I’ve mentioned it a few times here on the blog already, but last summer we had water restrictions here in Salt Lake City thanks to the drought. This summer is looking equally as dismal, in regards to water use. Our county already has restrictions in place and we’re only allowed to water our lawn, garden, or florals (basically any outdoor plants) for 20 minutes once per week. Given our hot & dry climate, it had me rethinking our outdoor planters, garden, and landscaping this year. In an effort to keep things looking nice, well manicured, and seasonally appropriate for spring & summer- I decided to mix in some faux outdoor plants this year… a first for me. Whether you’re trying to conserve water or you’re just looking for something that will look great all season long with zero maintenance, this post is for you. Click through for a big roundup of my favorite faux outdoor plants, along with my tips for making them look more convincing.
I’ll start by sharing my front porch planters. The day after we got our water restrictions, Emmett asked if I could nix our front porch planters altogether. Every year I plant hydrangeas with cascading ivy or bacopa, which requires a lot of watering. It was something we’d have to water every other day to keep alive. They were also kind of a pain because, oddly enough- we don’t have a water hose that reaches our front porch, so we’d end up schlepping gallons of water through the house to the porch (usually spilling along the way). It wasn’t ideal, but they were beautiful and worth the effort, in my opinion.
As you might guess, I didn’t love the thought of having nothing on the front porch. I enjoy having plants and welcoming arrangements that flank our entry doors for each season. As a compromise and an effort to conserve water this summer, I decided to deep dive into faux outdoor plants. Believe me when I say, there are a lot of bad ones on the market. I ordered a bunch, sent the majority of them back, and kept searching until I found a winning combination (which are pictured throughout this post). I hope my legwork helps you narrow it down, if you’ve also been on the hunt. I landed on these hydrangea topiaries for our porch… which are actually on sale right now (I paid full price).
I also ordered some boxwood topiaries to fill some of my garden planters- which would otherwise hold tomatoes or veggies in our garden. They are pictured below flanking the shed french doors! Those are actually from the Tuesday Made shop, but they’re special order. If anyone is interested in one, just shoot me a message, email, or comment and I can set up an order for you… full disclosure- they aren’t cheap (they’re in the $400 range), but they are UV resistant and as realistic as it gets. I don’t have them listed in the shop because shipping is a bear, but I could have them sent directly from our floral shop to you. Anyway- ready to see my finds and top selections?
Click directly on my finds in the collage to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below to shop…
01: wispy grass // 02: rosemary spiral topiary // 03: snowball hydrangea bush // 04: faux boxwood balls // 05: mixed fern hydrangea // 06: triple boxwood topiary // 07: lavender // 08: tapered boxwood // 09: orange tree // 10: terra cotta boxwood topiary // 11: cyprus spiral topiary // 12: juniper // 13: snowball hydrangea topiary // 14: boxwood greenery balls
Unlike indoor faux plants, the outdoor faux plant arena can be tricky and tough to navigate. Like I previously mentioned- I ordered a LOT (to test) and was disappointed in most. However, there are some beautiful options that seem durable and have high ratings- they were just tricky to dig up and discover. I’d love to hear your favorites from the roundup! Would you ever consider implementing or supplementing with faux plants outdoors? There are definitely some pros… they can be used year-after-year, they require no maintenance, and they look their best all season long.
One thing to note about faux outdoor plants (that is probably self explanatory)– I think they look best in a potted vignette. I would not recommend planting these in the ground. Think of them as a seasonal accessory rather than permanent landscaping… just like you would annual flowers and greenery.
My 5 Best Tips for Going Faux Outdoors…
1 // Consider price & quality. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to faux plants. I truly discovered this once opening our shop and scouring the market for the best of the best. I found that the really inexpensive options ended up looking really cheap. I definitely confirmed that higher-end plants that included increased price tags were much more realistic looking. It makes sense- better materials are used, they’re handmade, and are constructed to last. I also wanted assurance that if I’ve spending more on something that is more convincing, I expect durability. Fading was a big concern of mine, so I carefully read reviews.
2 // Plant faux as you would a regular, live plant. Use heavy beautiful planters, add real soil, mulch, moss, or rock to complete the look. Above all- fluffing is a must! A faux plant out of the box never looks good. It requires some effort up front to bend branches, shape leaves, and mold blooms to your liking in an organic way that looks realistic, as opposed to being smooshed or too calculated. Think of how a natural plants grows toward the sun and try to mimic that when styling!
3 // Mix in a few low-maintenance or water-wise live plants for the most convincing aesthetic. I used vinca and ivy (both are “water-wise” labeled and easy to care for).
4 // Think big picture. Style them in an intentional vignette so there are other elements to admire. A faux plant standing alone by itself is more likely to look faux when it’s the only thing to fixate upon. Consider implementing exterior lighting, outdoor rugs or doormats, pretty door hardware, other plants, patio furniture, etc.
5 // Be strategic. If you’re spending a chunk of change on faux plants, the benefit is that you can use them each year. That means caring for them. Clean them at the end of each season (think of power washing, using a leaf blower, or simply scrubbing with soap & water), properly store them, and when they’re on display- it’s best if they’re not in full sun 24/7. Strategically place them in a good area- like on a covered porch or a spot that is partially shaded throughout the day.
Am I saying I will never have live plants on our front porch or patio ever again? Absolutely not. Obviously my preference would be live plants, but this year- I think mixing a little of each is the best of both worlds for us. Who knows, given these are low maintenance, maybe they’ll become my new go-to. I’ll keep you posted! I do think they’re a great alternative… especially if you’re also trying to conserve water or don’t have the time for upkeep, pruning, and watering. I will say, the one and done planters have been very convenient so far- like the hydrangeas on our front porch. Our neighbors have already complimented them and thought they were real, so I’m calling that a win!
PeggiMay 11, 2022 at 4:49 am
Good morning! You certainly know how to make the best of a bad situation! Darn this drought. (for SO many reasons…) Of course, your selections look amazing. TBH, I would have ditched the front door planters immediately if they were such a pain to water! Actually, they just would have died from neglect; I am a notoriously unreliable waterer. All of your tips seem super smart. I think a nice pot and expert fluffing are key. I also love the idea of adding a layer of real plants; those boxwoods in front of the shed appear completely natural! I’m wondering if you’ve ever researched (or would consider) artificial turf for any part of your yard. I briefly considered it a few years ago for our back lawn. D had a few objections, so I went ahead with the plan for a sprinkler system instead. I’m kicking myself now. Two dogs, no chemicals and a drought are not the recipe for a beautiful lawn. Ha. It has greened up with the rain lately, at least. We thankfully did not get the forecasted snow at our elevation, but the surrounding mountains got a decent covering. Again, spring bringing the drama. Here’s to a calm, pleasant Wednesday, Sarah!💜🌸
(I’m excited for news of your new project on Friday!)
SarahMay 12, 2022 at 7:45 am
Good morning, Peggi! Darn this drought… my thoughts exactly. I always start the season with a great watering schedule and as our summer travels ramp up and it becomes a dry dessert here, things slowly start to shrivel and look less than happy. I’m hoping having less things to water this year will meet our restrictions and keep our curb appeal looking decent. We shall see! Growing up in a place where there was an abundance of water, green grass sans sprinkler system, and lush landscape, I always felt kind of snooty about turf. Of course the real deal is always better, but after moving to Utah- I can certainly see why people install it. I hate to admit, but it would be a really great option for us- especially in the backyard… although I’m convinced our dogs would hate it. As we rethink the backyard and landscaping someday, I think it’s definitely something we’ll consider. We splurged for sod last year and between the dogs and drought, it didn’t make it. It felt like a major waste of money. Spring is definitely brining the weather drama this year. Hope you have a wonderful and productive day! xox
LaurenMay 11, 2022 at 7:49 am
Good morning! I love the look you landed on for your front porch and the shed. They look like the real deal, and the added bonus of zero maintenance and ability to reuse year after year? Win, win. You certainly have far more tenacity than I. I’m lol’ing at the image of you trudging through the house with a bucket of water for the front porch urns- they’d have died a million little deaths under my watch! I put all of my plants through a rigorous course in survival usually involving extreme neglect and under watering; if they make it they’ve shown a true character willing of my attention. Haha! Jeff marvels at the fact I have so many living; I tell him I prefer plants with “survival of the fittest” mentality. I’m getting better, especially as I learn to care for a garden. Sadly, faux plants for outdoors will never be in the cards for me. A south facing home means copious amounts of sunlight all day- many an outdoor rug have proven UV resistance to be a unicorn idea at best. Were I able to select any of these lovelies, #2, 6, 9, and 12 are all gorgeous. For us, making the switch to water-wise plants is the best option, along with learning to care for our lawns using only the minimum amount of water necessary. Speaking of which- I finally planted the bed in the front yard! I still need to fill two large pots and plant the tiny bed nearest the side yard, but it’s shaping up to be beautiful, and should spring into growth once summer hits. We had overnight temperatures in the 30’s last night; spring is indeed dramatic this year. I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday Sarah.
SarahMay 12, 2022 at 7:40 am
Good morning, Lauren! Thank you so much. The front porch urns have been such a hassle these past few years with the watering. I’m actually looking forward to not carrying buckets through the house, lol! I just couldn’t bear to see them die and I definitely should have went with something that required lower maintenance. Ha! Lesson learned. I am cracking up at your survival of the fittest plants! Despite not being able to have faux plants- I’m sure your south facing home gets the most beautiful natural light. Smart to stick with the water wise plants. Growing up in the south, Emmett & I aren’t used to having to water so much. We never had a sprinkler system before moving to Utah and it was a crazy notion to us. We still have a lot to learn about gardening and keeping a nice lawn in a dessert climate. Amazing work on getting the front yard bed planted- way to go! I know that has been on your list. I bet it looks lovely! Hope you have a wonderful day :) xo
Danna FMay 11, 2022 at 11:52 am
Happy Wednesday! Kudos for all the trips to water your front porch plants! I too did this for years!!! It’s a commitment! Water restrictions are no fun when you are excited about Spring and all the flowers. You have already made a not so fun situation better. I would not have thought about faux plants. Your selection is above is so good! I envy your snowball bushes in your backyard and these faux ones are awesome! Lets hope we get a late spring rain that turns it all around!
Funny story I had to share. Many years ago, I purchased 2 spiral cyprus topiaries from Restoration Hardware. I took them out of my suv and put them in the garage until I could find tall urns for them. My husband came in told me he was unhappy with me for letting them sit in the garage and said I needed to water them or they would die. Ha! I knew they were good when it fooled him that they were not real but faux!
Enjoy this day and hope it is a good one!
SarahMay 12, 2022 at 7:30 am
Hi Danna! It really is a commitment to carry the water, ha. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I did like that the faux hydrangeas on the front porch feel very cohesive with our established snowball bushes in the backyard- they’re actually about to turn here soon (exciting)! I love hearing the story about your husband thinking the spiral topiaries were real… hey- that’s how you know they’re good! I didn’t even think to check Restoration Hardware for this post- such a good tip to look at their selection. Thank you for sharing! I hope you have a lovely day ahead :) xo
Aimee ColyerMay 12, 2022 at 5:52 pm
Can you remind me where you got your outdoor lights on the shed. I seem to remember they are solar powered. 🤔
SarahMay 13, 2022 at 10:43 am
Of course! They’re sold out now, but I was able to find them here: https://rstyle.me/+WTUtKMMYBJBkohjoZRFfIA … we’re still loving them! They are indeed solar powered :)
Aimee ColyerMay 14, 2022 at 7:30 am
Thanks so much! That’s really helpful!
SarahMay 17, 2022 at 8:27 am
Happy to share!
CarolJune 27, 2022 at 7:27 pm
For scale, what size are your pots flanking the shed? Was it easy to plant all of the live plants around the faux topiaries? They are beautiful additions!