Using Outdoor Artificial Plants and Trees in Landscape Design
Outdoor artificial plants and outdoor artificial trees have become a hot new item in the artificial foliage industry. Outdoor foliage is a realistic solution for consumers and businesses that have a myriad of problems with the upkeep of live plants and trees. Outdoor artificial trees and plants are infused with UV inhibitors that protect them from the sun’s harmful UV rays that cause fading. This year we have received an unusually high number of phone calls from customers wanting to invest in artificial outdoor plants, trees and topiary. The most common reasons businesses call in range from slashed maintenance budgets to higher than normal problems with bug infestations in live topiaries. Too often we get a call from a small business owner who has two topiaries accenting the front entrance to their building and every year one of the topiaries dies because of a bug problem. We certainly don’t want to replace all of the live trees and plants in the world, there is nothing like the beauty and smell of a flowering tree in spring time. But we do understand that there are situations where it is impossible to keep outdoor plants alive. We wrote this article to help people understand their options with outdoor artificial trees and plants and different methods for installing them outside your home or business. We’ll take a look at in ground installation, decorative planter installation and artificial outdoor plant maintenance. First let’s take a look at the different varieties of artificial outdoor plants and trees that are available today.
Outdoor Artificial Plant Varieties
The most exciting new designs of artificial outdoor foliage are occurring with plants. We’ve seen an explosion of different varieties and sizes become available this year. The most popular outdoor plants include artificial outdoor Boxwoods and Podocarpus bushes. We are especially excited about the addition of Banyan bushes, Ivy bushes and Rhododendron bushes which we feel are going to add some different design options for landscaping projects. Flowering artificial Bougainvillea, Geranium and Gardenia bushes add the final accent to your patio or pool design.
Outdoor Artificial Tree Varieties
Outdoor artificial trees have been around for quite some time and they are dominated by the outdoor artificial palm tree. Outdoor palm trees have long been a favorite of theme park companies and consumers who want to create a tropical look around their pools. We are excited to see these options expand to include outdoor Ficus, Ming Aralia and Maple trees. Conifers are now available in artificial outdoor Cedar and Cypress varietals also known as Arborvitae.
Outdoor Artificial Topiary Varieties
Outdoor topiaries are a perfect way to add a creative touch to your landscaping project. Topiaries come in many different shapes and sizes including spiral topiary, cone topiary, and ball topiary. Topiary are typically anywhere from 3 feet tall to 7 feet tall in height. Outdoor varieties include Boxwood, Podocarpus, Cedar and Juniper topiary forms.
Outdoor Greenery Varieties
Many people contact us looking to hide a fence or they want to create a living wall for a restaurant. Artificial outdoor Boxwood and Ivy mats are a perfect solution for these applications. They can also be used to build outdoor hedges. And Ferns are a great accent in a planter or the ground surrounded by flowers and other bushes.
Installation of Artificial Outdoor Plants, Topiaries and Trees
Most Outdoor Artificial Plants, Trees and Topiaries can be purchased either potted or unpotted. Potted items are delivered in a weighted plastic grow pot. Unpotted items will be delivered with a bare stem or bare trunk. Let’s focus first on the installation steps for un-potted items.
In ground: Unpotted installation steps
- Measure the height of the stem or trunk you want to be buried underground.
- Dig a hole relative to the size of the base stem or trunk you are installing. For bigger trees and topiary dig a wider and deeper hole than for smaller plants and flowers.
- To help the cement adhere to the tree, wrap a heavy gauge wire around the trunk and leave several inches of wire sticking out on either side of the trunk. You can do this several times for better grip. For smaller plants and flowers you can drive a nail through the base of the stem or wrap a heavy gauge wire.
- Mix your cement and pour it into the hole.
- Install your artificial outdoor plant or tree into the cement, securing it in place so it dries straight up and down.
- There is an optional installation technique you can use for plants with stems. Substitute step 2 above with a slightly shallower hole. Pour your concrete into the hole. Submerge the stem of your plant 2 to 3 inches into the ground below the hole. This will help your plant stay at the proper angle as your concrete dries.
- After drying has taken place, add dirt or decorative mulch around the base of your artificial outdoor trees and plants to give them a more natural look.
In ground: Potted installation steps
- You can choose to have your plants or trees delivered to you potted in a weighted base or you can pot them yourself at home.
- Plants can be potted in an inexpensive container like a nursery pot, or paper mache pot.
- Dig a hole relative to the size of the pot you want to install.
- Place the pot into the ground ensuring that it is level and your plant or tree is vertically straight.
- Cover the planter with dirt and pack the dirt tightly around the base of the planter.
- Add decorative mulch around the base of your outdoor artificial plants to give them a natural look.
Decorative Planter: Installation steps
Installing your trees or plants in a decorative planter can be a great accent around your pool, patio or the front entrance to your home or business.
- The easiest method for installing plants into a planter is to pre-pot them in a weighted base. You can either purchase the items potted or pot them at home in an inexpensive container as mentioned above. This will save you from having to pour concrete into your decorative planter. It is my experience that simply inserting your plants into dirt in a planter will not hold them upright for a long period of time, and wind and rain conditions will cause them to topple over. If you have several plants being installed in a single planter, pot them in smaller pots and the pots can be used to support each other in the planter.
- Once you have potted your outdoor plants you can surround the plastic pot with gravel or dirt to secure it into the planter. I like to pour gravel into my planter then pour dirt into the gravel to ensure the pot is securely held into place. Place decorative mulch or moss around the base of your plant or tree to give it a natural look.
- Caring for your Artificial Outdoor Plants and Artificial Outdoor Trees
The last section of this article takes a look at how to care for outdoor artificial plants. Over time all artificial plants and trees will begin to degrade. New techniques in UV protection will slow down the fading process of the polyblend materials used to make the plants. We have seen outdoor plants and trees that have UV protection last for over 10 years and still look fantastic. To keep your plants looking great we recommend regular washings of your plants. This will help keep oils, dirt and residue from building up on them, which can cause them to degrade faster than normal. If you live in an area where you have normal rainfall, this should do the trick. In periods of low rainfall simply hose down your plants on a regular basis. Leaves and stems may bend over time with rain, snow or wind. You should be able to simply bend them back into the shape you desire if this happens. If you have a taller tree or topiary that constantly bends due to high wind conditions, try installing stake into the ground around the planter or cement to help keep it from shifting in the wind.
I hope these tips and tricks will help you have a beautifully landscaped yard or patio that you can enjoy year round.
About Doug Hopeman