Planted Woodland Chair (easy)




About: I live in the hills in the middle of San Francisco, lucky me. Making things has always been a passion for me... from that first twig sculpture in summer camp. I love the momentum that DIY has garnered lo...

There is an area under my deck that doesn't get much sun so it was bare dirt for a long time; unfortunately it's the first thing you see when you come down the stairs into the yard.  At one point I added fern, but I wanted more so I made this planted chair as a focal point.  

You could complete the first stages of this project in a weekend, the last (optional) stage takes longer.  

This is my first Instructable, so I apologize in advance for any breeches in protocol....

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Step 1: Prepping the Chair

The chair was a black wrought Iron kitchen chair that I got on Craig's List for $10.  I thought the black was too strong so I painted the entire chair, including the twine seat, with Rustolium's Hammered Grey spray paint.  I sprayed a clear coat of UV inhibitor over that.  The paint cost $11.50  

All of the other supplies were things I already had, including the plants.  Shown is the spray paint, moss in a bowl (more on that later), and the coconut seedling starters you'll see in the planting step. 

The painting step took the longest due to dry time between coats; I did it over the course of a weekend.   

Step 2: Planting

The next step was pretty easy, and I had all of the materials on hand.  I took coconut fiber seedling starters and arranged them on the seat of the chair.  Then I piled a mixture of compost and dirt on and around the seedling starters.  

Next I took some succulents and planted them in the seed starters in a semi circle.  

Then I took some baby tears (ground cover) that were growing nearby and placed them on the dirt around the succulents.  I watered the whole thing with worm tea.

This process took a little less than an hour.  You could stop here and you'll have the same look as my first image, or... you can see why the moss is in the bowl.   

Step 3: Optional Step - Making Moss to Grow Up Chair Legs

This last step is optional and takes some time, but it's a nice touch.  I want moss to grow up the chair legs to give the effect of the chair almost growing out of the earth.  

To make the moss mixture I took moss growing in the area.  Moss from other  areas probably won't work as well, so if you don't have moss in your yard now you might have a hard time with this.  

First I shook out most of the dirt so I was left with just moss.  I mixed the moss in a bowl with a teaspoon of sugar and a bottle of beer.  Ideally you should run this mixture through a blender, but I don't have one so I shredded it as best I could and set it aside to marinate for almost 45 minutes.       

During that time, I took strips of landscape fabric about the length of the chair legs and threaded landscape wire through some small holes I made in the top and bottom of each strip so I can attach them to the chair legs later.  Then I watered a small area of dirt where I know moss will grow well.  I then pinned the strips of landscape fabric down using bamboo BBQ skewers.  I also put some baby tears around the edges partially to keep moisture in, but also because if the moss won't grow the baby tears will.  Landscape fabric works well for this because it holds moisture, put the shiney side down and use the fuzzy side for the moss.  

Once the moss mixture was done marinating, I spread it onto the landscape fabric strips.  I'll have to mist it every day or maybe every other day to keep it moist.  It takes a while for moss to grow so I won't be able to attach it to the chair legs for 2-3 months, but the moss will grow far better on the ground that it would if I attached it now.

Another alternative to the beer recipe is a yogurt mixture made the same way, some people either add or substitute buttermilk, and may add corn syrup for extra thickness.  I may try another set of test strips to see how the two recipes compare, I just didn't have any yogurt on hand.      

This step took a little over an hour and  tending the moss will take several weeks.  

Step 4: Ta Da

Here is the finished chair again, without the moss leg coverings.  It is a fairly easy project and a great way to use up some extra supplies.  I would say that a beginner could easily do the main project.  The moss making is a little trickier, but it's more about patience than skill.  

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed my Instructable debut!  Happy planting.   

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    13 Discussions


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks!! I'm actually getting ready to thin it out a bit, the succulents are thriving.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Cant wait to try this ....once our Stupid SNOW melts .
    I have two perfect chairs and just the right spot..Thanks again,
    Have a Fantastic Evening.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah! Do you have a old biscuit tin you can cut out of the bottom and than put in some chickenwire and a piece of molton! Then some dirt and succulents plants in it ! but I do not know how you could make the brim..


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Very sweet ! I`m looking at your photo and i am missing someting ( i a good way ;) ) You could make a hat and hang ik on the chair ( i am brain storming on how you can make the hat )


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Here in CA we use the Sunset Western Gardening system, I'm in zone 16. That means no freeze, mild wet winters, and warm-cool dry summers without humidity. I can grow sub-tropicals but not true tropicals, and I have at least something in bloom all year. We're one of the 5 Mediterranean climate areas of the world. I think that on the USDA scale were 10b, but we never use that scale here.

    This plant selection is more about the woodland (full to partial shade, moist) conditions under my deck. The rest of the yard is more of the typical sunny Mediterranean climate that we experience in the eastern half of San Francisco (the western side is where we keep the fog).


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, i just realized that if you look at the pictures it illustrates the difference really well. The chair with fern surrounding it in the finished pics shows the woodland conditions.

    The chair shown before planting in the grassy area shows the Mediterranean condition (lavender is just behind) and sub tropical (the Brugmansia behind the lavender in the far left corner).

    This concludes San Francisco Microclimates 101. ; )


    6 years ago on Step 2

    This is really beautiful! I would just be concerned that the paint would leach into your plants or soil. I wouldn't have any edible plants near by.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Step 2

    Thanks!!! The clear UV coating should keep the paint stable. My edibles are in the sunnier parts of the yard but I would agree that I wouldn't use painted items too close to edibles.