Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY Living Succulent Picture

As most of you probably know by now (due to the fact that I'm constantly posting pictures on facebook), the hubs and I (with lots of help from family and friends) have been working on our "outside" for quite a while now. The yard, the landscaping, fixing water run-off issues, reworking the deck, creating a patio space, making new flower beds, adding retaining walls, and making probably close to every other possible change you could think of! :) this has been a loooong and wild process and it is still not done!  I have thought many times of writing a blog post about this process, but every time I think about it, I am overwhelmed.  There is just way too much to cover!  I have a ton of pictures on facebook, though, of our progress if you want to see it, and I think when we are completely, 100%, for sure done with this thing, I am going to make one (probably very long) blog post to showcase the before and after. haha! :) But, even though we are still not quite done yet, we are definitely seeing things take shape now.  Most of the major changes are getting finished up and that means we are finally able to start the fun stuff! YES!!! :) The little details! Decorating! Furnishing! and all those fun little (and not-so-little) DIY projects I see floating all over Pinterest!  And that is what I'm writing about today!

I love DIY!  And now that I've got some great outdoor spaces in the works, I decided to take on a project that I knew would be fun AND contribute to the space! :)  I love succulents! They are gorgeous, so easy to work with, low-maintenance, and hard to kill!  This means we are a match made in heaven!! Haha!  I have been seeing projects left and right that use succulents and knew that I wanted to do something with them! And I can tell you that this project probably will not be my last with them!  They are so cute!! I decided to make this Succulent Living Picture which I originally saw here, and I am so so pleased with how it turned out!

This did take me some time to complete! If I had a solid day to work straight through, I might have been able to do it in a day, but I don't ever have that much time on hand at once, and I don't think I know anyone else who does either! lol!  So by just grabbing a few hours here and there to work on it, this project took me about 5 days to finish!  Let me tell you how I did it!

First I started with the frame!  I got this 14x18 wood frame from Hobby Lobby at 50% off for $11.00.  I wanted to get one that didn't have any glass or backing because I don't need them for what I'm doing!

This frame probably is not made to be outdoors, but then again I'm not sure if you can find many that are...  However, I am going to be putting it in a spot that is fairly shielded from weather, and plus it's already very rustic and weathered-looking so if it does get a little more weathered, it will only add to the look.  I'm sure eventually it will decay and I'll have to replace it, but the same goes for the succulents.  Over time they will grow and get too large for the frame and I'll have to pull those out, too, and replace them.  It's just the "nature" of these things.  (hahaha. pun!) :)

Size-wise this turned out about perfect for the space I have.  I may do a smaller one at some point to complement it, though, because I think these pictures would look great in a grouping!  An even bigger one would be gorgeous, but these babies get REALLY heavy once you put the potting soil and plants in them and that definitely affects the ease of hanging the picture.
So anyway, then I made a shadow box to attach to the back of the frame.  I needed to do this so that I had a large enough area to fill with potting soil so the succulents can root!  I created this (with a little help from my hubby) by cutting up a cedar 1x4 we got from Lowes for about $6.00.  

I wanted to get a 1x3, which would have made my (husband's) job a little easier, but they didn't have any made of cedar, which I wanted because cedar is a good wood to use outside.  So I got the 1x4 and cut it into a 1x3 by taking an inch off the width and then I cut each of the pieces to match the dimensions of the inside of the frame and screwed them together to make this:

And then I (my hubby) screwed that onto the back of the frame like so:

and I ended up with this:

I then stained the outside of the shadow box with some "cool grey" stain I picked up at Lowes for about $6.00 to match the front!

I cut some 1/2 inch hardware cloth to size and stapled it in right behind the frame.  I also got this at Lowes and it cost about $10 for a big roll of which I used probably like .5%, but hey now I have it and I can make a kajillion Living Pictures if I really want! :)  This was the perfect size wire because the 1/2 inch holes were small enough to hold in the soil once I got the frame together but large enough to "plant" the stems of the succulents between.

Then I had to add a backing to the frame so that it could hold potting soil! For this I used cement board.  

The website that I was using as a guide suggested 1/4 inch plywood, but I didn't have any of that on hand and I didn't want to buy a whole sheet.  What we did have (thanks to my father-in-law) was 1/4 inch thick cement board! It doesn't rot and is water resistant, so it worked out perfect! So we attached that to the back with some screws and voila! Finished frame!

At this point, Chad and I took a Trip to Lurgan Greenhouse, which is a local nursery that I love love love! and picked up quite a few succulents!  Since we are still getting our landscaping done, I have very few plants already on hand, so I had to buy all of these, which is where I racked up most of the cost of this project! I ended up using almost all of the succulents I bought here and had to run out to Lowes to finish up which really frustrated me because I spent about the same amount of money there for about a sixth of the amount of succulents I got at Lurgan!  But anyway, even though I used most of the succulents, I saved everything left over to plant so I can divide them later for other projects! :) But, back to this project!

I then added potting soil (a lot, so much more than I thought I'd need) and also I used a bag of cactus soil that I mixed in which succulents like.  I just used my garden scoop to pour this over the wire and then brushed my hand over the wire to shake it into place.  This took a quite a while longer than I thought it would! There was a lot of dirt to put in there! lol! And then I started adding succulents.  

To get them ready I just clipped them off at the stems and pulled any leaves off the stalks that would get in the way when planting them.  I poked a hole in the potting soil with a pencil, stuck the succulent through the wire, and then used the pencil to push the dirt in around and make sure the plants were secure.

I just made up the design as I went.  I started with my biggest succulents and only used a few of those because I wanted them to be eye catchers and just started filling in from there!

I tried to keep things in small groups for the most part and I just tried things until I got a look I liked.  It took me a little longer to do this part than it probably should have because I kept changing things to make it the way I wanted it! Sometimes I would redo an entire section until I got it right! :)

But it was so worth it because I just love how it turned out!  I can't wait to do another succulent project again! But I have so so many other ones I want to try out, too! I'm sure you'll be seeing many more of my DIY projects in the future!  Unless they are horrible failures! lol! :)

It has to lay flat for at least two weeks so it can form some roots to hold the succulents in place, though I did risk leaning it up against the brick to get an idea of how it will look on the wall!  I can't wait til it's ready to go! :)


  1. Wow! This is beautiful! I've never seen anything like this before. What a neat project. You go girl. :)

    1. Thank you!! I had a blast doing it! :) Definitely want to do another one in the future!


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