Quick and Dirty Tips for Plant Containers

Monday, June 24, 2013
It's not a rule that plants have to go
in traditional planters. 
I found this basket
for my zinnias at Salvation Army for 59 cents.
Let’s bust up some myths about container planting. Let’s make the containers themselves interesting and fun.

I know I’m forever telling home sellers and homestagers to stifle their decorating personalities when they are staging a home. 

But I’m loosening the rules for outside decor. Outside, the colors can be brighter, the mood a little quirkier, the message more personal.

I’m not suggesting you plant a toilet with petunias for the front yard, but containers for summer plants and flowers can be attention-getting in a good way – the way that helps sell your home. Here are some examples.

The basket above will be good for a season or two, but these metal planters will give you
years of service. If they aren't originally designed for plants, you'll need to punch holes
for drainage, or insert plastic pots and then make sure the pots don't sit in water.
These plants sit near my front door under the eves, where they won't get waterlogged. 

Here is another of my favorite metal planters -- an old copper tea pot. 
If you use metal containers for plants, it's best to keep them out of 
direct sun so the roots don't overheat and cook your plants. 

An old wheelbarrow with a leaky tub makes a perfect planter.
I keep mine in the middle of my Scent Garden, where I can move it
when the man comes to fill the propane tank that I don't like looking at.
Do you have an eyesore that a planter can disguise?  
Upcycled boots are roomy enough for different plants. Succulents are a good choice
because they have shallow roots and are not demanding. Drainage is usually sufficient, and
just look at all the personality they can give a small garden space! Photo: Lushome

If the boot you are planting is rubber like this one, add holes to the sole.
Details like this in the garden are like your accessories indoors.
They can cause people to slow down and appreciate your home. 

Although technically not a container, this hanging basket stuffed with
Spanish moss is as good as a container of flowers for all the
interest it adds to my friend's garden .
Yes, she lives in an old church.  

You don't need an old, rusty, clunker bike to stage it as a planter.
Any bike, any size, any style will do as long as it has a roomy basket,
which you can line with landscape fabric or cocoa fiber matting. 
Make sure the bike is secured so no one pedals it away.
because it will be irresistible. Photo: David Spencer.

Get the look, get the book

Container plants offer so many advantages to the home seller that they can't be ignored or omitted if you want to get smart about selling a house. 

I hope I have sparked some ideas that will have you hunting for original planters for your summer flowers. If you look around you will see other possibilities suitable for your locale and home-style -- shells, wooden buckets, watering cans, or chairs with missing seats. Please pass on the bed frames, old tires, bathtubs and Volkswagons. 

For more ideas on how to stage your home or the home of others, download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar.  

Make This Simple Outdoor Fountain

Monday, June 10, 2013
The pleasant sounds of water splashing is one fine
way to introduce buyers to your home for sale. 
I was hypnotized once. Really. By a trained hypnotherapist. She was starting her practice and she accepted trades for a session. I re-gifted her a food processor and she gave me a one-hour session.

It was so relaxing I didn’t want it to end. She planted the suggestion that whenever I heard the sound of water, I would feel relaxed and happy.

Well, that was a safe suggestion! Who doesn’t love the sound of a mountain stream, or waves breaking on the shore, or a bubbling fountain?

They make CDs so people can chill or meditate to these sounds.

Want to Hypnotize Buyers? 

You can welcome people to a tour of your home with that happy, relaxing sound. Just put a bubbler fountain near your entrance. It’s a snap to make one from a simple, inexpensive pump and items you have around the house.

I bought my pump at Lowe’s in the garden department where they sell pool and fountain equipment. Pet stores and the aquarium department of Wal-Mart also sell submersible pumps, but they are not designed for outdoor applications. I purchased the model that pumped 50 to 80 gallons per hour and it cost about $17.

The more expensive pumps are for larger fountains and in fountains where you want a “lift,” like an elevated cherub or turtle that spouts water. I wanted to keep things basic for this tutorial. No lift, no hose connections, no pricey statue.

The procedure is easy. Collect what you need, add water, place your pump underwater, hide the cord with pretty accessories, and throw the switch.

A bubbler tickles my little frog friend's belly. I  surrounded the fountain with
some colorful annuals to ground the arrangement and hide the electric cord.   

Some tips for success 

Place your fountain where the sounds will be noticed. If you have a front porch, that's a perfect place. If you have an inviting deck or balcony with a view, that's another opportunity. Of course, it will depend on where your exterior electric source is. Do not run an extension cord.

Locate your fountain where you will walk by it yourself regularly. If the water evaporates or splashes too much, the water level can get so low that the pump’s motor will burn out.  You’ll also want to make sure that leaves and other debris don’t clog the small filter on the pump.

If the container for your pump is deep, there is less chance it will run dry. The entire pump needs to be underwater.  Make sure your vessel is watertight.

Choose decorative items to hide the electric connection. Create a pleasing arrangement by adding details that echo a common theme or color scheme. Aim for a refreshing look by using plants and other natural elements.

Don’t be afraid to tell a story or set the stage for what awaits visitors to your home. Your staged fountain should be a tease for what’s inside your staged home. A little whimsy or some local color can set the tone. 

Pay attention to the sound you create. The best sounds are created from water that splashes down onto a water surface, so arrange your pump to splash on water, not against the side of your vessel or onto rocks.

Anchor the pump securely to it doesn't vibrate. Make sure the vessel is not vibrating or it will sound like the fountain is humming instead of bubbling. The pump will be noisy if it is out of water, too. You don’t want to hear that sound.
This plastic shell made the perfect container for a fountain on the deck. I hide the pump
under the conch shell where it squirts a steady stream of water between the coral clusters.
The drops of water under the plastic shell are from rain that wouldn't quit. 

Here's the Easy Steps

Decide where your fountain will be. Add a few inches of water to a container
that won't leak. Press the suction cups on the pump onto the bottom of the container.

The cord can be concealed behind plants and other props, but you can sometimes
tape it in place with tape like this white duct tape. Plug in the unit and
set the small dial on the pump so that it pumps at full capacity.  
Surround the pump with rocks, but keep the spout of the pump clear. 
Make sure the rocks are clean so dirt won't clog the pump's intake. 
You may have to adjust the angle of the pump to get the best "squirt direction."

Once you've created a setting for your tabletop fountain, your work is done.
But be sure to check your fountain daily and change the water weekly.
Or, you can add a few drops of bleach to keep the water fresh.  

Now you know how easy it is to cast a relaxing spell on people who come to tour your home. Maybe even hypnotize buyers into making a purchase offer!

Get the look. get the book.

For more tips on staging your own home to entice buyers, download my $4.99 eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and for Top Dollar. There’s so much you can do yourself without spending big bucks. Is your home staged to sell?  

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