My Happy Place, a Small Shady Garden

12 Materials
3 Days
After taking down a rotting deck I was left with a small area between the steps and the air conditioner that had no direct sunlight. This weeks challenge was the perfect solution!
Once I got the debris cleared out I realized an old wooden bench that used to sit on the deck might fit in the space and it did.
I took some old round pebble stones and broke them in smaller pieces. By breaking them I could place them closer together to make a pad for the front of the space.
Next I bought two sheets of wood lattice.
Next issue was how to disguise the AC units. Went to Lowes and got two sheets of wooden lattice. I also got some wood pickets , they are used in the railing on a porch or deck. I put them around the lattice to make a panel. Then I stained it all do brown.
Growers outlet ”here I come”! Went looking for plants that love the shade. I got several ferns (autum fern), two different hosta and some pink impatiences. I got mondo grass tomput around the stones and give the affect of grass.
after I put some fertilizer mix on the dirt I planted all of the plants. I added a hummingbird feeder too!
the last thing I did was to paint the lattice behind the bench. The white was a distraction for me and I had stained the wood lattice so I painted the lattice brown too. The stones in front are a path from my porch door to an area where I have my hose attached and my potting supplies. I did stain the pavers Brown. Tired of all the gray look. I love my new space!

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Frequently asked questions

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  9 questions
  • Gramcracker Gramcracker on May 11, 2018

    I have my unit serviced every year. Did you put an access door in?

  • Linda Rager Woitas Linda Rager Woitas on May 11, 2018

    How did you anchor it down? I love this idea! I want to do this and would love to know how you attached it.

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 12, 2018

      It isn’t anchored except by its own weight. The two side pieces are about 5’ and it works great. The front piece covers two units so when you connect the two sides to the front it keeps it very stable.

  • Suzanne Suzanne on May 11, 2018

    Really handsome seating area. Have you thought about the fact that the screened area hiding the AC unit could be cut to the same height as the under porch screened area to be made visually to match almost exactly?

    • Adina Fulsom Adina Fulsom on May 11, 2018

      I agree! It would be more pleasing to the eye and would still be high enough to wall off the air conditioner. Good point!

    • Alradborn Alradborn on May 11, 2018

      I believe she probably kept that height because it also covers the utility boxes on the house, smart thinking!

  • Cheri Tanner Cheri Tanner on May 11, 2018

    I agree with you Cathy Clark-Fitzpatrick. I wanted to see some clever way to hide an AC Unit and all we see is a creative way to landscape. I applaud you for a good job done but did you have to dig a trench to put the black coils in so you could't see them? I noticed a brick walkway. Did you do that yourself? I'm confused! Did you put lattice around the whole AC Unit?????

    • Margaret Green Margaret Green on May 11, 2018

      Hometalk made the title about hiding the AC unit. Her actual title was about making a happy place shade garden. Hometalk has led you astray.

    • Archie Archie on May 11, 2018

      I assumed the lattice was to hide the a/c.

    • Cheri Tanner Cheri Tanner on May 11, 2018

      Thank you Margaret for that clarification, but the first picture is very mis-leading because you see the ac unit and this long black coil leading to the unit assuming it was about covering THE unit. It doesn't even show if she did anything to cover the ac unit. She did a beautiful job. I give her that. But when people are showing their projects that they've done, they need to be clear with, not only their words, but with their pictures also. They can't assume we are all in their head. You have to be able to be clear and articulate! I still state that it was confusing and mis-leading. My question still stands about the trench that they had to dig or not and the brick walkway. Was that dug up too? I hope Hometalk reads this and thinks about their enticing Topics next time. This isn't the first time they've done this!!!

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 12, 2018

      The challenge was to creat a reason for a small garden. My reason was that the space between my ac units and my porch stairs left this small dirt area with no way to get grass to grow. It never received any sun always in the shade. Though the garden was the focus, softening the appearance of the units eventually became part of the garden. It did not dig any trenches or move any wiring. I put retaining wall stones around the base of the two units to have a level place to sit the lattice panels on and to keep them off the ground. The lattice has 3 sides.... front, left side and right side. I measured the length of each side and kept the 4’ height since it came that size. I then took 2”x2” treated wood and cut four pieces for each panel. I glued and screwed the frame to the front of each piece of lattice. When I stood them up I drilled a hole through the top and bottom corners and I put a lag bolt through so they would tighten up. Once the sides were attached to the front it stood on its own. I then picked it up and sat it on the stones. The stain was just a personal preference. As an artist I like the darker richer color to help it blend into the back ground. I hope that will help those who want to try it. If there are any other question I am happy to answer them for you!

    • Cheri Tanner Cheri Tanner on May 12, 2018

      Judymgibbs....beautiful project. It was very time consuming, I can tell that. Great way to use up your backyard space. A "Place for You" Happy Mother's Day!!!!

  • Lindsey Lindsey on May 11, 2018
    How did you secure the lattice around the A/C. It would need to be removed for servicing the A/C.
    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 12, 2018

      When I bolted the two side to the front it didn’t need to be secured. I put the retaining stones down first to keep it off the ground and to have a level surface to pu it on. The sides are deep enough to add weight on the backside. Doesn’t need to be anchored. Thanks for your questions!

  • 29207681 29207681 on May 12, 2018

    How can you muffle the sound?

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 12, 2018

      ours isn’t really loud. With ou porch so close to them I think we just became used to the sounds. Don’t really notice it anymore. I did use the larger hole lattice because the smaller hole sheet might make it harder for the ac units to get air to them. Hope that helps! Thanks for your wonderful!

  • Beth Trevino Beth Trevino on May 12, 2018

    I'm not sure what wood pickets look like but I assume they help keep the lattice upright? It looks like you used some stones to keep it stable as well? A great way to use your space and bench it's very pleasing to the eyes.

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 12, 2018

      Hi Beth. The pickets are 2”x2”x42” and they are treated wood. The long pieces on the middle top and bottom were 2”x2”x8’. We cut them to fit the length in front of both ac units. Once they were bolted together they sit right on the retaining stones. It is so easy to just pick it up and move it that I don’t have to take it apart to move it. The dark brown stain helps them blend into the background

    • Short Short on May 18, 2020

      Garden area looks nice. A pic of the air conditioner cover finished and in place would have been nice. Great job.

    • Diane Polander Diane Polander on May 31, 2021

      Absolutely love this !!! Looking for a spot in my yard to do this. Great job!!!

  • Sandra Hohenwarter Sandra Hohenwarter on May 15, 2018

    Just love, wandering if any other style of wood etc... would work in the same sense.

    Question, what did you do with the long black tubing. We have a long one. We have what I call an eye sore, on the front side it is connected to our down water pipe and just laying there.

    Would putting a top on it, be a problem for the unit? I would like to use it to hold something light, no plants, well maybe a tomato! lol

    Thank you

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 15, 2018

      Hi Sandra. Thanks for your comment. I think a picket fence might have more of a farmhouse look to it. You would have to be very aware of the finished weight though. It needs some weight so it can stand on its own and so it is still simple to move. I chose the lattice because I already had lattice running around the back and wanted it to blend in with that.

      The black plastic tubing is a water runoff from the gutter. I cut a small section on the bottom left corner of the lattice so I could put it under the porch. If you are looking for a way to disguise a tube like that I would recommend a pop up water drain. I have on on all the other drains that we have. You have to dig a place to lay the pipe first. Then there is a piece that attaches to the pipe to turn it up. The piece that pops up is the last to put on. When it rains the water will force the pop up open and it will drain from there. Ours works great and everything is under ground.

    • Kay Woods Kay Woods on May 19, 2018

      Where did you buy the tubing and pop off valve?

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 19, 2018

      Hi Kay, I got them both at Lowes. Thank you for asking!

  • Kay Woods Kay Woods on May 19, 2018

    I see a black hose, what is it and how does it help with drainage? Did you bury it?

    • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on May 19, 2018

      She says the hose is a water runoff from the gutter. We have them at church, installed to keep the gutters from drowning us when it rains hard. We have buried ours twice, but hoses keep working their way up to the top of the ground. The latest time, the guys laid boards across the buried hose, then put decorative rocks over them. Heavy rocks. So far, so good, for over six months. ☺️

    • Judymgibbs Judymgibbs on May 20, 2018

      Hi Kay, it is a tube that we attached to our gutter system so we could guide the water away from the house. We put it in when we built our old deck. I kept it in place even though we tore down the deck. I didn’t have to bury it. I just redirected it under the porch. Hope that helps.

    • Connie Gassner Connie Gassner on May 24, 2018

      If the black "hose" is connected to your AC then it is the copper refrigerant lines. Do not cut any part of it! Do not hang anything on it either. Sorry, but the lineset is a necessary "eyesore" of your cooling!

    • Connie Gassner Connie Gassner on May 24, 2018

      If the black "hose" is connected to your AC then it is the copper refrigerant lines. Do not cut any part of it! Do not hang anything on it either. Sorry, but the lineset is a necessary "eyesore" of your cooling!

    • Jex Jex on Jun 17, 2018

      It’s called weeping tile, it directs the water away from your building, if you put it in deep enough it doesn’t come up, my Husband my son and grandson put ours in from the side of our garage right down the middle of our back yard, works great, now our garden doesn’t get water logged.

    • Sandra Sandra on Apr 21, 2019

      I'd be careful directing the water UNDER the porch; will rot natural materials (wood) quicker and cause unwanted moisture issues (rusty screws/nails), not to mention creating a breading ground for bugs.


Join the conversation

2 of 110 comments
  • Alma Alma on May 19, 2021

    How inspiring - love your cozy little nook!

  • Patty Patty on May 20, 2021

    What a cozy nook, I love space like that , that look like they have been there forever and have stories to tell. May I suggest though moving the bird feeders? They look lovely there but the birds will be pooping all over your bench. Maybe keep the shepherds hook and hang a cute solar lamp? I love birds, feed them and made a special little garden under the feeders, the birds destroyed the area. Now there are only feeders there. Sigh.