Fake plants: Erin’s secret timesaver

When I decided to get clutter out of my life — physical, mental, time, and productivity clutter — I did it because I wanted to have more time and room in my life for the things that matter most to me. There are only 24 hours in the day, and I want to spend the majority of my waking hours doing what I value and find important.

Sure, there are chores (about 30 minutes a day) I don’t love, but doing them keeps stress and other negative effects out of my life. My overall life is better because I have routines in place to take care of the not-so-great parts.

One thing I don’t like doing is gardening or anything to do with the yard. I know that some people love gardening and are horrified that I don’t like it, but I enjoy things that I’m sure they have no interest in doing (cheese making, doing stand up comedy, reading mystery novels, playing the pedal steel guitar). We’re all different, which is what makes unclutterers so great.

Since I’m not fond of gardening, I have fake plants in all of the flower boxes on the front of my house. These are high-end fake plants. Even when you’re standing inches away from them, you have no idea that they’re not real. But, unlike real plants, I don’t have to do anything to maintain their beauty.

  • No watering.
  • No weeding.
  • No dying plants.
  • No plant diseases or pests.
  • No maintenance.

If you’re interested in sprucing up a flower box with fake plants, follow these tips to make it so that no one on your block has any idea:

  • Use high-end fake plants. If it looks bad in the store, it’s going to look bad in your flower box. The French make the world’s best fake plants, and if you can afford them, buy them. My favorite is Trousselier at 73 blvd Haussmann in Paris. If heading to France isn’t in your future (Trousselier doesn’t have an online shop), check out your local craft store and be very picky about what makes it into your cart.
  • Buy plants, not flowers. You don’t have to worry about things blooming in the wrong season if nothing blooms. And, even when they are very well made, fake flowers can still look fake.
  • Only display the plants during appropriate seasons. If a fern wouldn’t be growing outdoors in January, don’t have a fake fern outdoors in January. Store it into a garbage bag in your garage, and put it back out in the spring.
  • Only buy fake plants that could grow in your region.
  • Take the time to plan out and landscape your flower box before you go shopping for fake plants. You want the plants to look as natural as possible.
  • Buy fake plants with realistic looking imperfections. Not every leaf on a plant is the exact same shade of green, and sometimes a leaf or two is brown. Nature isn’t perfect, and neither should your fake plants be.
  • “Plant” your fake plants in gravel with fake moss or fake grass as ground cover. Weeds won’t grow in rocks, but they will grow in dirt. If you “plant” in dirt, you’re still going to have to pick out weeds.

Okay, now you know my time-saving secret. Where do you cut corners to free up time in your schedule to pursue the things that matter most to you?

(My apologies about the picture being small. It was hard to line up an image that didn’t flash my neighbors’ license plates to the internet.)

64 Comments for “Fake plants: Erin’s secret timesaver”

  1. posted by Mary on

    Not fake plants! Permanent Arrangements! Or as my late, sainted great aunt from Augusta would say “Puh-muh-nint Uh-range-mints.” She swore by them. Didn’t like it when relatives brought real live potted plants, poinsettias, mums, and such as gifts. Of course, grandma and the other sisters wanted live ones, so they just took hers home.

    I just go with shrubs and hostas and day lilies. In the woods nearby there are houses that may not have been inhabited for a century, but the day lilies are still going strong.

  2. posted by adora on

    Fake plants are great when you use them properly. New York florist Preston Bailey often mix fake flowers with real for weddings so that no one has to worry about dying plants.

    The biggest problem with fake plants is that people who are too lazy to work on plants are usually to lazy to clean. They are dust magnets! A little swiffer duster weekly is important!

    On the UK show “How Clean is Your House?”, they teach you to put the fake plant in a large paper bag with a cup of table salt in there. Close it, shake it, shake it. The dust are removed by the salt in minutes!

  3. posted by Jason Baker on

    Why not low-maintenance native species instead? If you pick a nice arrangement of plants that are native to your region and appropriate for the conditions you’re planting them in, you can eschew the watering and they’ll grow for years unassisted. Not to mention, you’re not wasting your money on a synthetic ball of ruffled plastic that will go straight to the landfill when it fades.

  4. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Jason Baker — Where we live, the only thing that stays green in the bitter winter are evergreens … and those get diseases and pests. My neighbors have them in their flower box and they look awful. Right now they have those bugs that look like pine cones all over them.

    Everything else dies in the winter and requires pruning, dead leaf removal, weeding, and/or replanting in the spring. No thank you.

    Also, expensive fake plants take decades to change color. The ones in the picture above are five years old and the same color as the day we bought them. Again, it’s about quality. AND … the environmental damage of having to transport plants across the US, water on a regular basis, and treat with pesticides is way worse than the environmental damage of making the fake plants in a 1′ x 5′ flower box.

  5. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I have to say, I was initially one of the horrified ones, but yours look good. My neighbor sticks cheap plastic flowers in her gardens (we have a BIG deer problem around here, and finding stuff they won’t mow down is a challenge), and they look awful. Me, I just keep trying stuff until I find things the deer will leave alone. Gardening is meditative for me. But for those who abhor it, this could be a good solution.

  6. posted by Darci on

    Thank you, Erin! I love this idea and, as you said, buying quality “permanent arrangements” is the key to success in doing this right. Thank you for the tip!

  7. posted by Johnny on

    As someone that likes to garden, I am somewhat appalled at the the idea of fake plants outdoors. I can see why someone would want to do it, but I still think it’s preferrable to have a live plant. Fake plants don’t do anything to improve environment (like improving air and soil quality) and in my mind seem like an artificial addition to the ecosystem. But I guess fake greenery is better than no greenery.

  8. posted by enigma on

    We use fake flowers inside and a mix of real and fake flowers and plants (mainly palm trees and such) outside.

    They do look great but realistic ones are hard to find.

    There are two things, though: after a while, the colors start fading and also, they cannot resist wind as real plants can, which means we have to add lots of stones to keep them in place. Putting them in and out on a ‘relatively regular’ routine makes some think of it as a pain in the back, while others think it´s exercise.

    Occasionally, I dream of really good looking hedges, big ones, really, really big ones. But they would probably be too expensive.

  9. posted by Splomo on

    The photos at the site en construction for Trousselier gave me a giggle. I am a lady, and a handy one, but … kneading dough with gemstones on? Wish I could be so soigne when I DIY.

  10. posted by Sarah on

    @Erin
    My grandfather-in-law (ha) puts random fake tulips around his yard and they’re always hilarious to come upon when wandering. :)

    I’ll be the first naysayer (sorry)…

    Definitely a trade off environmentally if you garden and choose to buy plants that were shipped from a good distance. I do like to garden, but I also buy locally grown plants that are sold at the farmer’s markets around here. I also don’t use pesticide and my plants are fine as well-they just may need the occasional soapy water spray. We have lots of bugs here too! One of my time saving gardening techniques is to dump my unfinished glasses or canteens of water into my potted plants as I go to/from the house. This wouldn’t work for lots of in the ground plants, of course!

    I think Jason Baker’s point about it all ending up in a landfill eventually is a good and valid one! I don’t think the environmental damage of a homeowner putting pesticides/fertilizers and lots of water on their home plants (excluding the lawn or exotics perhaps) would approach the environmental costs of producing mounds of plastic plants and then having them do no good to the world once they’re produced. It’s only your direct interaction with the product that would be different.

    My overall opinion is that this method may unclutter your time and life, but it clutters the rest of the world! Bitter winters can’t kill a rock and statue garden!

  11. posted by Nina on

    The whole idea about having plants to me is not just their look but also that they are a living thing. So eventhough I can understand the reasons for having fake plants ( I used to have a garden, and I never liked gardening), I couldn’t have them as I’d always know they are fake. And those extra few minutes a week you spend on watering them seem worth it to me.

  12. posted by Laura on

    You go girl! Love it!

  13. posted by Celeste on

    I wouldn’t enjoy shopping for the plants or thinking about the dust/dirt on them.

    I think I would probably rather not have flowerboxes than have fake plants in them. I would choose some other kind of ornament instead. The garden stores have lots of cool items that will add interest, such as chimes and things that move silently in the wind.

    For those who want the look but not the work, check your area to find a mobile gardener who will take care of it for you. That’s a service I know of in my town, and I think it makes a lot of sense. I’ve seen them just putting in annuals for people once a year as well as tending whatever else is needed. I think this is largely thought of as an idea for people who aren’t physically up to gardening any more, but I think it could surely be used by somebody who wants the look without doing the work. I don’t think flowerbox maintenance (for example) would be all that expensive.

  14. posted by L. on

    I’d have to come down on the “horrified” side. If I buy annuals I buy them locally and often get them from organic greenhouses. I never need to pesticide my plants. Also, as Nina said, the whole idea just seems contrary to the *point* of having plants. Like having a cardboard dog instead of a real one. To me this is not uncluttering, just wrong!

  15. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Celeste — I agree about there being alternatives to flower boxes. However, my house has flower boxes built into it (they physically hold up our porch) and the home owners’ association requires that everyone have plants in their flower boxes during the months of May through September. Also, I think that plants add a great deal to curb appeal. It’s weird to see a house butting right up to concrete without any greenery.

    @L — It shouldn’t be an issue of “right” vs. “wrong” … it’s an issue of preference. That is what is so great about unclutterers, we’re all so different.

  16. posted by Keter on

    Whatever works… I don’t do decorative plantings – I let nature do its thing, and if something comes up somewhere I don’t like, I dig it up and toss it or move it. The result is a yard that takes mere minutes a week to maintain (mostly to pick the the trash jerks throw out of their cars) and doesn’t require fertilizing or watering.

    I do raised bed vegetable gardening and container herb gardening. After the initial build of the garden, which was substantial but will never have to be done again, planting takes one morning and maintenance takes about 10 minutes a day – watering, minor weeding (do this daily and it never becomes a big chore), harvesting, and maintaining the compost tea maker. I get three crops a year, including in the winter (I made a collapsible green house frame that fits over the raised bed. Ordinary clip lights keep the garden warm.) The idea was to invest the labor up front and reap the benefits of very low maintenance later. The garden area is very pretty, and I do my daily gardening while dinner is cooking or right afterward, with a glass of wine or a beer to enjoy…very relaxing!

    I use high end fake plants in inaccessible areas of my house, like on top of high cabinets and hanging in the stairwell. I take them down when dust starts to show and shake them in a bag with sand to clean. In summer, most of my living plants move outdoors, but in winter, I like having live plants inside to help add humidity and clean the air.

  17. posted by Sharon on

    I’m too afraid of 1) keeping them updated from season to season to look realistic and 2) the clutter of them in storage in the off season.

    This is the first time I’ve ever felt strongly enough about an idea on this website to comment. This is a definite no-no.

  18. posted by Miracle Maxine on

    Always hilarious to see the many emotions even the most innocent uncluttering ideas bring to the surface. I’m living in my very first “real” house, after a lifetime of aparments and townhomes, so the novelty of gardening hasn’t wore off yet.

    As for shortcuts – I have the minimal amount of bed-linen. No cute dust-ruffles, no decorative pillows no matter how good they look at the store, and no flat sheets. Just a fitted sheet, one to two pillows per person, and duvet covers. I store the folded sets together rather than having each item in a different pile. And I only have 2 complete sets per bed, plus two additional guest sets – a single and a double set. C’est tout.

  19. posted by Jeff on

    I’m surprised people on an “uncluttering” website are discussing / encouraging purchasing fake plants. The beauty of plants is that they’re alive and offer clean oxygen. Why would someone want to have something that offers nothing more than an illusion of a living organism?

  20. posted by Chris 2 on

    I agree with Erin! I have 5 planters in front of my house that get very hot, uneven amounts of sun. I tried live plants several times, and they all died despite daily watering. I finally switched to realistic looking plastic plants and I am happy with my choice. It’s funny how judgmental people can be, I do not care for fake flowers but I try to appreciate that someone else believes they are beautiful.

  21. posted by Celeste on

    @Erin–in this case, I think you’ve hit upon a good solution to the problem of keeping the owners’ organization off your back with the least amount of effort spent on an activity you don’t enjoy. It seems to work for you; here’s hoping nobody petitions the board to disallow fakes!

  22. posted by Loren on

    I have to say, all this research, ‘dusting’, putting in the garage out of season, seems like just as much (if not more) clutter than a couple house plants, and just the idea of fake plants makes me shudder. But if you have no other options these are good tips.

    Also if those ‘bugs that look like pine cones’ are what I think they are (bag worms) tell your neighbors to pull off as many as they can and BURN them. They are a menace, will kill your neighbors evergreens, and half the trees in the neighborhood.
    http://www.pestproducts.com/bag-worm.htm

  23. posted by Sunny Paris on

    Also horrified. I can appreciate that you hate gardening, and that if you are required to do it, it can be a pain in the behind– but how much are these high end French plants (and how often do you have to throw them out and replace them), as compared to hiring someone to come out every year to maintain some perennials?

    Most of my perennials literally need one bit of maintenance a year that fake plants wouldn’t (a trim). You would still need to clear away the weeds and such from fake plants, correct? That’s the pain.

  24. posted by fake is clutter on

    This is an idea that I really hope never catches on. Plant contribute substantially to air quality. We need them, not because they are pretty but because they are part of the air we breathe.

    Not every time saver is worth it. There are big picture issues to consider. Take half an hour, plant a real honest to God tree.

  25. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @fake — I don’t know about this God tree. Does it grow gods? You must share a link.

    Also, I live in a forest. Yes, the front of my house faces a street. However, the back of my house is 17 acres of solid trees. Trees that provide lovely oxygen. Plus, I’m going to guess that since I live an extremely minimalist life, don’t commute to an office every day, recycle, and buy almost all of my food from local farmers (I’m a member of a CSA) that I have a MUCH lighter impact on the environment than 99 percent of Americans. Judge me all you want …

    I am very curious, however, about this God tree …

  26. posted by cdelphine on

    Your homeowners’ association requires that you have plants?! I’m so glad I live in the country, far away from any homeowners’ associations.

    While I don’t have any fake plants and probably won’t, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. It doesn’t seem that “horrifying” to me.

  27. posted by Karen on

    Ugh, homeowners’ associations. Busybodies. If i were required to have plants in the flowerboxes, as Erin is, and didn’t enjoy gardening, as Erin doesn’t, I’d probably do the same thing.

    Those are lovely plants, I couldn’t tell they were fake.

  28. posted by Beth on

    When I saw the title of this post, the first thing that came to my mind was the batch of brightly colored silk flowers (yellow, pink, purple) that popped up in my next door neighbors’ garden around the 1st week of April This is in addition to the faux topiaries and the plastic geese! Otherwise, they are good people!

    I think there is a way to do “uncluttered” gardening by planning your space with some base plants – hostas, lillies, evergreens, azaleas – and then filling in with your annual plants.

    Since I moved into my new house last year, I have done my share of pruning, digging up and moving, digging up and discarding, and generally reworking my gardens to make them {a} attractive and {b} easily maintained.

    The, I take the entire month of May weekends to clean up, weed and remulch where needed. After that, it is just the maintenance of cutting the lawn and pulling the occaisional stray weed. But, I find, after a long day at work, an hour or two of yard work before dinner de-stresses me very well!

    But – to each his own!

    Erin – please tell me you don’t have AstroTurf instead of grass!

  29. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Beth — No AstroTurf. I live in a community of international-style houses. Two walls of the house are solid glass, and the other two are concrete. The front of the house sits directly on the street (which is why the flower boxes are nice, because they put _some_ green out there). And, the back of the house is a forest. No mowing. No gardening. I don’t even have plants in the house (cats eat everything). Neither my husband nor I like yard work, so it was something that weighed heavily on our decision to move in here. My mother, like you, LOVES yard work. Her garden is incredible. I also come from a long line of farmers (gardeners on a very large scale). It was probably all the summers spent weeding fields and gardens that turned me against it. Who knows?!

  30. posted by Carol Peterman on

    I gave up on inside house plants years ago and bought a couple of really lovely large fake plants that haven’t dropped a single leaf, or died once! They are great. Strangely I would rather dust the plant than water it.

  31. posted by Sky on

    I have “permanent” flowers inside that have fooled the most devoted gardeners but outside I love my flowers and vegetables. I enjoy the fragrance, natural beauty and there is nothing better than home grown tomatoes and herbs.

    Living in the south, I have to admit when I think about fake flowers outside I think of rural folks with gaudy plastic, pink and blue flowers planted in tires and I’ve even seen them planted in toilets in the front yard!

    Erin, I’m sure your flowers are beautiful and tasteful.

  32. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sky — A toilet as a flower “pot”?? Really?! Well, points for creativity on that one! Ha!

  33. posted by newchapter on

    At my home in North Florida, I had both real plants and nice looking fake ones. One spring, I wanted tulips. They don’t really grow in Florida. I bought some realistic looking ones and planted them in my front flower bed. Imagine my surprise one morning when I look out and see a neighbor in the middle of my tulips. He said they looked so real, he just had to inspect them closer since they all came up in one day. LOL All my neighbors enjoyed them until the azaleas started blooming and I took the “tulips” out.

  34. posted by Denise Tourelle on

    Fake plants are dys-feng shui. I associate fake plants with polyester – synthetic replacement. If you don’t use real plants, just use rocks or sticks or something else organic. And by organic, I simply mean “of the earth”.

    Fake plants also accumulate dust, and then look even worse.

  35. posted by Barbara Martin on

    As a recovering serious gardener, garden designer and horticulturist I am so sorry you hate to nurture plants so much. But, it occurs to me you might remove the window boxes? If there is a need for color or visual interest on the front of the house, why not install a mural or mosaic or sculpture, instead? Something inanimate and weather proof and carefree. Synthetic plants outdoors just plain hurt my heart.

  36. posted by Malcolm on

    Wow! Hasn’t this post stirred up some emotion! I am a keen gardener but I also believe in personal freedom, and if someone wants to fill their entire yard with plastic gnomes, or old car bodies, or weeds, that is THEIR BUSINESS. Same goes for permanent displays (fake plants) – why on earth not? Go for it Erin. Diversity for ever!

  37. posted by Andrea on

    I think this is a terrific idea and never thought to bring the tricks I use for ‘faux’ greenery outside! I’ve always had such bad luck with outdoor flowers and plants as they always get too much sunlight or I forget to water them :/

    I’ve started to embrace the faux plants in my home and people actually complement me on the ones placed strategically around my kitchen. I even took it a step further this past April when my husband and I were married in the Dominican Republic I had a beautiful arrangement of fake flowers made so I bring it there and back. People were stunned to find out my bouquet wasn’t real flowers – lasts forever and not to mention a quarter of the price of a temporary bouquet of live flora!

  38. posted by JC on

    I was once at the grocery with my husband and my mother. We were discussing houseplants and the fact was brought up that (at the time) I was a dismal houseplant caretaker. In fact they joked about my “black thumb” and our house being the place where plants go to die. My husband asked me why our plants did not look as beautiful as my mother’s plants did. To my husband’s consternation my mother began laughing. I turned to him and informed him that my mother’s plants were green, vibrant and lovely because they were FAKE plants. He had never noticed that small fact, or that they had never grown or changed in over seven years. My mother has allergies associated with various molds so she cannot have plant soil in the house. She dusts her plants and every so often takes them from their pots and sits them in the shower for a rinse.

    My house plants now thrive because we are living in a house that has large window for plenty of light.

  39. posted by Sue on

    I’m going to have to be one of the people who don’t like this. There is just too much petroleum in fake plants. It works for Erin, but I hope it doesn’t catch on and become a trend.

    For those who want an uncluttered garden, there are so many ways to achieve it with real, living plants. I disagree strongly with one of Erin’s comments that fake plants are better for the environment that real plants. You can have real plants that are grown locally, require little water or no water once established, and little to no chemicals. The amount of effort Erin put into choosing her fake plants could be applied to choosing locally sourced, low-maintenance, native plants.

    A few fake plants in flower boxes – I can see that. Flower boxes are high maintenance. However, I’ll draw the line at fake plants as landscape materials.

  40. posted by Anita on

    Let me first say that I’m by no means a gardener. I’ve managed to kill some pretty resilient plants, and I’m trying hard to keep a couple of potted plants happy in my apartment.

    But fake plants?!
    Sure, there’s no work, no watering, no maintenance. (Except… if you have to change the fake plants with the seasons, wouldn’t there still be a lot of work involved in researching what grows when, picking them out, and changing them appropriately?)
    Also: no extra oxygen, no fresh-smelling flowers/plants, no seasonal variance, and a huge waste of space and plastic. In other words, the complete opposite of what a garden can bring you.

    I’m not saying you should reinvest your time in caring for a garden. If you don’t see the value in having one, you don’t have to! Why not just get rid of your flower boxes and use the space for something else? Because beyond a vague visual enhancement, you’re not getting anything out of those flower boxes, except plastic that, I imagine, you will need to dust once in a while, to keep up the pretense.

  41. posted by Re on

    Erin – as the flower boxes are part of the structure of your home and the home owners association requires you to keep plants in them for 5 months a year – I don’t see any problem with using realistic looking fake plants.

    When I was a new homeowner I was all gung-ho about gardening but I have come to realize that I just do not like it so I stopped. Also, I there is no room in my budget for a gardening service.

    The flower boxes were the first thing to go because they required the most labor. I just took my flower boxes down. But since you cannot do that I think you have made a reasonable compromise.

  42. posted by Helen on

    A great solution to your problem. My neighborhood association requires three evergreen trees (they chose the species) in each front garden, regardless of the size of that garden. As a result, I have three large evergreens squashed together, which certainly does not look attractive, and does the trees no good.

  43. posted by Sheena on

    If using fake plants unclutters your life, then to each their own. I personally wouldn’t do it. As well as wanting to do away with clutter, I want to live simplistically and sustainably. So while it might save time…I’m always looking for ways to do that…it wouldn’t be in line with my sustainable efforts. Besides if more people started to do this..we’d have to do away with “stop and smell the roses.”

  44. posted by EngineerMom on

    This is a completely unexpected topic!

    At first, I was horrified – fake plants OUTSIDE? Then I read Erin’s comment about how the flower boxes are structural (support her porch) and how her homeowners’ association REQUIRES there to be plants in the flowerboxes from May to September. For someone who hates to garden, this seems like a great solution. I’m guessing that the occasional rain rinses dust off, so she probably doesn’t spend much time dusting, and since it’s limited to a couple of flowerboxes, it’s not like her whole yard has been dug up and replaced with fakeness. And since the homeowners’ association requires PLANTS in the flowerboxes, tasteful displays of rocks, sand, sticks, etc. are literally not possible.

    This seems like a reasonable solution, albeit not a particularly popular one. Given that she has lots of trees in her back yard, I disagree with the many comments about the fake plants somehow influencing her contribution to the environment. Planting fake plants in her flowerboxes isn’t any different than if she had a couple of fake trees in her living spaces.

    Kudos to Erin to posting on such a controversial topic. Although I would argue that the details concerning your flowerboxes’ structural purpose and your homeowners’ association should have been included in the original post, as they are quite necessary to understanding your full reasons behind this decision.

  45. posted by L on

    I hate gardening too so this idea is so perfect! Thanks!! Now I wonder how fake grass would go for the lawn!!

  46. posted by Shana on

    Odious. Erin, you seem particularly defensive (“I’m more environmentally conscious than 99% of you, so there!”). Just because most of the commenters disagree with you doesn’t make us wrong. Perhaps you might acknowledge that the idea is, in general, tacky, and admit that you don’t care? I think we can all agree that we would not be in favor of large-scale replacement of living plants with plastic ones, and one enduring true test of whether something is appropriate is to consider how we’d feel if everyone started doing it.

    I just don’t subscribe to the idea of “high-end” fake plants. Plastic plants are plastic plants — yeah, they’re low-maintenance, but so is replacing your lawn with Astroturf. Do you see a significant difference between the two? I don’t.

  47. posted by Louise on

    I have to laugh at how outraged some of the commenters are about “fake” plants. We all have artificial enhancements in our lives. Do you wear makeup? Why? Isn’t your “natural” beauty good enough? Do you propel yourself along the streets using vehicles? Why? Isn’t the “natural” locomotion of walking the only proper way? Do you grow all your own food, or do you purchase some of it, wrapped in plastic packages to transport them home?

    Oh, and about that home: it is just a pile of leaves and twigs, right? Nothing artificial like paint or fire-proof roof shingles or a concrete driveway?

    One person’s fake is another’s time-saving convenience. “Horrified” seems like a bit of an over-reaction, but perhaps my “bemusement” is just another fake thing…

  48. posted by Malcolm on

    L: fake grass can look pretty good, where I live we are immersed in a 10-year drought and what with hot dry weather and watering restrictions to conserve the city’s shrinking water supply, the only grass that looks any good is the fake stuff. One or two houses in our street have some old green carpet laid on the ground – now that DOES look second rate – but the plastic grass is the best lawns in town. And it probably doesn’t use any more petroleum over its lifetime than a lawn which needs mowing using a powered mower. Oh dear, I hope that idea doesn’t set all the purists off….

  49. posted by SimoneG on

    more REAL PLANTS! that’s what our World needs and take care of them is what we need; I truly disagree this post as it is so trashy and against the thinkGREEN way >:-\

  50. posted by jfb3 on

    Why are you worried about showing a neighbors license plate? He doesn’t keep it a secret when he drives.

  51. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @jfb3 – Fair point. Mostly what was running through my mind was that I didn’t want to create any extra work for myself. They all have personalized plates and I didn’t want any of them calling me to complain after seeing their cars flashed across the internet. A few of them read the site. Might as well keep community relations low-key.

    @Shana – I honestly DON’T think it’s tacky. I probably wouldn’t do it if I thought it looked tacky.

  52. posted by Teri K on

    @Lori Paximadis – I went to a gardening workshop last night and the issue of deer eating plants came up. Any chance you have a dog or cat? Gather up some animal fur (maybe Erin can send you a bag of her cats’ fur) and spread in on top of the soil around the plants. The deer won’t come near them.

    Regarding the topic of the post, I’m torn. I would prefer to have natural, living plants but I have a hard time keeping them alive. I’ve managed to kill a cactus! I’ve considered fake plants but just can’t bring myself to buy them. I have two plants I’ve been able to keep alive for about three years now so I’m holding out hope that I won’t need to resort to fakes.

  53. posted by gerette on

    Funny, I just went to JoAnn’s yesterday and bought some lovely fakes for my flower boxes. Unlike Erin’s, they’re not structural, but they are on the second floor, which makes watering a b*tch, especially since one of the windows has an a/c unit in it all summer long. Yes, I would prefer to have real flowers, but spending money year after year on annuals that last less than a month seems pretty wasteful to me.

  54. posted by Tabatha on

    wow, people are getting so angry over your choice to have a few nice looking fake plants in front of your house.

    if i could afford it i would probably landscape my entire property with AstroTurf and fake plants b/c i don’t like doing any yard work and i hate dealing with bugs.

  55. posted by Maurice on

    I think it’s funny that you claim the environmental damage of buying real plants from nonlocal sources is worse than flying to Paris to buy fake plants. Not sure I understand the logic.

  56. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Maurice — I have family in Paris. It’s a trip I make every other year no matter what. So, for my life, it’s not a net increase in environmental impact. Additionally, since I fly a major carrier it’s “public” transportation, as opposed to say chartering my own jet to go there.

  57. posted by Shana on

    “Additionally, since I fly a major carrier it’s “public” transportation, as opposed to say chartering my own jet to go there.”

    Yeah, you need to look into that. It’s like saying wasting 3 million gallons of water totally is okay, since it’s not 5 million. Air travel is…not environmentally okay, no matter HOW many people on the plane. I think you’re rationalizing. Like I said in an earlier comment, being un-green is one thing if you cop to it, but pretending it’s okay? Uh-uh.

  58. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Shana — I was trying to be funny about the whole plane thing. I need to find a way to indicate to people that I’m intending to be humorous without saying “I’M BEING FUNNY NOW.” Maybe I could record all of my comments as video clips?? I’m really funny in my head :)

  59. posted by Donna on

    I’ve read this conversation with interest, and I applaud Erin for maintaining humor throughout. I am neither an avid gardener nor a planter of fake plants. So I stand on neither side of the divide. I just thought I’d add a quick analysis to this discussion. When I read a blog about de-cluttering, I expect it to have a progressive politics. Part of progressive politics has to do with sustainability. Buying and planting plastic flowers is not sustainable. So I think this may be the disconnect between Erin and her readers on this particular issue.

    I also think there is a hint of elitism in the advice to buy “high-end” fake flowers that also does not follow progressive politics. This also may be a reason for the missed humor in the “public transportation” joke.

    I hope the readers don’t judge Erin too harshly on this one, though. It’s a really nice blog and she is entitled to her opinion.

  60. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Donna — This is not a progressive blog. We’re non-political, or at least try to be. If I took a poll of staffers, we’d probably all turn out to be apathetic libertarians. But, it’s against the law for me to ask them, so I’m just making a guess.

    Our data indicates, too, that the vast majority of our readers are middle-class and higher. To read our website, you have to own a computer and internet connection or have regular access to a computer and internet connection (such as through a library or school). These are signs of moderate income and/or living in a community with resources. If someone were living on the streets and having difficulty finding food and shelter on a daily basis, clutter wouldn’t be an issue. So, we write our content to reflect the majority of our readership.

  61. posted by Jennifer on

    This post made me smile. I like your solution. One of my neighbors up the street in my old neighborhood has fake flowers in her garden. Or she’s just exceptionally talented and can grow daisies and tulips year round.

    We recently moved to New England and I thought of those fake flowers often during the long winter. I’ve got a couple of flower boxes and I’m thinking of planting some fake flowers in them for the winter to give me a bit of color and a smile as I’m washing dishes.

  62. posted by Donna on

    Oh, Erin. Your defensiveness really turns me off to your blog. There are many working-class American households that own computers. The latest data I’ve seen shows that 41% of households making $40,000 or less own personal computers. That figure doesn’t include those who have access to computers at school, libraries, or work. I don’t know if you’d consider that income middle-class or not, but I’d be willing to bet that most of those people don’t have the means to order high-end plastic flowers from France.

    I’m not even sure that I fit into your model. I’m just a lowly teacher making a teacher’s salary. If you are intent on only speaking to a middle-class community, that is fine. But do you really feel the need to state that on your blog?? How rude.

    My suggestion to you is to allow your readers to state their opinions without feeling the need to be so defensive. I have a blog as well, and just as in the classroom, I enjoy a good debate. Good luck to you.

  63. posted by Molly on

    Upon returning home after a 3 month hurricane Katrina evacuation, I was sad to see the large boxwood topiarys dead on my porch in their olive jar containers. I sprayed painted them green, knowing I would not be able to return home again for months. Four years later, they still look real and not a soul has noticed. Most people don’t even believe me when I point it out.

  64. posted by RV on

    Lighten up, people! I’m not a fan of fake plants myself, but that doesn’t give me a reason to attack someone else who has them. And Donna needs to lay off the defensiveness and ultra sensitivity. I see Erin’s point about the audience of this blog being “middle class or higher.” She’s just stating the demographics…sheesh.

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