faux boxwood topiaries

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, Decorating, Gardening48 Comments

I have been a fan of topiaries for years and am always drawn to buy them, even when history tells me I won’t be able to keep them alive for more than a few months.  In our new house, my studio is a sunroom, so it is a sanctuary for plants during the winter and I’m having more success with plants than I ever had before.  The light in the studio couldn’t save these topiaries I bought last summer when we first moved in, though.  I didn’t bring them in before the first frost and they were toast.  Even if I had brought them in before the frost, I couldn’t handle the smell!  They stunk up the studio and I was almost glad the frost got them, so I had a good excuse to pitch them.

Over the winter, I put a pair potted of evergreens next to the door and they hung on until mid-April when they were looking like two sad trees, dried to crisps.

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

I have been contemplating an artificial option, but they are expensive and I hadn’t found any that looked convincingly real.  During Way Day at Wayfair, though, I found a pair that had good reviews and they weren’t dinky, scrawny, or an unnatural shade of green.  At $155/each, they weren’t cheap, but when I averaged the money I spent on real plants that eventually died and had to be replaced, I would come out ahead after the initial investment.

So, I went for it.  I ordered a pair of the Darby Home Co Boxwood Topiaries

And they look really good!!  I am so impressed with them.

Upon close inspection, they do look like plastic plants, but when you see them from the sidewalk or even as you approach the door, they look like healthy boxwood topiaries.

The branches can be fluffed and adjusted, so you can make them look freshly trimmed or a little more wild and natural.  I think having a few rogue branches makes them look more realistic.

They come in a nicely weighted pot, but visually, it is ridiculously small for the size of the topiary.  I fixed that by putting them in some planters I picked up on clearance last summer.

I’m planning on filling the pot with small rocks and maybe even topping it off with mulch, but we’ll see how the rocks look.  They will add more weight and prevent the topiaries from tipping over in the wind.

I’ll let you know how they wear and weather over time.  That will be the ultimate test.  I’m hoping they’ll last for many years.

I also bought a couple of live flowering plants to fill the concrete urns flanking the bench.  They look so pretty!

  

The curb appeal stops there, though!  Our garden beds are in serious need of an overhaul.  We don’t have a single evergreen, so it looks like we’ve had a bunch of twigs stuck in the ground since November.  The weed blocking fabric is coming up and we have a dead rose bush and those rocks… oh, what a pain!  They are supposed to be low maintenance, since you don’t have to replace them each year, but they look messy to me and how in the world are you supposed to remove old plants/bushes and plant new ones?

The whole thing just isn’t working for us, so we’re going to remove the rock, weed blocker and just about everything else.  Some of the bushes are nice, like the peonies under the front window, but I want to move them to a different place.

We’ll replace everything with a more traditional look – evergreens, hydrangeas, some perennial ground covers, space for flowering annuals, etc.  I’m planning to stick with a green and white color palette, maybe adding a touch of purple here and there.  It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’d like to get as much planting done this spring, so we can enjoying watching everything grow over the next few years.  We’ll focus on the front and left side of the house this year and then we’ll work on the right side and back next year.  (Unless we just get on a roll and want to keep going!)

As I’ve shared with other projects, we’re trying to pace ourselves with this house and break up projects into manageable chunks.  It reduces the risk of burnout and decision fatigue and it also gives us a chance to live with the projects we’ve done so far and make any adjustments, if needed, before moving forward.

I think in this age of TV home makeovers, it’s good to remember that working on a home isn’t a race…

faux boxwood topiaries

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48 Comments on “faux boxwood topiaries”

  1. The topiaries do look real and your entry looks great. I’m going to take a look at what’s available as I’d like to add some “green” that will live inside our covered entry and, hopefully, the birds won’t try to take up nesting in them. Thanks for the info.

    1. Funny you should mention that! Someone in the reviews said they a bird nested in their faux boxwood topiaries!

  2. Just a suggestion…but I would put a pair of antique shutters on either side of your large front window. It would frame the bench and concrete planters nicely. And bring some life to the neutral siding. Just a suggestion…after all you are the master, we are by mere students…hahaha

    1. That’s a good idea! Yeah, I really struggle with the color of this siding. It is not what I would’ve picked at all and, even though it’s neutral, it reads very pink. I agree that shutters would help, but perhaps it would look odd to just have them on one window? I feel like we’d have to put them on all the front windows.

      I don’t think I could just lean shutters or they would blow over (it gets pretty windy here.) Maybe even moving the topiaries to flank the bench and use the concrete urns with flowers next to the door? Anyway, good thoughts! Thanks!

      1. I love shutters, especially old weathered ones. But I don’t think they’d work on your lovely front windows, because there’s not enough room. I’ve consistently read that shutters need to be the same size as the window they are beside. The reason is that, even if they aren’t functional, it looks like you could theoretically shut them and cover the entire window…, Goid choice on the faux topiaries. The little pots they came in are funny. The ones you put them in are perfect. Your ideas for finishing the effect are spot-on.

  3. I LOVE the flowers, we just bought a bunch of that same kind. It doesn’t feel like the white holds up visually against the color of the siding.

    Love your ideas for the landscaping. I have never understood rock “mulch”. Not only are they hard to work with, the rocks absorb heat. Its fine for us Minnesotans in early spring, but come summer it makes the bed dry out quicker and it’s harder for the plants. Remulching is a pain, but adding new mulch one of my favorite parts of spring. The gardens get a refresh and all the new spring growth pops against the fresh ground cover.

  4. Yep, those topiaries are great! As for the landscaping, it is classic “done wrong.” That horrid black edging, landscape fabric, rocks, and bushes planted too close to the house are what so-called “professional” companies do but are completely wrong for what real, live, God-created plants want and need. Feel free to rip everything out and start over! Sacrifice the bushes if need be! New ones are not that expensive and you can do it right, from the start. Always leave room for the mature size, even if it looks stupidly small to start. As a long time gardener and occasional garden designer, nothing irks me more than people getting “professional” jobs done that use all these expensive and aggravating features that are at best, worthless. A garden can only be lovely if the person loves it and takes care of it, mindfully, and working in partnership with God.

    1. Yeah, the black edging will be going away as well. It is popped up in many places and just doesn’t look sharp. (At least not in our case. I’ve seen it look nice before when it’s installed really well.) We are going to get a quote for poured concrete edging, so it’s done and will look good for many years.

  5. The new topiaries rock! Your color palette for the front beds sounds very pretty. Can’t wait to see the progress. I need to do something with our front beds so bring on the inspiration 🙂

  6. We moved to a small house 3 years ago and the gardens were a mess. We ripped everything out and started from scratch. We have a budget so it’s been a slow work in progress. A few boxwoods, a new hydrangea that changes color as the season progresses ( I’m so excited to see the plant in bloom) and new perennials. We are still working away at it. Your garden will look lovely I’m sure. You just have the touch. I was at a shop in Lancaster, Pa last weekend and had the opportunity to see a demonstration on how to use your milk paint. I love the new color Aviary and HAD to come home with it. : )

  7. Landscape rock and weed barriers should be banned by law. They are hideous and add nothing to a garden, in my never to be humble opinion. It does look like most of the front garden could use some serious purging. At this time of year, many gardeners are splitting their perennials and you might find some handy freebies from your neighbors. I’ve given away about 350 lbs of hosta this past 2 weeks, and that is just a good start.

    1. Yes, our front garden needs some serious purging. Exactly! I think it’s all going to be purged! I just want a fresh start. I actually have a lot of hosta around my house, so I can split my own, but it’s a good suggestion to see if I can get any other varieties!

  8. After I was scared by a snake in my plant on the front porch, I have swore off the plants anywhere near my doors. Those look great and you do come out ahead if you don’t have to buy replacements. Thanksgiving morning I stepped out the back door to take the dog out and there was a snake on the step. I about had a heart attack. We live in S. FL so there are not bushes or plants for me in my path to the car.

  9. Thank you for the reminder that working on a home isn’t a race. My husband and I moved into our house a little over six months ago, and the previous owner was an older lady that loved low maintenance yards (aka: rocks). There are rocks everywhere and it saddens my heart that my yard looks so disheveled and forlorn. It isn’t a race though and once the inside is finished, we will tackle the yard. All in good time, all in good time. Your topiaries look beautiful-and I might have to pick some up myself, just so I can see some GREEN again!!! xoxoxo Shawna 🙂

    1. I totally hear you about the yard looking sad! Thankfully, the previous owners did care for their yard and grass well, but the house being vacant for a year did take a toll on the garden beds and most of the changes I’m making are about preference.

      Yes, your home will get there. One step at a time!

  10. Peonies don’t like to be moved so I would let them bloom and see if you can work around them. They make a green bush for the summer. If you want to move them then it is done in the fall. You can tell I love them! Good luck.

    1. Good to know. Maybe we can work around them this spring and try moving them in the fall as you suggested… I love them, too, just not in the front of the house.

  11. Do Not move those peonies unless you don’t want any blooms. They hate to be moved and will take 3 yrs to start blooming again once they are moved – that is IF they like the new spot! They are very finicky

    1. Well, they might just be pitched then. I don’t like them in the front, because they are pretty for such a short time. I love peonies, but I want them in the back of the house. Oh well, I can always plant new ones.

      1. As a garden designer who has acquired many peonies over the years (from folks who did not want them when redoing their landscape), I’ve moved many peonies, sometimes even in the spring. Find a place for them in the sun and move them. Don’t pitch them! New ones will take time to grow, too, and that’s $ you can spend elsewhere in the garden. Such beauty, peonies!

  12. We bought a house with the white rocks 3 years ago. Every time I try to plant something, the holes are filled with rocks. It looks like the original owner kept adding rocks every year. We were told not to use mulch due to the possibility of termite tunnels being hidden. I planted low growing ground cover that covers the rock and keeps the weeds down. I’m considering rubber mulch to cover the remaining rocks. We have a snakeskin in the rocks, so we know someone likes the rocks to help them shed.

    1. Interesting! We had a lot of issues with termites (not in our home, but it our area) in PA, but I haven’t heard of it being as much of an issue here. Maybe because of the cold or maybe just because I’m in a newer neighborhood? Not sure. I have asked neighbors about the rocks to see if there is a reason why mulch shouldn’t be used in this area, but I’ve just been told it’s lower maintenance and considered an upgrade from mulch. I have seen other homes with mulched beds, but the rocks seems to be more common. I’ll ask at a nursery to make sure mulching is okay in this area.

  13. We live in Ohio and have cold winters most of the time. I love birds nest spruce for a nice evergreen hedge. They can stand the cold winters. Also serviceberry trees low maintenance and nice. As well as red – twigged dogwood for color in winter and fast growing .

    1. Yes! I actually found the birds nest spruce in my search for ever greens that will do well in my new zone. I love the look of them, so it’s nice to know you’ve had good experience with them. Thanks!

  14. Fair warning – peonies don’t really like to be moved. IF you do, though, keep them planted shallow. Good luck – everything looks very nice.

    1. Oh, good to know! Well, they may just end up getting pitched and I’ll buy new ones. I don’t like them in the front, because they have about two weeks of glory and then don’t look very special! 🙂

  15. Love the faux topiaries…I’ve been wrestling with the same thing -real (sooo pretty) or faux (sooo easy!). These might just be the nudge I needed! I’d fill the empty area of the planter with anything heavy (could be a brick or something) and THEN cover with either Spanish Moss (Hobby Lobby) OR pine bark mini nuggets or mulch!

  16. I guess I just see previously planted items differently. The porch of my 95-year-old home is surrounded by spirea bushes, planted by the family who built the house. I hate spirea. I think it is old-fashioned, common, and not nearly as attractive as a few other shrubs I can think of — but I stewed and fretted this spring that our unusually deadly Easter freeze might have killed them off. They’re part of the history of my home. Caring hands planted these old-fashioned shrubs a very long time ago, and these woefully inept hands will do their best to help the vision of almost a century ago continue. I never pass them (and they’re currently in full bloom) that I don’t think of the original owners of my home. I am the custodian of their long-ago vision. I like that feeling.

  17. Peonies can be moved- just wait until fall, as Donna suggests. You may not get blooms the following year, but I’ve never had a problem with that. Make sure the “eyes” (what will be the new leaves for next year) are no more than 2″ below the surface in the new hole, and try to keep the root ball intact as you move it. As for mulch, it is a great amendment for soil as it breaks down. If you get a good shredded hardwood mulch at a local nursery, there will be no cellulose in it (the inner structure of a tree), which is what termites feed on. Before you add new mulch, always cultivate the old stuff if you can. This breaks up the “crust” that forms, and introduces oxygen, so that it will break down under the new stuff- and the “fluffing” makes the new mulch go a little further! And be sure to mulch that transplanted peony to help protect it during the winter!

  18. Some plant info that I hope leads you to success!

    If you have weed blocker there is a reason for it! That’s not a normal thing in a planting bed. It costs extra so it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t needed. I advise consulting a pro first. (Landscape designer/architect or installer.) Also, there must be a special hand rake or other tool for scraping back the rocks/gravel that lay on the weed blocker. You simply cut the weed blocker with strong scissors where you want to dig and put as much back as you can.

    Many plants need sunlight from the top, the way the sun gives sunlight. You could keep the plants on your porch going by putting them out in the sunlight at least once a week. Just make sure it’s the kind of sunlight that they like: direct, partial, or shade. Make sure they aren’t dry before you do that because sun and wind deplete moisture from plants.

    Also, make sure that Spring is the best time for planting in your area. It’s not the best everywhere. The first thing a bred plant needs to do is expand its root system. But In Spring plants are stimulated to grow and bloom. This is often too much for a plant with an inestablished or small root system and it dies.

  19. Artificial plants, like your topiaries, come potted small on purpose. First of all it is cheaper and easier for shipping. Both from the country of origin but also from the store or catalog. Everyone then can satisfy their own taste of final container and style. And depending on if they are for inside or outside, the final finish….. heavy rock or light moss. It also keeps the cost down on a pair( even though it will cost you more when you add the container!). FYI

  20. Another peony lover here who will chime in….I love peonies (I have about 25 bushes in various gardens around my house) and I hate when their blooms end after just a few weeks. So, to avoid having gaps in the gardens where the peonies are located, I plant other things in different heights that bloom in different stages so that there is typically always something in bloom to catch the eye. Bulbs for early spring, creeping phlox nearby (which are short and provide good green when done blooming), Batista (nice purple blooms) and provide greens and seed pods for birds when done blooming, some easy maintenance re-blooming roses, blueberry bushes, lady’s mantle, butterfly bushes, to name a few. Also, boxwoods, hostas and I LOVE ornamental grasses – they look great in fall/winter. I am in New England so we may have similar planting zones.

    I look forward to your house & garden updates!!

  21. Looks awesome! I just ordered – earlier today before reading your blog – the Wayfair Darby 48” boxwood with three leaf bundles. (What are those called – topiary clumps? ) I was holding my breath wondering if they will look ok and your post encourages me that they will be perfect on our front porch in the planters where I can’t seem to keep anything alive through our Texas summers. Thanks for posting your front porch topiaries!

  22. I love the topiaries. So pretty. I hope they don’t fade on you. Do you have direct sun on the front side of your home? Ive had some faux plants (not topiaries) that have sun faded and now I’m seeing new outdoor faux plants that are sun-proof. It’ll be nice not to have to trim and shape them. Enjoy!!

    1. Sue,
      That’s a good thought and we’ll see. Hopefully not! The porch is in full shade all day, since it’s north facing, so I think they will be okay.

  23. As a gardener, I love the sage advice from everyone. So, thank you everyone for your shared knowledge.

    I wonder if the height of the topiary’s would lend a beautiful balance while filling the siding space on either side of your bench. And, might there be an interesting black something you could set the lovely concrete urns on in front of your side lights?

    Someone needs to develop a peony that lasts longer!

    Diney on Camano

    1. Yep, I realized I had the topiaries next to the bench in the fall, so I might move these new ones there.

  24. Hey. I love the faux greenery…and when you’ve mixed in a bit of real plants…it looks all the better! Wondering where you found your pillow with the bunny (on the bench)? Sorry if you already mentioned it…

  25. Your peonies will probably not survive a move & even if they do they will ‘sulk’ and refuse to flower. BTW I have gravel over weed repressing fabric in my front garden which has been there for almost 30 years. Tomplant new stuff if you want to you just move the gravel away from the site, make a few snios in the fabric, pop the plant in & rake the gravel back in place. Weeding? Either just pull each out as usual or water with a weed killer or better stil white vinegar! I have topped mine up recently – it needs to be quite deep.

    1. Maybe that’s the issue…our rocks aren’t deep enough. Well, either way, I like the look of mulch better for this yard, so we’re going to switch to that.

  26. The flowers on the porch are bacopa. They are one of my favorites as they grow well and don’t attract slugs which are a menace to gardens here in the Pacific Northwest.

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