Window box at peak

The window boxes on the front of my house are filled mostly with coleus, Persian shield and potato vines. Right now it looks the best it’s looked all year.

Left, in 2004. Right, in 2009. You can see how the baskets & boxes bring the garden right up the side of the house, integrating both house & garden. If I were even smarter, I’d have some of the plants from the baskets & boxes repeated in the garden itself.

The window boxes (there’re two boxes side-by-side, giving the impression of one long window box) are made of recycled plastic deck boards, the kind of stuff you’d build a deck with. I built them a couple years ago. They were a bit more expensive with the plastic deck stuff. I knew, built of even pressure treated wood, they’d rot and get weak at points and I’d have to just rebuild them. And pre-made boxes would not fit the width of the window, nor be the right scale for the house. The plastic ones are so wimpy, and can’t easily be painted to match the house colors.

I’d love to put a window box on that very top, small, oval-topped, attic window, but I know I won’t be good about watering it. And nothing looks worse than dead plants in a box.

From the office window. Blends in nicely from this view of the front garden. There are also more boxes (the cheap plastic kind) attached to the railing of the front porch with the same coleus, Persian shield & potato vines..

They’re put together with bolts. No nails. Nails would just pull from all the different weights and forces on such heavy planters. They’re up there on cleats that are solidly attached to the house. The brackets you see are purely decorative.

The flaw in my plan? That recycled plastic wood is friggin’ heavy! It took all my might to get both planters up there. I did it though, all on my own. Inch by inch up a ladder. Twice.

Cone baskets on either side of the door. A couple neighbors up the street had their front porch baskets stolen. Idiot robbers tried selling them to people down our end of the street. I was paranoid someone would steal these, so they’re pretty wrapped with wires on their hanging brackets. Whoever wants to steal them will have some work to do to un-engage them from their holders.

I like coleus because I get constant color without having to worry about bloom times or deadheading. And they are pretty transparent about when they need water. And they bounce back quickly if I haven’t watered them for a while. Watering is pretty easy from my office window. Overflow usually gets the baskets below a good soaking. And any mail in the mailbox.

The cone-shaped planters just below the window boxes on either side of the door are planted with the same things, with the addition of a brown spiky grass for even more height.

The lightning-shaped lightning rod is now a few years old. I drew the shape of the lightning and a local sculptor built it for me. Hard to tell here, but at the ends of the splayed wires are very large colored glass marbles.

In the last three years we’ve had a new roof, new windows, new lightning rod, and this summer, a new paint job. Same color green, but with the addition of a dark green & the purple. Wish we’d pushed the purple a bit more. I may go back next summer and paint the window boxes and a few other surfaces in the purple color.

Do you have window boxes? What’s your experience?

I have a long-time garden blog, a popular garden on America's largest garden tour, and have co-written a book on garden design titled, "Buffalo-Style Gardens: Create a Quirky, One-of-a-Kind Private Garden with Eye-Catching Designs" When I'm not doing all that, I am an advertising designer always out looking to design things to promote your business. Look me up at #jcharlier.

0 comments on “Window box at peak

  1. You do have lovely array of coleus… and plants in window box really add character to such a beautiful house…. Cheers ~bangchik


  2. I love this look!!!! You could put a type of Sedum up at the top window, it'd be okay it you weren't good about watering it..


  3. Great looking boxes and baskets Jim and your newly redone house looks great. I love the combo of plants you've got there. Yes, push the purple more next year! To answer your question, I have absolutely no experience with window boxes.


  4. MarinDale

    Love your window boxes!What size and how many drainage holes are in each box? Also, could you please explain in more detail how you used the cleats to attach the boxes to the house.ThanksMarinDale


  5. So glad I stop here this evening for a visit. Luv the photos….especially that purple trim. I don't have flower boxes but always admire them and yours are outstanding.


  6. Bangchik,Thank you!Darla,I'm not sure even Sedum would do well up there. But I may give it a try.Jean,I see you're a purple-pusher too. I'm down with that.MarinDale,Each box is 4'long, 8″wide and 11″deep. There are three drain holes, evenly spaced on the bottom, there is weed barrier stapled to the interior to let water drain, but not soil. For the cleats, which is how most cupboards are hung, I took a 2×4 and cut a 45 degree angle down the center of the board. I ended up with two, 8' long, roughly 2″x2″ boards which got cut in half to have 2 sets of 4' cleats. One got lag-screwed to the house, the other, bolted to the frame of the window box. When hung, they mated up perfectly, distributing the weight of the flower boxes evenly across the entire 2×4. This way I didn't have to bolt or screw the actual window box to the house, in the event I wanted to take them off for painting or something. It's hard to describe, but the best photo I could find online of a cleat can be found here:http://theheadlemur.typepad.com/remodeling_for_geeks/2008/10/a-cabinet-hanging-solution.htmlDonna,So glad you stopped too!


  7. those are terrific! your house is so pretty, and the plants and garden now compliment it so well! i don't have window boxes, as the front of my house is shaded by evil trees. i unfortunately cannot currently change the situation. no one can see the front anyway, so i've a nice shade garden. i like the cleat idea! very clever design of plantings. i saw some great coleus in a planter in town i'll have to photograph and show you…


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