Building a Living Picture

Welcome to the Member Ideas area! This community feature is where our members can post their own ideas. These posts are unedited and not necessarily endorsed by the National Gardening Association.
Posted by @goldfinch4 on
How would you like to have a beautiful living picture in your garden or mounted on a wall outside of your home? It's a quick and easy project that you can do with just a few tools.

I started with an old 8 x 10 picture frame.  If you don’t already have one, check out garage sales and second hand stores.  You'll probably be able to pick one up for less than a dollar. The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the back of the frame and the glass. You'll be left with a simple frame that looks like these pictures.



Measure the inside of the frame (on the back) where the glass rested in the frame and cut a piece of hardware cloth the same size as that opening.  Hardware cloth isn't cloth at all, but a rather thin wire "grid" that comes in a roll.  It comes with various size holes.  For this project I used one with 1/2" holes.


Lay the hardware cloth in that opening and use very small nails pushed into the side of the frame to hold the hardware cloth in place.  I used 1/2" long nails that you can see in the corner of the frame.  I just pushed them in using pliers.


Measure the back of the frame and cut two pine boards approximately 2 inches wide and the length of the frame.  Cut two more pine boards also 2 inches wide that will fit between the long ones to make it the same size as the back of the picture frame.  Screw together to make a 4 sided pine box that will attach to the back of the frame.  This will be the box that will hold the potting mix.


Cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood the same dimensions as the pine box you just made.  Nail the plywood to the pine box.



Glue the pine box onto the back of the picture frame using glue that is waterproof and made for outdoor use.  Clamp frame and box together and let dry overnight.




After glue is dry, use outdoor paint to paint the entire box/frame unit, or leave it as is for a more natural look.  I painted mine brown, including the hardware cloth, so the wire wouldn’t show as much before the plants grow in.


After the paint has dried, attach a wire to the back of the frame to hang it.  I used two screws and wrapped a piece of wire around them on each side to make a hanger.


Lay the frame on a flat surface and fill with your potting mix.  The hardware cloth acts as a screen to keep out the large pieces.  Keep pushing in as much potting mix as you can to pack the frame as full as possible.  Remember that it will settle as it gets watered and you want to make sure it doesn’t shrink away from the hardware cloth.


Once the potting mix is inserted you can add your plants.  I used sempervivum in mine.  Make holes in the potting mix with a screwdriver and insert the roots of your plants through the hardware cloth.  The potting mix will probably compact some more during this process, so be sure to keep filling it as needed.  Keep in mind the size your mature plants will be and leave room between them for growth.  After you’re done planting, water in well and add more potting mix if needed. 

2012-05-05/goldfinch4/9dcd41 2012-05-05/goldfinch4/60b255

The frame will need to lie flat for 2-4 weeks until the plants have rooted.  When I water I remove the frame from the wall and lay it down to water.  After a few hours I hang it up again.  Here is the living picture 5 weeks later.


You can use any plants you'd like to create your one of a kind living picture.  Have fun!

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Gorgeous! by zuzu Mar 19, 2017 10:48 AM 44
Beautiful... by Ridesredmule Jun 13, 2012 8:18 PM 14

Explore More:

Member Login:

( No account? Join now! )

Today's site banner is by RootedInDirt and is called "Spring Colors"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.