There are times when you need to look for alternative planting options because living plants aren’t the best choice.
But artificial plants? What the heck could possibly make you think of using fake plants as a substitute for nature’s own?
In this post we’re going to take a look at the practical side of using artificial plants.
If you’re not familiar, there are now many types of artificial plants you can buy – all the way from succulents, topiaries, to believe it or not, trees!
Problem: Need Privacy Screen and Nothing Grows
Really? You’re going to use a bunch of artificial trees to create screening and gain some privacy? Yes. In fact, I’ve seen a handful of useful tree choices where you can instantly create screening, and it looks like the real thing -it’s amazing!
Two choices: artificial arborvitae or cedar trees turn out to be an excellent and cost efficient, substitute for the real thing. If you don’t believe me, read-on and I’ll show you photos and a brief case study of a property in San Francisco, CA. In this example, the homeowner uses close to thirty artificial arborvitae trees as a screen. These dark green upright evergreens are a perfect example of the functional role plants can play in the landscape.
In the following photos, take a look at how these artificial arborvitaes are planted in a row as a hedge/screen. The other shrubs, trees, and plants you see on this property are living, but I will tell you, I had to touch everything to know.
Both the Victorian home and the mature botanical garden-like planting on this property are incredible, and inspiring to take in. Using the artificial pyramid shaped arborvitae serves an important purpose here for screening. But as you’ll see below, larger design elements are at play. 🙂
Photo above, shows a comparison of artificial versus real planting. Facing a busy San Francisco street these deep green (artificial) pyramidal shaped trees offer an excellent form for this garden and contrast beautifully with the (live) laurel shrub: which meet at the corner.
The property is infused with numerous needle leaved conifers from redwoods, Monterey pines to real and artificial arborvitaes. Another theme here is the striking pyramidal forms. (Photo above and below.)
Benefits of Artificial
Okay, hopefully I’ve given you some context! You can see from this property, that using a hedge of artificial arborvitae creates the visual of a real arborvitae screen. So why go artificial?
You may have an area where nothing grows due to heavy shade, soil issues, animal issues, lack of water. Maybe you’re not getting the results you want – and are tired spending money and energy replacing dead plants. Plus…
You’ll never need to worry about:
- replacing dead ones
How to Plant
Outdoor artificial trees and shrubs come in pots that can be planted directly into the ground. In the example above, each plant (27 in total) was sunk into a larger container and back filled with concrete and then planted directly into the ground, containers and all. This clever approach offers extra weight and stability for normal wind, rain, and even browsing critters. With the mild climate of San Francisco, these artificial trees should last maintenance-free for a long time.
About and Where to Buy
Outdoor artificial trees like these fake arborvitaes typically come in round plastic pots. The plants are infused with a UV inhibitor, designed to protect against harmful UV rays. They’re also designed to withstand average wind and rain exposure. If you’re looking to buy, options are 1. to shop locally, check out Walmart and Home Depot; or, 2. to shop online. Personally, you’ll do better shopping online, because there’s a lot of choice and it’s much easier: especially if you know what you want.
Case Study: Live Plants versus Artificial
This San Francisco property used (27) 6-foot tall fake arborvitae (Thuja). Had this been a live privacy screen, a similar plant like Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ could have been used.
About this plant:
- Thuja occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ is a very commonly used tree for screening and decorative purposes. Its growth habit is narrow and pyramidal and mature size range is: 8-15 ft tall x 2-4 ft wide. Here’s the breakdown…
- Estimated cost: for plant 3 to 4 foot tall (44 – 50″): $100. (Quick search online)
- 27 plants (between 3 to 4 feet at planting) = $2700
- Costs to plant – labor + materials (good drainage a must. Full sun to part shade)
- Costs to maintain – low maintenance
- Costs to water – or time
- Costs to replace (it happens!)
- Estimated cost: for plant 6 foot tall (72″): $140
- 27 plants (6 foot tall, forever, and at planting, plus forever narrow width) = $3,780
- Costs to plant – labor and materials (Weight them in and down using topsoil, drainage rock, or concrete: as used in case study example.)
Using artificial outdoor plants, especially large trees and shrubs, creates an instant effect. If you have a garden situation where growing living plants is a challenge, definitely consider the artificial option. Though I’m not recommending a world of artificial plants, there are times when this choice makes great sense. As you know from the case study, cost, planting, care. If you’re looking to buy online, take a look at Wayfair, Amazon and ArtificialPlantsandTrees.com. Wayfair I like because they have a great selection of attractive indoor/outdoor artificial plants in ceramic pots: Amazon has a good selection of outdoor fake plants like the 6 foot artificial arborvitae/cedar in this post.
They’re shipped and packed in a box, so you’ll need to spend around 10 minutes”fluffing” each one first.
ArtificialPlantsandTrees.com has an incredible selection of artificial plants – both indoor and outdoor. Outdoor plants are UV protected to prevent your plants from fading. We found the site to be well organized and easy to navigate.