Living Picture Frame




Introduction: Living Picture Frame

Here at my house, we buy plants all the time. We buy what is cheap and pretty and then a few months later, we realize that we forgot to water them. We run downstairs and find a poor shrivelled plant. This happened every time until we found succulents. Succulents are fairly cheap, cute, and barely need watered. I personally haven't watered some of mine in a month!

Best of all though, these plants make great decorations, and I have been searching for a good way to decorate with them. I have tried growing succulents in a multitude of ways and decided that my perfect succulent decoration/garden should:

  • Be able to be set up on a wall vertically, or set on a table
  • Be as lightweight as possible
  • Have colors and patterns that blend together

It took a lot of research and experimentation, but here it is! My vertical succulent garden.

Step 1: Tools + Supplies


  • Flathead Screwdriver (optional)
  • Pliers
  • Measuring Tape (if boards aren't pre-cut)
  • Wood glue
  • Staple Gun
  • Wire Cutters
  • A Saw (or anything used to cut boards, if they aren't pre-cut)
  • Paint (optional)
  • Sandpaper/Sander (optional, but handy if painting)

Frame Supplies:

  • 1 by 4 Boards (x4)
  • 1 Large, Flat Board
  • Chicken Wire
  • Old Picture Frame
  • Heavy Duty Plastic Feed Bag (or any type of plastic bag)

Planting Supplies:

  • Cacti Potting Soil
  • Pea Rock (optional, but can be used to fill in space)
  • Moss (optional)
  • Succulents

Step 2: Measuring + Cutting

(Skip this step if your boards are pre-cut to the size you need)

To start off your project, you are going to need your boards to be the right dimensions. Start off by measuring your picture frame. For the best results, you should flip it over so that you can measure the flat side. Make sure that you write these numbers down.

Next, measure out your board to see where you need to make the cuts. The dimensions of my picture frame were 13.5" by 11.5", so I cut two 13.5" boards and two 9.5" boards. This is because you have to subtract the 1 inch of the 13.5 inch boards off your width dimension. I would recommend that you take a straight edge and draw a line across where you want to cut to be more accurate.

You will also have to cut a flat board with the dimensions of the picture frame.

Now, you can cut your boards with whatever tools you decide to use. I personally use a table saw for the flat board and a miter saw for the 1 by 4's.

Step 3: Painting

If you don't want to paint your board and picture frame, you can skip this step as well, but I would recommend painting them, because it adds character and makes sure that the colors match. I personally used a purple tinted stain which you can buy at most stores.

Before painting your boards, you might want to sand them down. If you just bought your boards they are going to be more smooth and paint won't stick as well. Sanding them down will make edges for the paint to stick to and will make it so that you can apply less coats of paint.

DO NOT SAND YOUR PICTURE FRAME!!! This is very important because even if it is flat it will not look as nice as you will want it to and the original stain on it will get lumpy. Painting your picture frame will just take a few more coats.

Step 4: Start Assembling

To start of your assembling, take out your 1 by 4 boards and put them next to each other in a square formation. Make sure to have the shorter boards in between the longer ones (or however you had your boards cut to match your picture frame). Then, using this formation, take out your nail gun and put 1/2 inch nails in. With the nails is your gun carefully use it to piece them together.

Step 5: Making the Back

Now that you have finished your new frame, you can put the back on. Take your flat board and staple gun and every few inches, put a staple in the back, connecting the board to the frame. Make sure that while you do this, keep the staple gun on the board. If you leave the handle off of the board, you won't have enough leverage to get a good staple in. To finish off the back, cut a piece of a sturdy plastic feed bag (or a plastic bag) a little bit bigger than the dimensions of the frame itself. Next, wedge it into the bottom so that some bag still comes up on the sides. Then, flip the frame on its side and use the staple to gun to hold the bag in place.

Step 6: Soil

Now that you have your main frame created, it is time for the soil. For this step make sure that you have your good cacti soil. If you don't have enough, you can mix it in with succulent or normal soil, but the cacti soil will pack and stay better. All you have to do is fill in the frame with soil until it reaches less than an inch off the edge of the frame. This may look a little short, but don't worry, it will work.

Step 7: Chicken Wire

Chicken wire may seem a little bit much, but it is very important for keeping your succulents in place and for setting it up vertically. Start off by cutting off a piece of chicken wire a little bit bigger than your picture frame. Then, set it on top of your frame and cut it down so that there is one square on top of the wood part. Then, using your staple gun, put some staples into the board through the one extra square. You will notice that the staple doesn't go through all the way, you can just hammer those down and it will work the same.

Step 8: Picture Frame

To completely finish your frame, you have to add your picture frame. You have to not only use your nail gun here, but some wood glue. Take your wood glue and just make a line around the back of your picture frame. Then, carefully stick it on. The wood glue will work as a sort of seal for the frame. Next, take your nail gun (you can use the same size nails as you did for the 1 by 4 boards) and put a nail through the outside of the frame. This is very important because the wood glue alone won't work and you can't put a screw through the frame because of how delicate it is.

Step 9: Succulent Assembly

Finally! Everything else is done and now it is time for the fun part. To start off, take your pliers and cut a small hole in your wire and fold up your cut wires. Then, take a spoon or stick and stick it through the hole. Then, move around the dirt to create a hole. Now, before you put your succulent in, try to shake off as much dirt from the roots as possible. Then, carefully thread the roots in through the hole and after the succulent is in, bend the wires back down to hold it in place.

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    3 years ago

    Good idea.


    3 years ago

    Great! You have my vote!


    3 years ago

    That's beautiful!!!! Great Idea :)

    Alex in NZ
    Alex in NZ

    3 years ago

    Great idea, and well described. Thank you for sharing your idea! :-)


    3 years ago

    This is a cool idea, well documented and it looks charming!


    3 years ago

    This is such a neat idea. Great repeatable steps, thank you!