Friday, October 19, 2018


Years ago we had a family website which we gave the above name. It sounded so much better than Half the Work is Getting Started. All that was on our mind at the time was the tremendous job that faced us in designing and building the garden. It was quite daunting, but we chipped away at it until it is what it is today. Those latin words have been rolling around in my head recently. And they are good words for me to remember because I have a tendency to let projects sit for a while and then finally when I get around to doing them I realize they didn't take too long at all and their competition gave me untold satisfaction. Case in point, the ever growing pile of styrofoam containers waiting to be turned into garden troughs.

This is what I call a feel good project. Most people put no value on them once they have served their initial purpose and frequently toss them out in the garbage. Or they may put a little value on them and sell them for dollar at a garage sale. It makes me feel good that I am repurposing and saving them from the landfill as well as providing a home for one of my succulents.
It's just getting started on the project is half the battle. The first step is to brush the outside surface with a wire brush and it is one messy job. This time I took myself outside and sat on the edge of the driveway in the shade, mask on and large sheet of plastic on the ground to collect all the bits. It's impossible not to get it all over everything. A few holes drilled in the bottom assured good drainage.

I try to make them more realistic by cutting the tops unevenly and brushing more off in some places. That done the surface needs to be sealed. In the past I used a barbecue lighter and a candle but this time I treated myself to a small heat tool. It costs around $12 dollars after using a 50% coupon at the local craft store.
Next job was to paint. I made a better job of painting this time by giving each box a complete undercoat of gray. The same paint I used to paint the potting shed cupboards-an alkyl latex paint, which I happened to have on hand. Doing this makes sure that the whole surface is protected as well as easier to faux finish.

These are the paints I chose for the finished look.

And the brush I use. It's a good idea to use and old brush with rather open bristles so you get the right paint effect.

I squeezed a little of the paint into a tray and dabbed the brush lightly picking up a little of each color and using a stippling technique applied to the painted surface until I achieved a stone-like effect.

When dry I applied a light coat of satin finish sealant. I have never done this before but decided this would probably extend their life.

Now the fun bit. Planting up with succulents and of course a few pieces of rock. it would be easy to go out and buy new plants but I have so many pots of small succulents to chose from and of course plenty of rocks.

Of course most troughs are made for alpine plants but that is just not going to work here with our hot, humid summers.

I still have the larger ones to plant up but they will soon be together in the new area of the garden called the Troughery.


  1. Very impressive. And for a project that you say took little time, there certainly were a lot of steps. But the end result is wonderfully realistic. Congratulations!

  2. Well done! Lightweight containers are easier to handle, and it's a nice way to recycle something, too.

  3. I am so glad you shared this...I have several containers ready to be transformed!

  4. I thought these were hypertufa pots at first. They're fantastic! I hope you're not getting too much rain - the news reports this morning had me worrying about all of you in Central Texas.

  5. You are so right about putting things off, Jenny. I have several garden as well as photography projects that I created in my mind but have not made them a reality yet. They sure keep my mind busy! Thank you so much for posting these. I love the techniques and the end results are wonderful. I love your creativity!

  6. How clever! I have never seen this done. Now I'll be keeping my eyes open for styrofoam...

  7. What a great project! I've always admired planters like those. I could totally do this, if I could get past the squeaky sound the styrofoam makes.