May 12, 2013

Living pictures beautify exteriors

Succulents work well for open-fronted shadow boxes that add color to outside living areas.

By SARAH WOLFE The Associated Press

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Cuttings of succulents and other plants can go in varied frames for living pictures.

The Associated Press/Flora Grubb Gardens/Caitlin Atkinson

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Waves or rivers of color are popular living-picture designs, although Cape Cod-based landscaper Jason Lambton has gone bolder with spirals of green and purple.

"We painted the pallet different color stripes to go with the color theme of the back of the house," says Lambton, host of HGTV's "Going Yard." "It looked like a cool piece of living, reclaimed art."

Using just one type of succulent is also a simple yet elegant option, says Kirk Aoyagi, co-founder and vice president of FormLA Landscaping.

"Collages with some draping and some upright plants can create a more dramatic look and feel," he says.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE TIPS

Keep the living picture flat and out of direct sunlight for one to two weeks to allow roots to form along the stems, then begin watering.

"If you hang it up right away or it rains a lot, that dirt will just pour right out. I made that mistake once," Lambton says.

Mount your living art once the succulents are securely rooted, which can take four to eight weeks, depending on climate.

After that, water every seven to 10 days by removing from the wall and laying it flat. Be sure to let the water drain before hanging your living picture back up, to avoid rotting.

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