Mid-Century Modern(ization)

Redefining modern for a family-friendly home

We be Plantin’ Fools


Alert the media — I now have five indoor plants.  Five!!!  For those of you wondering what the big deal is, that’s five more than I’ve ever had before.  So, fingers crossed that I can keep them alive.

Anyway, I’ve told you all about the indoor planting bed we have just inside our front door.  When we bought the house it was filled with musty bark and a bunch of fake plants that were heaven knows how old.  Not the most appealing entrance for sure, but we had other things to worry about so it took us almost a year to tackle this corner.


It took about five hours over two weekends to completely clear it out and fill it back up again — this time a bit more tastefully.   Kirk spent nearly two hours one Saturday hauling all the bark out and depositing it at the rear of our property.   I was aware that the bed had an odor — one that had definitely become more pronounced as the temperatures rose with the onset of summer (thus why we finally decided to tackle this project), but it wasn’t until we started shoveling all that bark out that the smells became completely overbearing (or we had just grown used to it. I shudder at the thought!).  Some of  the bark seemed to be perfumed.  Some of it smelled like cat pee.  Maybe it had been sprayed to cover the pee smell?  Not sure, but it was gross.


I started off with scoops. It became rapidly apparent that scooping with Tupperware would take me DAYS.  After I filled a garbage bag or two and had barely made a dent, Kirk got smart and grabbed a shovel. I think he filled that bin a half a dozen times.


Also gross was the thick coating of black dust that covered every surface in our home in the aftermath.  Oh my goodness.  If we would have had any idea that the dust from the bark would travel like that we would have set up some plastic protection over the doorways or something.  Instead I spent the next several hours sweeping, mopping and dusting.  My least favorite activities.


But at last the bark was removed, as were the yellow plastic bags that the bark was once packaged in that appeared to be lining the planter.  The original metal liner was still in place — well, about 20% of it anyway, the only pieces that hadn’t rotted away.  Kirk took it to the dump along with the eight faux plants.


One of our biggest surprises was how huge the fake plants were when viewed in perspective!  I mean, really!


They don’t look that bad in this photo, but they were.  I briefly considered posting them on Craigslist, but I just wanted them gone. They were gross.

When all was said and done, we were left with this stinky, cleaned out pit.  I sprayed it down heavily with Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover and that seemed to get rid of any lingering odors.


The next weekend my mom came down and we hit up the local nursery.  The staff was very helpful and, after asking all the important questions, like, did our planter have drainage (No) or natural light (Not really), and was I interested in annuals (Hell, no) they recommended a few plants for our space.  We went with two Chinese Evergreens and one Dracaena, some new pots with built in saucers (important since our planter has no drainage), and finally a bag soil and a little fertilizer.

Back at the house Mom and I worked on preparing the planter for our river rock.  There was no way we were filling the entire planter with river rock (that would have cost somewhere in the vicinity of $800-$1000!) so we started brainstorming how we could eat up some of that unused space.  I originally thought of Styrofoam, but it was also much more expensive than we anticipated and the stores didn’t have nearly enough in supply anyway.   On a whim I drove around behind the store and, by the dumpster, I found dozens of discarded boxes.  Free boxes.

It took a while, I ain’t gonna lie.  My mom and I cut down six giant boxes and refashioned them into 22 custom cubes. It took a lot of patience, a good bit of math, and a roll of packaging tape, but eventfully we had raised the bottom of the 11″ planter a full 9″.   See?


We also pulled an extra shower curtain that I had in the closet and laid it down over the boxes to prevent spills from soaking the boxes when we water the plants.  Where each plant would sit I cut an X into the plastic then lowered the plant into the hole I made.  These plants are not full grown — they will nearly double in size over the next several years — so it will be nice to watch them fill in.


Finally, we poured 250lbs of Mexican Beach Pebbles over the top and called it a day!


I still need to touch up the paint from the rim where we pulled the rusted liner out, but hey, we need to paint 98% of this house so that little bit doesn’t really bother me.   I’m calling ‘er done!


I love how much more light comes in through this sidelight now that the fake ficus is gone.  This space was so dark and dank and now it’s bright and welcoming … as an entry ought to be, yes?


Author: Olivia @ Mid-Century Modern(ization)

I am a wife, mother, and writer. I am also a crafting, furniture-refinishing, home-designing nut.

4 thoughts on “We be Plantin’ Fools

  1. Unexpectedly gross and messy…but a great outcome –this looks SO much better. And using those boxes saved $$$. Nice work :)

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