine nicely with sprigs of eucalyptus, ivy, or holly.
Tiny potted living evergreen trees are delightful both indoors and outdoors. You can get different varieties and place one in each room of the house, or use them to line your front walkway. It’s fun to decorate each tiny tree with a different theme. Strings of tiny fairy lights make them just as romantic as a full-sized tree.
Our absolute favorite live decor has to be our Table Top Grinch Trees. Combining living cedar greenery, a cute pot, and some adorable ornaments, these fun evergreen designs are always a bestseller. We also hold seasonal workshops in which we show you how to create your own unique Whoville tree. These stunning arrangements keep on living right into the new year if you keep them watered. Sign up for our upcoming class on December 4th to learn how to make your own. If you can’t make it to this class, we’ve got so many others coming up featuring ideas for live holiday decor, including:
You can sign up for any of our workshop classes online or in person at our garden center. By the way, if you’re really set on making a Grinch Tree but can’t make it the workshop on the 4th, let us know! You can always come to the Holiday Creation Station workshop on the 3rd instead, but if we get enough interest, we may consider adding in another Grinch Tree workshop for our friends in Des Moines!
Festive evergreen boughs are the foundation of so many gorgeous holiday arrangements. They show up everywhere in your seasonal decor—from bouquets to wreaths, planters to garlands. Not only are evergreen cuttings beautiful, but their scents are hallmarks of the season. The only downside is they tend to dry out extremely fast and start dropping needles all over your floor.
So, how can you keep your beautiful natural Iowa evergreens vibrant and crisp all season?
Here are a few quick tips:
Buy them fresh. The sooner you can purchase greenery after it has been cut, the better. The longer boughs sit in the open air without water, the faster they dry out.
Choose boughs from evergreens that grow easily in Iowa. Try Eastern White Pine, Red Cedar, Balsam Fir, Common Juniper, and Yew.
Keep them outside as long as possible. The cold weather will help maintain their dormancy and keep sap moving through them as slowly as possible, helping your greenery to stay greener!
Soak cuttings in water before you create your arrangement. If you’re going to create an arrangement with fresh boughs, give them a good soak first. Cut evergreen stems like you would fresh flowers, then let them sit in a bucket of water for 24 hours so they can soak up as much water as possible. Even wreaths should be soaked. If you can, lay your wreath flat in a few inches of water overnight.
Spray greenery with an anti-desiccant. Anti-desiccant spray, also known as anti-transpirant, helps to lock moisture into needles and branches. You can pick up an anti-desiccant at our garden center. Giving your greens a good spray before you start arranging will help them retain moisture as long as possible.
Keep arrangements in water. If you’re creating an arrangement in a container, make sure the stems of the evergreens are submerged in water. Keep them in a vase or a bucket of some sort inside your planter. Check the water level daily; evergreens are thirsty things.
Mist evergreen cuttings daily. Especially indoors, evergreens will dry out much faster than outside. Give them a good spray over every day so they can soak in a little extra moisture.
Keep your finished arrangements in the shade, away from heat and direct sun. Direct sunlight will cause them to dry out faster. Being too warm, or located too close to a heat source, will also accelerate dehydration.
If you’re using lights in your arrangement, use LEDs. LED lights don’t produce heat, whereas incandescent lights get very warm and dry out your evergreen needles.
Consider adding non-traditional greenery. Rosemary, boxwood, and potted ferns can add a touch of brilliant greenery to your winter decor, and they last quite a bit longer than traditional evergreens. You could also use potted evergreen trees and shrubs in your decor, which could then be potted out into your yard in the spring.
If you’re not quite sure how to get started making an evergreen holiday arrangement, join us for one of our upcoming classes! You’ll learn from the pros how to make a variety of different Christmas-themed arrangements. You won’t believe how easy it is to create a stunning holiday arrangement for your home!
“I like being able to tell people that the lunch I’m serving started out as a seed in my yard.”
– Curtis Stone
One of the best parts of summer is growing your own fresh fruits and veggies right in the backyard. Meals never taste more delicious than after a fresh harvest. Save the trip to the grocery store and bring your own produce section home, only an arm’s length away! Here are some of our top choices for new edibles in Iowa this year.
Gigantic Verde Tomatillo
These small, husked cousins to the tomato are packed full with flavor and are staples in Mexican cooking. The Gigantic Verde Tomatillo variety brings more delicious flavor and excitement to the table than its predecessors and tomato cousins. The larger yields, fruit, and juicier sweetness of this tomatillo makes it the perfect flavor for a salsa verde to bring freshness to your favorite summertime snacks.
Plant your Gigantic Verde Tomatillo in full sun against a trellis or stake to keep fruit off the ground. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, throughout the season for the best-tasting fruit. Harvest your tomatillos when they feel firm to the touch and the husks have broken open slightly. You know when they are ripe as their green flesh transforms to yellow. Eat them right away by removing the husk, or leave it on and your tomatillos will stay fresher longer!
Brandy Boy Tomato
An awesome beefsteak variety, the new Brandy Boy Tomato is a tasty way to change it up this year. This tomato is a cross of the heirloom tomato Brandywine and Better Boy. The result is a tomato that has a delectable sweet and tangy heirloom flavor, but with better disease resistance and a tidier growth habit. Try them in a homemade pasta sauce or even diced into a delicious bruschetta!
Tomatoes need plenty of sun and moisture to grow. Plant them in rich, moist soil and keep them well-watered throughout the season. Mulching plays an important role in growing tomatoes for both moisture retention and protection. Tomatoes’ delicate roots can be prone to many problems, including rot if damaged, so protecting them is key. Grow them against a stake or tomato cage for big, juicy fruit and harvest when they are heavy and firm to the touch.
These perfect patio grapes are a cousin of grapes we often find in our houses in a tall, stemmed glass. Their mouthwatering, crisp, sweet flavor will probably taste similar to many wines! Homegrown grapes are a decadent treat all summer. These grapes got their start in vineyards and have been perfectly designed to fit in a patio container for delicious flavor at your fingertips all season.
Prep your pot with moist, well-draining potting mix with an organic, slow-release fertilizer for an added boost. Plant your Pixie Grapes in full sun with a small trellis to support your grapevines as they grow. You’ll know they are perfectly ready with a quick taste-test – sweet means just right!
We’re all familiar with our big, bushy broccoli varieties with short stems and thick stalks. Breaking tradition comes the new Artwork Broccoli. These little bite-sized broccoli heads harvest piece by piece, rather than as one, large head, so the flavor is always fresh day-of. Their long, flavorful shoots are just as earthy and sweet as the tops, making the whole thing amazing for every broccoli recipe, especially stir-fries.
Artwork Broccoli needs full sun and consistently moist soil to grow. Plant in a rich, well-draining soil and mulch to keep moisture even all season. Harvest the central crown of the broccoli first – the top of the stalk – when it reaches 1” in diameter. Do this first and enjoy the sprouting of tasty shoots all along the length of the stalk throughout the summer.
Dragon Roll Pepper
These popping peppers offer a slightly spicy, yet sweet flavor with a bit of smokiness and have become a culinary delight at farmers markets and restaurants across the nation. Starting off fairly mild, Dragon Roll Peppers will mature with a bit of kick, but only about 1/10th of a jalapeno. Just a bit of spice makes these the perfect snacking peppers on their own. They add awesome flavor when diced raw onto fresh tacos or for roasting. They are certainly a talking point of any dinner party.
Plant them in a hot, sunny spot in your garden. Warm and moist soil gives these peppers their edge, so mulching will keep them at top performance. Water regularly and feed them with an all-purpose vegetable mix to give them a boost if they need it. Harvest your peppers when they are still green by cutting off part of the stem.
Pink Icing Blueberry
Named for the blue and green foliage that is dusted with pink edges, Pink Icing Blueberries are the must-have berry for your garden this year. They’ve got adorable foliage that makes them a great accent plant for your garden or patio, and they are rich in delicious berries to enjoy all summer. The big, juicy berries are so flavorful and sweet that you’ll have a hard time holding yourself from eating them all right off the plant. If you can, though, try them fresh with some Greek Yogurt or baked into mouthwatering muffins.
Pink Icing Blueberries will perform best with at least six hours or more of sun. They are self-pollinating, so they do not need another plant to produce fruit, but they will have better yields if you plant more than one. They will need a rich, acidic soil to grow, so having compost or peat moss on-hand for amendment may be helpful. Water them regularly and deeply to provide plenty of moisture to your growing fruit. You’ll know they’re perfect for eating when the little berries are full of color and no longer green.
Enjoy a fresher taste in your kitchen this summer with some irresistible new fruits and vegetables. Add a twist to your cooking, baking, or even just snacking with a flavor for every palette. No matter who’s coming over, you’ll have something fresh for everyone with these top new edibles of 2018!
Our annual gardens are where the hottest of trends get to shine every year. Many years we have our favorites from seasons past holding over to grace our gardens once again, but the temporary nature of annuals has us excited to try new things each year to capitalize on new trends without any risk!
Our favorite annuals for this year bring the best of color, flair, and enthusiasm to our gardens, and with thrilling plants and flowers like these, how could you not be excited about summer and spending some time in your own yard? Every year it seems like our annuals are bigger, better and more spectacular – and 2019 is no exception. These are our top picks for the most popular and successful annuals this year, ready to be brought home to dazzle your backyard and containers:
Canary Wings Begonia: Begonias are an essential staple in the American garden, but the Canary Wings Begonia brings a uniquely colorful twist to set it apart from the rest. These shade-lovers are a phenomenal way to bring stylish blooms to those darker parts of your yard that might otherwise go uncelebrated, especially with the Canary Wings variation. With this brilliant new variety, you can enjoy golden-chartreuse foliage decorated with pops of crimson flowers, that will truly brighten your shady spots from spring through summer. Plant alone or with other shade lovers in a garden or container for a design that is not only on-trend this summer, but confidently commands attention in your garden design.
Simply chose a location with shade or morning sun and provide well-draining soil to get your begonia off to a great start. For such a complex flower, the Canary Wing Begonia is actually simple to take care of as long as you put in the initial effort to give it the light and drainage it needs.
Sunfinity Sunflowers: There’s something traditional and charming about sunflowers that’s hard to improve upon in the garden – except maybe extending their growing and blooming season so that you have the chance to enjoy their cheerful bright yellow flowers for longer. Sunfinity Sunflowers take the winning formula of our favorite sunflowers and give them to us with a newly improved and extended blooming time in our garden! A charming presence in the backyard and an excellent choice to cut and enjoy indoors, these blooms are a simple joy that doesn’t quit.
Instead of a single flower that’s gone too soon on other sunflowers, enjoy over 100 blooms per plant all summer. These flowers have it all and are extremely low maintenance, so you can just plant them and forget about them – although that will be hard to do with their blooms exploding with enthusiasm all season long. Fit for both containers and gardens, there’s always a way to bring these sunny flowers home to cheer up any garden style and design.
“Tattoo” Series Vinca: This new vinca variation brings the artistry of your garden design to life, with vibrant and intense flowers with stunning petals that look as if they’ve each been hand painted. With new colors, like Black Cherry, Black Coral, and Tangerine, offering top-notch color saturation and style in every bloom, you can take your backyard design from charming to professional with the addition of just one popular Tattoo Vinca variety.
Everything that modern gardens look for, the Tattoo Vinca bring intensity, color, and ease of care to your backyard. Simply pick a location with good sun exposure for the brightest and most vibrant results with a healthy plant that is ready to keep working to impress all season.
Superbells Doublette: The Love Swept Doublette series brings a hint of romance to your yard with cascading calibrachoa blooms in blushing shades of pink with lacy white trim. We’ve come to trust Superbells varieties to bring the best blooms for the longest in our gardens for years now, and we’re very excited about this popular new color that we can add to our annual repertoire.
Wonderful for containers, these stunning flowers will spill out for a cascading effect of delicate but bountiful blooms that require little to no encouragement and minimal maintenance to absolutely thrive in your backyard. Plant by themselves in a container as they often grow so successfully that they overtake any other container mates. Thankfully, their beautiful pink and white tones on dainty flowers contrasted against emerald foliage is all the statement that you need for a single container – giving you all the lush garden style you want for this year.
Salvia Skyscrapers: This beautiful bloom offers a uniquely vertical bloom that adds intrigue, contrast, and something strikingly artistic to your garden design this year. Three colors have been introduced in 2019 to offer beautiful blooms in shades of Dark Purple, Pink, and Orange – each prettier than the last and ready to pair with your current backyard style. With flowers towering like a skyscraper far above their foliage you’ll love the unique look and shape of these flowers that draw the eye to them.
Not only stylish, these flowers are also proven to be quite drought and pest resistant, with easy maintenance to make keeping their blooms around a dream. Blooming from late spring all the way through fall, they are practically tailor-made for our Iowa summer season. Try them as a vertical thriller in your containers or as a background element in your landscaping and add intrigue to your garden design this year.
New annuals are exciting ways to keep your garden up to date on all the newest trends. In addition to following hot styles like color trends (we love the focus on chartreuse and coral that we’re seeing this year), picking up some of the newest and hottest annuals on the market is not only a treat for you with the latest developments in ease of gardening, but a style refresher that makes your garden fashionable and up-to-date.
Succulent Crafts: Wreaths, Driftwood, and Frames with Succulents
The Ted Lare Look
Succulents are the gardening world’s current favorite, skyrocketing in popularity due to their unique jewel tones and stunningly symmetrical appearance, but solidifying their place as reigning popularity royalty thanks to their versatility. Succulents are absolutely everywhere, and for those of us that crave a little bit of a DIY touch to our home decor, they are the perfect opportunity to get our hands busy.
Here are some of our favorite ways to get crafty with succulents and create lasting living arrangements that are sure to be the centerpiece and talking point of any room.
How To Make Succulent Wreaths: Wreaths aren’t just for the holidays, and you can use this popular style and shape to make a creative decoration to enjoy all year. Most plants would never be able to tolerate an environment growing vertically on display, but succulents have strong roots and are adaptable enough to flourish – even sideways.
Gather all of your succulents and materials before you get started. Make sure that the wire wreath frame you choose is strong and specifically made for planting live plants. From there, there are a few different methods to choose from, depending on what you’re interested in and what works for your home decor:
Burlap and soil: You’ll need burlap, a wire wreath form, cactus or succulent soil, some fibrous material (like coco fiber), a hot glue gun, and your favorite selected small succulents.
Place the burlap liner inside your wreath form, molding it to the shape. Next, you’ll cut a hole in the center of the wreath and trim off the excess burlap, allowing the fabric to extend a few inches past the edges of the wreath. Fill the wreath with cactus soil, packing it in firmly. Cover the soil with a piece of coco fiber or other fibrous material and use hot glue to fasten everything together to enclose the soil underneath. Fasten the back of your burlap ring to the wreath, and you’re ready to plant.
Use scissors to cut holes in the burlap liner to expose the soil underneath, and then plant the loosened roots of your succulents right into the holes.
Sphagnum Moss: If the burlap method sounds too complicated and messy, a sphagnum moss frame is a great way to tidy the process up a little. It’s also the perfect choice for succulent cuttings that don’t have a great root system yet. You can purchase them ready to plant or you can make your own by filling up a tube of nylon mesh with loose moss. Soak your sphagnum wreath in water before you place it in your wireframe to get started.
Poke a hole in your frame through the mesh liner, and make space for your succulent or succulent cutting. Try mixing and matching bigger and smaller plants to create an exciting display full of color and texture. Once you have your wreath planted, you can tidy up the look by inserting some soft moss in the gaps to cover up the form underneath.
Lay your succulent wreath flat for a week or two after you build it so that the roots have time to establish themselves before their gravity-defying trick of growing horizontally. We also suggest laying your wreath flat when you water it, too, for better coverage and drainage.
Easy Succulent Driftwood Planter: Why buy a boring planter when there are perfectly good spots for your succulents in a cool piece of wood? Filling in all of the nooks and crannies of driftwood with succulents and moss is a great, earthy, and natural display piece that will catch the eye with unique forms and shapes to match its succulents.
You can shortcut and simply hot glue the succulents straight onto the driftwood, but giving them something for a base will help them to grow roots and last much longer. Glue some moss to your driftwood first to create a long-lasting display sure to please.
Finish off your artwork by fastening your succulents to the mossy areas – use hot glue, floral glue, fishing line, or craft wire for a secure but polished look. If your driftwood has any deep holes, you can always fill them with moss and cactus soil and plant your succulent straight into your display. Mist your plants to keep them happy and beautiful for longer.
How to Make a Succulent Picture Frame: What’s inside the picture frame is normally the most important part – displaying photos of loved ones and favorite memories to be treasured forever. We love the idea of making your home personal with photos, but your picture frame decor should match what you love! Picture frames and shadow boxes are actually idea homes for your favorite succulents!
For this DIY, you’ll need a shadow box or a glass panel picture frame with the back removed and some wood to make your own shadow box. We like using frames and boxes made of redwood and cedar, as they’re naturally water-resistant and will hold up more to time spent as an impromptu container. You’ll need hardware cloth, cactus soil, succulents, and cuttings – as well as some household tools, like a staple gun, a hammer, and some nails. Cuttings from plants should be given a few days to dry before you replant them, while whole plants can be planted directly.
If you don’t have a shadow box, you’ll be creating one with your picture frame to give your succulents’ roots space to grow. Staple hardware cloth and insert it halfway into the box. You’ll be using this to push the roots of your plants through to keep them anchored, so midway or even at the top under the frame of your box is ideal. A half-inch grid should be enough to accommodate your stems but keep the soil locked in.
Fill your shadow box with cactus soil by pouring it on top of the hardware cloth and sifting it through the openings. Use a pencil to poke holes in the soil through the square holes in the grid and fill your frame up with plants! We recommend starting with your larger plants and moving toward smaller ones to fit them in more nicely next to each other – even if you have a favorite that you want to make sure is on display the most.
Like the succulent wreath, leave your box laying flat for a few weeks to let the roots start to settle and establish – as well as using greenings clips to keep everything in place. When your plants have rooted, you can hang your frame or prop it up on a shelf for a living display to go along with all of your favorite memories and photos.
Succulents in Troughs: For a display that’s a little more common sense and straight-forward, plant your succulents in a trough. They’re still more creative than a normal succulent container display with old planters, but they are more manageable for people that aren’t sure of their DIY capabilities. Choose from wood, terra cotta, metal, plastic, and even cement troughs for your plants, creating an aesthetic that both matches your decor and draws the eye. You can accentuate your darling succulents while still creating a lasting impact in your home’s style.
Once you’ve selected a trough planter, make sure that it is designed for drainage. If it has a solid bottom, you might want to drill some holes before filling with soil and planting or just layer the bottom with pebbles to improve drainage. Then, all you have to do is fill the trough with cactus soil and you’re ready to plant! These are the perfect planters for a tidy and neat succulent planting design to meet rustic style with your fun and unique container.
Once you start to think about the different and unique ways that you can plant beyond regular containers, the possibilities with succulents are endless. These are just a few of our favorite, creative DIY displays we’ve seen people come up with. Creating your own display is a fun craft, and it’s a perfect way to mesh together your personal style and personality with your home decor for something uniquely you.
Houseplants have evolved. From something you shove in a corner and dutifully care for out of guilt, into living and breathing trendy decor statements. Now very much in vogue, there are so many new opportunities to choose a houseplant that is not only stylish, but also matches your aesthetic and lifestyle. Each one of these plants have unique features that have earned them tons of attention on Pinterest, Instagram, and in the top decor magazines. Here’s our “must-have” list of popular houseplants:
Fiddle-Leaf Fig: Even the New York Times loves and adores this trendy plant, calling it the “It Fig” when the fiddle-leaf graced its pages. The king of trendy houseplant decor, this plant features lush and tropical glossy leaves and a modern style that adds major style points to bright, airy rooms. First popular with the daring interior designers that brought it indoors, it has become increasingly popular and is now embraced by everyone that is on-trend, from Millennials to stylish homeowners. Bold, a deep green, and proud, the Fiddle Leaf Fig is the instant focal point of a room. They aren’t subtle, but just one is all you need to create a signature look.
Beauty isn’t always effortless. Fiddles have also earned a reputation for themselves as picky and finicky, needing just the right light, attentive watering and maintenance, and an aversion to being moved around. They’re famous for their big broad leaves, but these can need a bit of TLC to really make the plant the statement piece that you want. This bold beauty is definitely worth the effort you put in, but fiddles are best suited for plant owners that are confident in their abilities.
Snake Plant: Known commonly as Snake Plant, the Sansevieria is getting more and more popular by the week. One of its main draws is its striking vertical appearance and squiggly growth pattern, which makes it an ideal choice for adding personality to tight spaces that other plants might not fit. Not just convenient for corners though, the sleek lines on this plant bring an architectural flair to your home, along with air-cleaning properties. You’ll love having the presence of a plant to help make the winters easier to manage, but you’ll also love this plant’s ability to clear up airborne toxins like benzene, carbon dioxide, and xylene.
This plant doesn’t need a green thumb, meaning that it’s a great fit for anyone that falls in love with its beautiful lines. They’re drought-tolerant, thrive in nearly any light level except too much direct sun, and don’t need to be transplanted often. Keep their leaves wiped down from dust to have them looking their best.
Air Plants: For those who love decorating with plants but don’t have a lot of space to spare, air plants (also known as Tillandsia) are anything but your grandmother’s houseplant. They come in hundreds of shapes, textures, and sizes, all with a totally unique style. Because they grow without soil, creative and DIY plant lovers have taken to these plants enthusiastically, choosing to display them in stunning arrangements and designs. From tiny glass terrariums and cases to living driftwood sculptures, this is the most on-trend plant for people who embrace their plants by styling them in creative ways.
Air plants are practically designed to be experimented with, and with a little bit of nontoxic glue, you can make a living sculpture out of nearly any Tillandsia species. Take one home and you’ll have a conversation starter that will thrive with minimal care. While they don’t need soil, they still aren’t able to absorb everything they need through their pores and will need regular water baths. Mist them daily, but you might want to consider soaking them in water and allowing to drip dry every few weeks to keep them looking their best. Drip dry your air plant upside-down to prevent water from forming mold at the base of their leaves. With minimal care requirements and a unique living habit that opens a world of possibility, it’s easy to see why these plants are taking over the interior design world.
Zebra Plant: We’ve seen succulents rise in popularity over the years, but the trend isn’t stopping, and people are starting to focus in on particular varieties of succulents and their unconventional looks. Zebra plants, also called Haworthia, are miniature and slow-growing plants that are some of the coolest-looking and trendiest succulent species around. They’re easier to care for than their other succulent relatives, and they look sharp in any display with their namesake crisp white lines running across the plant.
Needing bright and direct sunlight and very little upkeep, these petite plants are perfect for sneaking into your decor in unexpected places, from cute terrariums to mounted on fridge magnets. These plants stay quite small even after years of taking care of them, so find a spot for them that you can be sure that you get lots of opportunities to view them up close to appreciate everything about them that makes them so noteworthy and trendy.
Boston Fern: Some people still picture the fern as a Grandmother’s plant, meant for stuffy houses full of antiques, but we’re excited to prove you wrong and show just how on-trend and fashionable these plants actually are. While the plant variety is prehistoric, these tough plants help you out by pulling startling numbers of toxins from the air, and their leafy and bed-headed appearance gives them a unique charm that we’ve embraced once again. Perfect for the vintage-inspired designer and the modern decorator alike, adopting this plant is the perfect way to stay up-to-date with today’s design must-haves.
If you don’t want to clean up any dropped leaves, some other ferns might be better options for you, but we still love the old-fashioned charm of the Boston Fern. Thriving in well-lit rooms, these plants need regular watering and a little humidity to look their best. This plant will love you back with its powerhouse air-cleaning ability and retro charm.
Houseplants are an essential part of so many interior designs and it’s easy to imagine how you can build them into your home design. The world of plants is so diverse, there’s a trendy plant for any home, any lifestyle, and anyone. Fill your home with these lush green beauties to instantly freshen the look of any space.
Pathways are a beautiful and practical addition to your yard. Creating a pathway can impact everything from the overall look of your yard – think rustic cobblestone versus manicured concrete pavers – to the way the eyes (and the feet) move through the space. They provide a base to build an entire landscape around, leading guests past your prized flower beds and into an inviting seating area. We have installed hundreds, if not thousands of stone and paver pathways in Central Iowa. Below are some material options to consider.
Pathway Materials: A new pathway can be beautiful and functional for your front or back yard. We have installed a large variety of pathway materials, starting in 1982 when Ted started the business. All the material choices below should last for decades with little maintenance needed along the way.
Natural Stone – Natural stone has a beautiful, appealing quality that attracts a lot of attention. This timeless material is still our number one seller with pathway installations. Our teams have worked with natural stone for decades, so we can install it relatively quickly in a variety of colors and sizes to fit the surroundings. Natural stone lasts a long time, so you will not have to worry about changing it for years.
Man-Made Pavers – Concrete can be poured in place, or added with concrete pavers to keep the same style without compromising durability. Solid and strong, concrete pavers are nice and easy to shovel on snowy days, making it a low-maintenance and convenient option for our Iowa landscapes. There are many paver choices to choose from when installing new pavers. Our design team can help you choose the right fit for your home.
Gravel – Gravel is a budget-friendly option that is available in a range of colors and shades to match your vision. It may need to be maintained and topped up from time to time, especially after the winter melt, but a gravel path is a great place to start for landscapes on a budget. It installs quickly, making for a less costly option in the backyard.
Clay-Fired Brick – This classic masonry look is timeless, warm, and charming, but while this option still exists, we seldom use it anymore. We can now achieve the same look with updated man-made concrete pavers!
Pathway Design: While a narrow path makes a lovely accent for a garden, we encourage our clients to consider functionality first. We recommend a width of about 48” and no narrower than 36” for front entry paths. Wide landings are needed where the pathway meets a doorway, fence, or seating area. A nice, wide path will allow couples to walk abreast, or a wheelchair to pass through with ease, and a nicely-sized landing provides an attractive foundation for porch pots or other decor.
If the path is expected to be a high-traffic area, a straight line is the most efficient option. However, for residential design, we typically let the overall design of the space dictate the shape and flow of the pathways. Modern designs are more likely to be linear and classical designs are more likely to be curved.Either way, we put a lot of thought into the function and visual appeal of pathways. The correct design should accommodate foot traffic, while also allowing enough space inside the pathway for planting and other design features, such as fountains or stone accents.
Informal paths in the backyard or other low traffic areas only need to be 24” wide, unless they are accommodating lawn mowers or other maintenance uses.
Decorative Accents: Once the shape and layout of the path has been designed, it’s time to customize the look. No matter what aesthetic you’re going for, it can be enhanced with the addition of landscape lighting, arbors, trellises, retaining walls, and just about anything else you can imagine. When we design a pathway, we think about everything else that surround it, to make sure your front or backyard looks amazing.
Gardens are exceptional companions to pathways, as well, and offer a fantastic contrast of hard and soft elements in your landscape. When considering placement and design for your pathway, we think about your garden and how best to make it fit into your aesthetic for a complimentary piece that works together in the space.
If you’re brand new to the world of landscaping, a pathway project is a fantastic first step for transforming your yard. Once the pathway is installed, you’ll begin to view your entire outdoor space in a new light. Then, with a little added structure underfoot, the landscaping potential of your property can begin to take shape.
Ted Lare Design Build specializes in Des Moines Landscaping Design and Installation.
We cover a wide range of Central Iowa. We have installed landscapes for many years in all areas of the Des Moines metro, including West Des Moines, Des Moines, Waukee, Clive, Urbandale, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, Indianola, and Norwalk.