Front porch planters

I felt adventurous: Having the rain barrel set up made my watering chore a lot easier. So easy, in fact, that I decided I could handle a couple more planters.

While I turned the back porch planters into a salad bar, the front porch was asking for something slightly more ornamental.


But before I got to the growing part, I had to prepare a spot that would hold planters.

At some point, the previous owners poured a crude concrete cap with a round top over the graystone wing walls that frame the staircase to the left and right.


This is a perfect location for planters, but I first had to cut and grind the round concrete top into a flat surface and mount a pressure treated board on it.

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The board bought me some extra width and served as the base for the next step: Extending the architrave profile from the column bases all the way across the wing wall. I had purchased some cedar boards that I milled and assembled into a matching profile. I chose cedar in the hope that it will age and turn a similar gray color to the limestone.


Mirroring the existing profile required a fair bit of planing to match up all lines. Thanks to our friend Job, I had become a proud owner of a handful of quality planes, and knew how to keep the sharp. And let me tell you, a good tool is half the battle!

I was doing the milling and planing close by, in front of the house, and always had a few kids stop by wondering what I was doing. But once I whipped out the plane, I had a real audience with jaws wide open. This was something the kids had not seen before.

I asked them to pick us some of the shavings and smell it – smell the cedar. That caused a real sensation. I think every single kid took some shavings home with them. I put the rest in containers and placed it in our closets.


To make sure the planters don’t get blown or knocked over, I assembled two boxes (also cedar) that would hold them in place.

All that was missing were the actual plants. I opted for Nasturtium.

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These are very ornamental, yet edible. We love that nutty, yet spicy taste of pragmatism!


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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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