Karen Atkins is the owner of Proper Gardens, a garden design and installation firm and is a State-by-State Gardening blogger. Follow her at pagardener.com/propergardens.

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You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
by Karen Atkins    

This 6-by-6-inch post was stained black and the elegant finial was found at a national retail chain for less than $10.

Plant a colorful mailbox garden to welcome visitors. Here’s how.

It might be the first thing visitors see — and your postal carrier is very familiar with it — it’s your mailbox. Is it as beautiful as your garden? Here are some tips to plant a garden at your mailbox.

Think about it. It is front and center. Yet most people, even great gardeners, completely neglect their mailboxes. With just a little bit of thought and work, you can greatly improve it.

First, consider what is elevating the mailbox to regulation height. If it isn’t brick or stone, ask yourself if the post is even in the right place. If not, there is no reason you shouldn’t move it, so long as your local Postmaster approves the change.

After placement, think about the post’s dimensions. Mailboxes are commonly mounted on a 4-by-4-inch wooden post. A 6-by-6-inch post costs little more and yet has a more satisfying visual weight. Just staining the post to harmonize with the mailbox in color can improve things a lot. Can your mailbox use a new coat of paint, or is it too old, cracked, rusty or dented to ever look good? There are mailboxes made to suit any style or budget. You can also buy new brass or silver numbers and screw them into the post.

A simple trick to personalize your mailbox is to find a cast iron or a wooden finial as your crowning touch for the post. You can select from a wide range of ornaments — everything from birds to squirrels or obelisks. The fun part is finding one that expresses your own interests and your style. The hard part is finding a way to mount it.

Next, obtain chicken wire to staple to the post, to encourage hardy climbers. If you choose chicken wire, try to disguise it by painting it the color of the post before stapling.

Finally, choose relatively low-maintenance plants to surround your new, improved garden accent. Our plan includes drought-tolerant plants to reduce the amount of supplemental water needed. We also chose an evergreen hedge to discourage grass or weeds from encroaching and ensure year-round interest. Roses, hydrangeas and echinaceas provide seasonal color. Cleome and nasturtiums do the same and also reseed in bare spots to deter weeds.




‘Limelight’ hydrangea is extremely drought tolerant.

Buxus ‘Green Velvet’ frames the garden to prevent weeds from jumping into the garden and also provide winter interest.

Cleome adds height and drama.


(From State-by-State Gardening January/February 2012. Photography By Karen Atkins.)


Posted: 04/11/12   RSS | Print


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