Aim For The Sky With These Easy Projects to Add Vertical Interest to Your Garden
P sst! Want to know an insider secret? Adding height is a great way to transform any outside space in a jiffy. A top trick loved by every garden designer, a vertical post guides the eye upwards, making your patch look bigger and feel airier. And whether you choose to weave a bright line of bold-toned posts through a border, build a high-rise bug hotel or create a sculptural trio of slate spires, all of these skyward projects will add style and character to your plot, too.
MODERN SLATE STACKS
To make these stately monoliths, you’ll need three metal rods, a drill and a fair bit of patience but, boy, are they worth the effort! Enchanting on a sunny day when towering over a gravel garden planted up with lavender and santolina, they look even better when wet. Depending on the number of stacks you wish to make, you could use leftover slate tiles, broken up using a hammer and chisel. Check out local Freecycle sites, or ask local salvage yards for reclaimed broken roof slates. Decide upon the perfect spot and hammer in three 6mm metal rods. Using a drill fitted with an 8mm masonry bit, select slate chips, starting with the widest first, and make a central hole through each. Slot each in turn over the rod, repeating until the whole length is covered. It takes time but is strangely satisfying and hugely therapeutic work!
SPIRAL FLOWER STAKES
Forget hanging baskets, this trio of trailing petunias sitting proudly on top of candy-striped posts will bring a whole lot more character to your garden. The tumbling blooms attract bees and butterflies, adding to the colourful display. Choose your colours and get painting. Use exterior wood paint such as Wilko’s City Slate for a fade-proof and long-lasting finish. To create a candy-striped pole, paint on a base colour and leave to dry overnight, then wrap low-tack masking tape in a spiral design over the top. Add a second paint colour to the timber and carefully remove the tape once dry. Decorate the pots too – simple stripes, spots or single colours all look great. To assemble, hammer the posts into the ground, using a spirit level to check that they are straight, before fixing on the pots. Do this by placing a snug-fitting plastic plant saucer into the bottom of the pot and placing both on top of the post (it’s much easier if you ask a friend to help). Carefully screw down through the centre of the saucer and the pot’s drainage hole below, into the top of the post. Tighten until both are secure. Fill the pots with lightweight container compost, and add the petunias.
HIGH-RISE BUG HOTEL
Attract pollinators to your patch and add a splash of colour, too, with this easy-to-make insect house. This project calls for some spade drill bits but they’re super-cheap to buy. Using a tenon saw, cut a wooden fence post to the height you’d like the hotel to be, adding an extra 40cm to be sunk into the soil for support. Next, drill four large holes into the front of the post. These are made by using two spade drill bits of different widths – 32mm and 25mm are ideal. Paint the post and fill each opening with short lengths of bamboo. These can be snipped to size using sharp secateurs or a fine-toothed saw. Finally, dig a hole and sink the lower 40cm of the post into the soil, securing with Postmix.
Quirky, textural and made from reclaimed treasures, this soaring planter will quickly become a garden favourite. Costing next to nothing and requiring very little upkeep, it’s a great way to round up mismatched flowerpots and put them to good use. Sink a 6mm steel rod into the ground and carefully slide the pots on top, threading the rod through each central drainage hole. Position the largest container at the bottom and fill with a mix of grit and compost before placing the next pot on top. Repeat the method, angling each pot to create an interesting shape. Use the compost to provide support, creating room for creeping sedums and colourful houseleeks, before topping off with a neat terracotta sphere.
Simple but oh-so-effective, a line of vibrant poles adds a dash of colour and interest all year round. Weave them through a grassy border or line them up sentry-style along a path with clumps of blue fescue grass or heuchera. Choose a paint colour that echoes the tones of surrounding blooms or provides a contrast, like these vivid pink poles that pep up a cool- hued border. Spacing them 40cm apart, with graduating lengths, works well, and remember that 40cm of each pole will disappear into the soil. Pressure-treated wooden tree stakes will last longer. Use a tenon saw to cut the stakes to length, cutting one end to an angled point. Sand off any rough edges and give each post a couple of coats of paint. Allow to dry. Place each pole in position, point downward, so it can be easily hammered into the soil. A club or sledgehammer is the best tool for the job.
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