Window boxes aren’t usually included in house plans or considered as part of an initial landscape design. Most often they’re an afterthought — but they can make your home stand out dramatically.
Window boxes add depth, dimension, color and texture to a facade, and can change a home’s look from flat and boring to popping with color and charm. Window boxes also help blend the interior and exterior of a home because you can see the flowers and plants from the inside.
Flower boxes can be added to any flat surface that needs livening up, including fences, deck railings, walls or other barren spots that need a little color and interest. You can get creative with window boxes, far beyond putting them under windows in the front of a home.
Choosing a Window Box: There are a number of window box options to choose from, but before you decide, ask yourself these questions: Do you want the boxes to blend into the house or create contrast? Do you want them to look elegant or rustic? What type of box would enhance the theme of your home?
Which ever you chose, whether you build them yourself, or buy them, make sure they are rot resistant and durable enough to stand up to the weight of soil, plants and water. They will also need holes for drainage.
If you like wood window boxes, treated redwood or cedar are popular options. A benefit of wood is it can be painted to match, or contrast with the exterior of your home.
Fiberglass window boxes are pricey, but they’re beautiful and have long lifespans which can compensate for the initial cost. Another option is to get inexpensive plastic window boxes that you can hide under trailing plants.
Decorative metal is another option. When added to the right style of home, metal window boxes can serve as a classy design solution. But keep in mind that if the boxes are exposed to direct sunlight, it can bake and fizzle the roots of your plants… especially if you live somewhere like Arizona.
You will need to measure the width of your window before you build or purchase the window boxes. A window box should be a few inches longer or shorter than your window for accent. Most window boxes are about 6 inches deep. The deeper the window box, the more the roots of your plants can grow.
Most manufactured window boxes come with mounting hardware. Be sure to follow the recommendations and directions for mounting, leaving space between the window box and the house to prevent water from getting trapped and damaging the siding of your house.
Planting Window Boxes: You can place soil and plants directly into the window boxes, you can insert a plastic liner first that fits the box, or you can fill the box with potted plants that you can easily interchange. Any of these options work as long as there is adequate drainage.
When selecting plants for your window boxes, pick plants that have similar lighting and moisture requirements. You might pick some of the same plants in your landscape or different plants to complement the look.
To add texture and interest to your window boxes, use a mix of plants, including trailers, upright plants, filler plants and bulbs. To reduce maintenance, use a variety of drought-tolerant annuals that do not require daily watering and primping.
Use a good potting mix that is rich, organic and well-draining, and line the drainage holes in the bottom of the box with a screen, so you don’t lose all your soil after watering. Also, don’t use regular garden soil in your boxes — it’s too dense and will suffocate the roots of your plants.
To maintain the plants in your window boxes, water and deadhead the flowers regularly. Drip irrigation systems can be set up to water your boxes on a schedule. After all the work you’ve done to increase the charm of your home by adding window boxes, you don’t want them to become an eyesore of dead flowers, spindly vines and runaway weeds.
The number one reason window boxes don’t flourish is because the plants aren’t watered enough. As the plants grow, the roots go deeper and need more water to be thoroughly quenched. There is no need to worry about over-watering though, as the excess water drains out of the holes in the bottom of the box.
Just make sure no one feisty is standing directly beneath your window boxes when you water them.