Garden Clippings

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FUNCTIONAL: This bench provides a place to pot without bending over, and it has shelves for storing tools and showing off favorite container plants.

Mike Lang

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Whether it's because of freezing conditions in the winter, or the hot days of summer, there are times of the year that make it difficult to garden. But we never have to quit landscaping.

Landscape is not all about plants. In fact, there are some great landscapes that don't include any plants. Every landscape is supported by nonplant material. Whether it's a concrete sidewalk that provides an edge between a planting bed and turf areas, or a wooden deck in the backyard elevated above the plantings, near the canopy of trees.

This spring, when there wasn't much growing, I looked around at my backyard garden, trying to imagine what changes I could make. I kept coming back to the large, nondescript wall of the garage that the patio butts up to. I kept wondering how I could make that area more attractive? Finally, I came up with the idea of outdoor furniture.

A potting bench was just the ticket. And it would be functional, too - I could pot without bending over and getting a backache. It would also be a nice piece of the patio landscape, with the height of it breaking up the bare wall. The shelves would hold my tools, and the top would hold container plants for display after the season's potting was finished.

I searched for the look I wanted, then made a trip to the lumberyard, and soon I had my potting bench. Then I decided to add a few more nonplant items to the landscape.

An old, decrepit children's wagon became my mobile planter. I added a cedar box to it, and it works great for moving annual plantings from one spot of the garden to another.

I wanted to start planting before the annual plants were ready, so I decided to plant lettuce, spinach and onions in the wagon this year. I call it my mobile salad garden.

I bought an antique, pressed-back chair at a garage sale and transformed it into a plant stand. I cut a hole in the seat, allowing a pot to fit halfway down through it, then I added a coat of wood sealer.

Adding items such as my wagon and chair, and other items that provide a unique focal point in the garden, such as gazing globes, can add interest and functionality to any landscape.

Some day this summer, when it's too hot to plant, look around at your yard. Imagine what you could do to spice up your landscape. Besides adding interest and beauty to a landscape, I discovered that it was actually fun.