I’ve mentioned it a few times here on the blog already, but last summer we had water restrictions here in Salt Lake City thanks to the drought. This summer is looking equally as dismal, in regards to water use. Our county already has restrictions in place and we’re only allowed to water our lawn, garden, or florals (basically any outdoor plants) for 20 minutes once per week. Given our hot & dry climate, it had me rethinking our outdoor planters, garden, and landscaping this year. In an effort to keep things looking nice, well manicured, and seasonally appropriate for spring & summer- I decided to mix in some faux outdoor plants this year… a first for me. Whether you’re trying to conserve water or you’re just looking for something that will look great all season long with zero maintenance, this post is for you. Click through for a big roundup of my favorite faux outdoor plants, along with my tips for making them look more convincing.
I’ll start by sharing my front porch planters. The day after we got our water restrictions, Emmett asked if I could nix our front porch planters altogether. Every year I plant hydrangeas with cascading ivy or bacopa, which requires a lot of watering. It was something we’d have to water every other day to keep alive. They were also kind of a pain because, oddly enough- we don’t have a water hose that reaches our front porch, so we’d end up schlepping gallons of water through the house to the porch (usually spilling along the way). It wasn’t ideal, but they were beautiful and worth the effort, in my opinion.
As you might guess, I didn’t love the thought of having nothing on the front porch. I enjoy having plants and welcoming arrangements that flank our entry doors for each season. As a compromise and an effort to conserve water this summer, I decided to deep dive into faux outdoor plants. Believe me when I say, there are a lot of bad ones on the market. I ordered a bunch, sent the majority of them back, and kept searching until I found a winning combination (which are pictured throughout this post). I hope my legwork helps you narrow it down, if you’ve also been on the hunt. I landed on these hydrangea topiaries for our porch… which are actually on sale right now (I paid full price).
I also ordered some boxwood topiaries to fill some of my garden planters- which would otherwise hold tomatoes or veggies in our garden. They are pictured below flanking the shed french doors! Those are actually from the Tuesday Made shop, but they’re special order. If anyone is interested in one, just shoot me a message, email, or comment and I can set up an order for you… full disclosure- they aren’t cheap (they’re in the $400 range), but they are UV resistant and as realistic as it gets. I don’t have them listed in the shop because shipping is a bear, but I could have them sent directly from our floral shop to you. Anyway- ready to see my finds and top selections?
Click directly on my finds in the collage to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below to shop…
01: wispy grass // 02: rosemary spiral topiary // 03: snowball hydrangea bush // 04: faux boxwood balls // 05: mixed fern hydrangea // 06: triple boxwood topiary // 07: lavender // 08: tapered boxwood // 09: orange tree // 10: terra cotta boxwood topiary // 11: cyprus spiral topiary // 12: juniper // 13: snowball hydrangea topiary // 14: boxwood greenery balls
Unlike indoor faux plants, the outdoor faux plant arena can be tricky and tough to navigate. Like I previously mentioned- I ordered a LOT (to test) and was disappointed in most. However, there are some beautiful options that seem durable and have high ratings- they were just tricky to dig up and discover. I’d love to hear your favorites from the roundup! Would you ever consider implementing or supplementing with faux plants outdoors? There are definitely some pros… they can be used year-after-year, they require no maintenance, and they look their best all season long.
One thing to note about faux outdoor plants (that is probably self explanatory)– I think they look best in a potted vignette. I would not recommend planting these in the ground. Think of them as a seasonal accessory rather than permanent landscaping… just like you would annual flowers and greenery.
My 5 Best Tips for Going Faux Outdoors…
1 // Consider price & quality. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to faux plants. I truly discovered this once opening our shop and scouring the market for the best of the best. I found that the really inexpensive options ended up looking really cheap. I definitely confirmed that higher-end plants that included increased price tags were much more realistic looking. It makes sense- better materials are used, they’re handmade, and are constructed to last. I also wanted assurance that if I’ve spending more on something that is more convincing, I expect durability. Fading was a big concern of mine, so I carefully read reviews.
2 // Plant faux as you would a regular, live plant. Use heavy beautiful planters, add real soil, mulch, moss, or rock to complete the look. Above all- fluffing is a must! A faux plant out of the box never looks good. It requires some effort up front to bend branches, shape leaves, and mold blooms to your liking in an organic way that looks realistic, as opposed to being smooshed or too calculated. Think of how a natural plants grows toward the sun and try to mimic that when styling!
3 // Mix in a few low-maintenance or water-wise live plants for the most convincing aesthetic. I used vinca and ivy (both are “water-wise” labeled and easy to care for).
4 // Think big picture. Style them in an intentional vignette so there are other elements to admire. A faux plant standing alone by itself is more likely to look faux when it’s the only thing to fixate upon. Consider implementing exterior lighting, outdoor rugs or doormats, pretty door hardware, other plants, patio furniture, etc.
5 // Be strategic. If you’re spending a chunk of change on faux plants, the benefit is that you can use them each year. That means caring for them. Clean them at the end of each season (think of power washing, using a leaf blower, or simply scrubbing with soap & water), properly store them, and when they’re on display- it’s best if they’re not in full sun 24/7. Strategically place them in a good area- like on a covered porch or a spot that is partially shaded throughout the day.
Am I saying I will never have live plants on our front porch or patio ever again? Absolutely not. Obviously my preference would be live plants, but this year- I think mixing a little of each is the best of both worlds for us. Who knows, given these are low maintenance, maybe they’ll become my new go-to. I’ll keep you posted! I do think they’re a great alternative… especially if you’re also trying to conserve water or don’t have the time for upkeep, pruning, and watering. I will say, the one and done planters have been very convenient so far- like the hydrangeas on our front porch. Our neighbors have already complimented them and thought they were real, so I’m calling that a win!