Planters With Rocks or Hosta in Border Garden

So remember my front garden border? First I planted Endless Summer Hydrangeas but was inpatient and thought they weren’t doing well so I pulled them out–in hindsight I should have left them alone. Then, I planted boxwoods. The boxwoods got burnt or peed on and overall just haven’t been happy in the space.

My new plan was to plant the boxwoods in zinc planters and move to our someday brick patio/driveway. The planters I originally wanted were absurdly expensive. And then this spring Terrain started carrying fiberglass versions–they look like zinc, have a drainage hole, frost-proof, affordable and are relatively light. Terrain offers a number of different styles but I thought the Manor Planter fit the style of my house. I got four ON SALE a few weeks ago.

Next spring, we are planning to brick our driveway and put up a fence along the whole side of our house (similar to this old photo we found) pending historic society approval. I figure I can scatter the boxwoods around the driveway and decorate the space like a patio in the summer months and then rearrange in the winter so we can pull our car into the driveway.

A few weeks ago Greg and I were digging up the boxwoods and I started to think I kinda liked the way the planters looked resting in the front garden bed. Maybe it dressed the space up or the height added something that lacks in the space currently. And then I thought, what about laying small gray river rocks on the ground and leaving the planters there?

But here’s where my idea gets tricky. Next spring the house is getting painted, shutters added, and window boxes are going on the front of the house. I think once the exterior is complete the planters will be too cluttered and tall in the space. So maybe the idea doesn’t work for the long-term but maybe they can stay put for this summer?

My hostas I planted in the back of my house have done great but I planted them way too close together. I was thinking I could break the plants apart and move them to the front garden once the boxwoods planters got moved to the back brick patio. And add in some ferns in the back for height?

Ug, so annoying! And yes, I feel like the crazy plant lady in town! I wish I had a simple solution that would have worked the first time around. Below some photos and inspiration.

Boxwoods in fiberglass planters.

Hostas in my back garden growing too close together.

A rock path at the Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Ma.

A rock path next to a brick sidewalk in Salem, MA

Beautiful brick driveway with zinc planters in Salem, MA

Shade garden in Salem, MA

Inspiration for my fence project in Marblehead, MA. Note the fence can be opened and closed over the driveway. Good for kids!

Related Posts:
Gray Rock Garden Paths
Brick Driveway with Hosta Border
Old Photos of House with Fence

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  1. First off, congrats on your baby Frances!

    I have to say I love your home. It seems to me though that box planters look best on level ground, as in one of the pictures you provide. In front of your house, the ground is slanted, so the plants are going up on an incline, which goes against the structure of the home. It just looks a little odd to me.

    I haven’t read through your blog enough to know if you are able to grow plants directly from the soil there, but I would recommend large bushes (with some pink flowers might look nice) that encompass the area, so it’s not a linear structure.


  2. Love the idea of hostas – I’ve got lots but here in the UK we have such a problem growing them because of all the wet weather which brings out the snails and slugs – at the moment my hostas have been decimated not one leaf left intact due to the amount of slugs around! Look around you can get some great bluey/grey hostas that look so effective next to the lush green ones.

    I love the idea of greens, pale blues and whites in a garden which would be perfect for you too.

    Whatever you choose I’m sure it will look great.
    Have a great week.
    Fleur xx


  3. Katie, your house looks great. Historically, houses right on the street did not have foundation planting, as we know it. I love the rocks–or maybe shells. Have seen bleached out beach shells used that way. And crushed oyster shells were used for paths in shore towns. If you go that route, you could still have planters with chartreuse hosta, such as “Stained Glass” on either side if the door.

    You will make it look wonderful whatever you choose to do. And with a baby, you won’t want to have a lot of maintenance on your plate.


  4. I’d go with the hosta too, but maybe add some small perennials to fill in under them and in the spring before they are up – such as sweet woodruff.


  5. If you are going to have planters have only two, flanking the door. More than that, and arranged as they are just ‘serially’, looks odd, arbitrary, a non-sequitor, if you will.
    I’d love to see hollyhocks massed against the house wall. Would it be sunny enough there?


  6. I did a test with the hosta tonight and I liked it! The contrast of chartreuse greens and cool gray hostas I have give the front of house more life.

    Now who wants to help me move the planters?


  7. I like the idea of a hosta border. The plants you have look lovely. They are easy enough to divide and transplant. Don’t forget, many varieties will give off tall flower stalks. You can cut them, or let them grow. Right now mine have purple flowers on stalks that are about three and a half feet tall. The only thing is that they completely die off to the ground after the fall (the varieties I have do anyway). So it might look sparse. But then you could bring your planters back!


  8. as much as i like the river rock, i say go with the hosta border garden and window boxes. we’re renting while in toronto, and we’ve already done a bit of landscaping because the front yard is driving me crazy. i’m planning on hosta plants to border the icky asphalt driveway.


  9. Go with hosta. Skip the ferns. Keep it simple. It looks like you do not have very much room. Hosta grow to be huge. Plus, you siad there are window boxes in the future. Which will give you hieght.


  10. Katie, so glad that you are back! Been following you for some time, truely enjoying every post.

    Congratulations, to both you and Greg upon your recent nuptials and the expectant arrival of your first child. I sensed, with all of your wonderful posts and enthusiasm, something special was going on in your life!

    As for the front of the house, I too, have been struggling with my recent hard-scaping and how to fill in the blanks. My vision, for your front, is so very clear to me and I think it will speak to your preferences also.

    Plant yews, 3 or 4 starting from under the 1st window till the end. I know that they are not sexy, but they grow fast, are hardy, can withstand the hot summers, freezing winters, snow pile and salt. In a year or two, they will grow together, dense, like the boxwood you like. Easy to trim, low in front of the windows and very little maintenance. Easy to place white lights on for X-mas!

    I envision, the two front windows as your playground. Changeable with the seasons. Small shell wreathes, with ribbon in summer, pairs of items placed inside the sills in winter ,whatever your heart desires. You are so good at this!

    Blank space to the left of the door. Again, your choice, but vertical, same height as the door. Thinking a metal trellis, with clematis, a part shade prefering climbing yellow rose, a beautiful pot, navy or yellow, with a large exotic plant (canna, elephant ears, papyrus?), a flag pole with flags that you could change out with the seasons. You could underplant, with annuals, easily taken care of, given the small space and very small hosta (mouse ears),as large hosta gets scrapy looking mid-summer, if you didn’t want watering maintenance.

    I would invest in 2 window boxes, for the upper 2 windows. Make sure that they are waterwise. Plant with annuals, and fill in with trailing plants, such as black-eyed susan vine or nasturum. Probably will have to water daily, but easy with opening the window.

    I would also echo, whatever you decide, with your great ideas, on the window above the door, with whatever you decide on the 2 first floor windows.

    I also envision, a beautiful plaque or ornament, above the front door to tie it all up. I hope this is all not too much, but I see it. You will have a good foundation, freedom to express yourself, and very little maintanence, in a difficult like enviroment. It’s tight, hot, has very little circulation and brutal winters!

    Let me know what you think?

    Thanks, Sue Plutksy


  11. Mary & David’s house!

    I think your house would look lovely with some river rock where your planters are and overstuffed window boxes.

    The planters look wonderful there, until your exterior is done.