Asked on Jun 22, 2015

What to do with window wells?

I have several window wells which I have recently cleared out of rock and debris from the previous owners of my home. They look like this picture except there are no rocks in the bottom.
I am trying to come up with an idea for some cute ways to decorate them. Most get indirect sunlight and a few get no sunlight at all.
I have been considering adding some rock and some succulents. Should I paint the metal? If so, what color?
I'd love some ideas. I'm truly at a loss. I don't mind using artificial plants for those window wells which get very little or no sun.
I'm not super crafty but I do like plants and I have an artist background. Please post pictures and ideas.
  21 answers
  • Betty Gramse Betty Gramse on Jun 22, 2015
    I know you at least want rocks in the bottom. Because when it rains the dirt and mud will splatter on the window. I learned that when we moved into our home. Succulents sounds like a great idea.
  • Anne fenske Anne fenske on Jun 22, 2015
    Betty ;When it rains lots it might fill with water and leak in the window; as this happened to us(Cdn) You might want to get a plastic cover for it and plant a row of perenials around.Don't know your climate, but ours also fills with snow and debree when windy.
  • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Jun 22, 2015
    We make simple wood covers to top ours to keep our basement dry. It looks great from the outside in our garden, and my cats like to lounge on them, but it stops any light from getting in. When I was younger, this is where I would break into the house if I forgot my key, but I'm too old for that now! I think the covers discourage intruders, as they are noisy to shift around.
  • Wanda.ll Wanda.ll on Jun 23, 2015
    Why not make wells out of the plastic you use for roofs( corrigated and in clear/ frosted color instead of white).It will bend and then light can come in. You then could have plants inside that due to sunlight coming in. Then as others said add a roof to keep rain out. Just and idea.
  • Becky Greenwald Becky Greenwald on Jun 23, 2015
    I would leave them clean, rocked in the bottom for drainage, and focus energy on the outside landscaping to minimize them. Unless you have large basement windows and the view from your basement matters, they're no focal point.
  • Shirley keast-crumley Shirley keast-crumley on Jun 23, 2015
    I would leave rocks in it then put some grass turf on top. It looks clean and tidy
  • Deb Deb on Jun 23, 2015
    I recommend the cover ideas. My brother has at his home and both skunks and rabbits end up getting in. Not fun getting them out.
  • Barbara Barbara on Jun 23, 2015
    I would not plant anything inside them. Keep the small rocks for drainage otherwise you will have a window leak. Best to leave alone as you don't want water in your basement.
  • Moonalisa Crabass Moonalisa Crabass on Jun 23, 2015
    I agree that you should retain the rock for drainage. Succulents would do ok, as long as you maintain do not want them to bind the rock and soil, causing drainage issues. I do like the idea of painting the outside. As you said you have an artist background, you could do a trompe l'oei or something whimsical. Look to your backyard landscape, furnishing, and decor, for inspiration on the painting :)
    • Bradley Marchant AG Bradley Marchant AG on Jun 23, 2015
      @Moonalisa Crabass I like the idea of painting something there... I even wondered about just painting the sky with some clouds.
  • Diana Ward Diana Ward on Jun 23, 2015
    We have those around the house we rent. The front ones have been covered with corrugated fiberglass panels that let the light in and keep the critters and leaves out. It looks like they built a simple wood frame to mount the panels on. The back ones have nothing on them and I wish they did! They quickly fill up with dead leaves, snakes and frogs! I've been thinking I might just buy a couple of those panels and set over the opening. I'll have to place a brick on top to keep the wind from blowing it off.
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Jun 23, 2015
    I agree with others in keeping them clean with rocks at the bottom. If you want a better view from inside, you could paint the interior surface whatever background color you like (if you don't want the existing white), light and bright maybe, and then paint flowers or whatever scene you'd like to see looking out your basement windows. could be different each window, or the same. You could paint rabbits, squirrels, or birds in your scene to liven things up. We have rusted metal window wells and I've thought about painting them white. We have metal grate covers over all our window wells after my husband had to rescue the second skunk. The metal lets some light in and keeps leaves and animals out. Water isn't an issue as long as we keep our gutters clean.
    • Bradley Marchant AG Bradley Marchant AG on Jun 23, 2015
      @Connie Mar That would be very cute. Painting squirrels and such. Also have wondered about some artificial flowers and plants in a window box. We'll see.
  • Dawn Voss Dawn Voss on Jun 23, 2015
    Make fairy gardens!
  • Bradley Marchant AG Bradley Marchant AG on Jun 23, 2015
    The above picture is not my current window well, but looks like it. I don't generally get water in them because they're partially obscured by an overhang of the house. Sunshine gets in there though. I emptied 10 years worth of leaves (About 8 inches of them) from one window and have sprayed it for bugs. The previous owners were not good on upkeep. I was thinking about adding rocks and artificial succulents? My window wells currently have no rocks, only dirt. I don't want it overloaded with things but hoping to make it a little nicer. The metal is unpainted so I wondered about even painting it like bright white, bright blue, etc. just to reflect more light into the room?
  • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Jun 23, 2015
    Keep in mind how you want to maintain the window well, too. No matter what, you'll still get spiders, webs, and other bugs. I like the idea of bright paint to reflect more light into the basement. You will want some rocks in the bottom for drainage. You can also purchase window well scenes if desired:
  • Kathy Sorrentino Kathy Sorrentino on Jun 23, 2015
    maybe get the picture that they put on the back of aquariums and put them on the inside of the well so you can see the picture from inside. just a thought.
  • Carol Houde Carol Houde on Jun 23, 2015
    Sorry to answer a question with another, but after the stone, what about keeping out snow? The covers sold in stores are flimsy and don't hold up. Any ideas?
    • See 2 previous
    • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Jun 25, 2015
      @Carol Houde We purchased ours from a local company that came out and measured before making them. Nothing about our house is regular, including our windows and window wells.
  • Janet Bragg-Shinabery Janet Bragg-Shinabery on Jun 23, 2015
    put flowers in them.
  • Roland Roland on Jun 25, 2015
    put a lad on it
  • Angel stoke Angel stoke on May 31, 2016
    What are window wells for, I don't think we have them in the UK.
    • Connie Mar Connie Mar on Jun 01, 2016
      @Angel stoke Window wells keep water out of windows that are below ground.
  • Swinnen Lisette Swinnen Lisette on Jul 01, 2016
    Yes, I would paint a landscape on it. something simple : blue sky, a few slopes in orange - ocre colors, each range of "hills" a little bit darker. On the outside, I would put some plants. or just some stones...
  • Gail Gail on Jul 01, 2016
    I have considered planting mint because I hear spiders don't like mint, and my family doesn't like spiders :).