Nothing makes me spring into action like my need to cover up stuff like this - it doesn't exactly set the bar for outdoor living, does it? All that white siding and fencing drove me nuts. It's vinyl too, so I couldn't paint it.
Planting the narrow little bed along the fence wasn't enough to make all that white recede into the background. When we first moved into the house, I arranged groupings of containers to keep the walls from glaring at me, but the patio was small (11x18') and there were so many of them that it our patio looked sloppy and crowded. After years of moving them around in various configurations, I decided to simplify the container theme by using fewer and going bigger. I figured that would take up less space and I'd be able to plant more in them. I started looking around for square or rectangular containers I could leave outside all winter and fit against the walls of the house.
I couldn't find any that were the right size or shape though, so my husband and I decided to build them. He designed and constructed three rectangular (19" wide x 2 feet tall) cedar planters to fit the length of each wall. I wanted to plant vertically too, so we added these 6 foot iron trellises. Phil drilled holes into the back edge of the container and slid them in.
I didn't want to have to replant them every year so I used small shrubs and perennials, which provided nice textures, foliage color and intermittent flowers. Just to give you an idea of the plants, here are a few of the combinations I put together. One was in partial shade, and I planted fothergilla (upper left). It's not really a small shrub but it's only there temporarily - I rescued it from my garden as it was being dessimated by a groundhog. I added some annuals to give it a little color-the purple leafed beauty in the middle is Tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea' aka Purple Heart (commonly known as Wandering Jew). The spiller in the front is Euphorbia hypercifolia 'Breathless Blush'
This one was got more sun. On the left is Spiraea betulifolia 'Glow Girl' -the gold leaves are just starting to pop and it contrasted nicely with the Heuchera 'Black Taffeta' I put next to it - a tough little perennial that looked good all summer. In the front a green and gold variegated sage picks up on the gold theme.
We finished off our cover up by adding this small copper fountain. Now that ugly outlet serves a purpose and it's out of my sight!
The sound of trickling water was just the right touch. A much better look don't you think?
Replacing the cement floor is next on my list, but this colorful vinyl rug will do for now. Meanwhile, dining outside has improved considerably.