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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 :)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

Comments are closed.