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Articles with Useful Information on Concrete Garden Accessories and Garden Decor

This American Systems Built concrete garden planter was installed in a courtyard utilizing a step by step procedure and specific installation techniques.

Frank Lloyd Wright Comes to New Orleans

A step by step guide on how to install large cast stone planters.

Congratulations! You have chosen one of the finest garden planters from one of the most esteemed designers known.  Frank Lloyd Wright not only designed great structures but indeed created magnificent garden planters and garden designs. He is recognized the world over as the most prestigious architects in history. Proper installation of these garden planters is necessary for you to enjoy the most from your investment.  This article will describe the step by step instructions to effectively install the American Systems Built Vases. We will review the steps you will need to know for delivery, uncrating, transporting, and assembly of these stunning garden planters.


Now that you have prepared your garden for receipt of your concrete garden planter you are ready for delivery. The freight delivery company will call you the day before your delivery to make sure there will be someone available to accept the delivery. When your planters arrive the delivery person will ask if there is a particular are at the curbside you wish the crate to be positioned. The crate will only be set on the curbside of your home. This means that, in most cases, this will be an open space on the street. After unloading the crate it is time for you to inspect the crate and contents. You inspect the crate as it is without any uncrating or unwrapping. Inspect the crate and look for any signs of damage to the crate boards or wrapping. The crate boards should be intact with no fractures, or large dents. The plastic wrapping seen around the vases should be intact. There should be no rips or displacement of any kind of the plastic wrapping. If there is any damage, write on the delivery receipt an exact description of what you see. When you sign the delivery receipt your will receive a copy.


If you have purchased more than one planter, one planter will usually be positioned on the top with the other at the bottom. If this is the case of your crate you should carefully uncrate the top portion first, unload the base and the urn and then proceed with uncrating the bottom planter. You will need the following tools to uncrate your garden planter: hammer, wedge or crow bar, and scissors. You may also use a saw which is optional, but special care must be used when operating large tools which could damage the planter. Also, if electric tools are used please follow all safety instructions. Take special care not to saw near or around nails embedded in the wooden planks. Using a crow bar carefully remove the top covering. This should come off relatively easy. Next remove only the wooden diagonal planks that cross the sides of the top receptacle. You will only have to remove the diagonal planks the top receptacle from the side you intend to do the unloading. Do not remove or cut the vertical support planks. The vertical planks need not be removed and should remain intact to support the crate until unloading is completed. Do not remove the bottom diagonal planks until the top receptacle is unloaded an only remove the wooden planks from the side from which you will be unloading.

The top board can usually be removed with a hammer wedge or crowbar. The nails used to secure the crate will be submerged into the wood and the nail heads will not be available to remove with a hammer. The best way to remove the nailed planks is to use a crowbar and pry them apart. You may use a saw to saw the planks if preferred. If this is done take caution not to saw into a nail. Carefully inspect your intended saw line and make sure there are no nails present in either direction for at least 6 inches.

Once you have removed all the wood needed to unload the top planter you may begin to remove the clear plastic wrap securing the planter and the base. There are two layers of plastic wrap. The outermost layers secure the planter to the crate. The inner layers adhere to the garden planter itself and do not connect to the crate. Using scissors carefully cut the exposed outer plastic wrap and remove. Leave the inner layers intact as this will help protect the edges of the garden planter until installation is complete.


Unload the base and the planter onto a flat dolly. First, unload the base onto the dolly and then transport it to the area near to where it will be installed. Then unload the urn and transport it in the same manner. The top of garden planter should be placed touching the dolly with the bottom portion facing up. Otherwise, it should be unloaded upside down onto the dolly. This will add to the stability when transporting. The American Systems Built House Vase has no gripping surface and therefore you will most probably need assistance to unload the urn onto the dolly. At least two people are recommended to unload this urn. A flat dolly will provide a stable transport system. A vertical dolly is not recommended since stabilization would require securing the vase to the dolly and much more effort would be needed for transport.

Unload all of the items from the top compartment before beginning the uncrating of the bottom. Unload both the base and the urn from the top first.

Follow the same steps for the bottom garden planter and its base. Take care not to have any contact with any sharp or hard tools with the planter. Although these planters are very hard, they can be damaged with metal tools such as hammers and crowbars.


Before you transport your garden planters prepare an area to place your urns. A good type of surface to use is old carpet or other sturdy soft material.  You may lay the bases on any hard surface or concrete, however, do not do this for the garden urns. Since you will need to turn and reposition the urns into place the weight of the planter against a hard concrete surface can damage the edges. 

Transport the base first on a flat dolly to an area near where it will be installed and remove from the dolly. Then transport the urn of the garden planter to the same area. Do not attempt to transport both the base and urn at the same time with the same dolly. When transporting the garden planter urn one person should follow and hold the top portion of the garden planter to ensure it does not tip.


First, inspect your garden surface and ensure that it is level. You may use a carpenter’s level for this. Unlevel surfaces should be made level before installation.

Base Assembly

To ensure proper drainage the garden planters are elevated about 3 cm with rubber planter feed. Four to six rubber planter feet will arrive with your planter. Carefully turn each base onto a soft surface such as a carpet like material. Adhere the rubber planter feet to the base using clear water based silicone. Allow drying before proceeding with positioning the planter bases. Read the instructions on the can of silicone to determine the drying time.

After the planter feet are secured to the base position the base to the area of installation. Note that the base contains the Frank Lloyd Wright signature plaque. Position this side to the front.

Applying Silicone

Silicone is applied to both the planter base and inside the planter receptacle of the urn. Use clear water proof silicone. One container will be used per planter. Apply the silicone when you know you have the urns positioned in the lifting apparatus and ready for lifting. First, apply the silicone to the entire base head. Then apply enough silicone to the horizontal surface of the base head so that the entire horizontal surface will be covered. Some oozing of silicone is expected after positioning the urn to the base head, but do not apply so much silicone as to cause excessive oozing. Simply wipe off any excess silicone.

Positioning the Planter on the Base

Now that you have your bases positioned you are ready to lift and position your urns onto the bases. The urns must be lowered vertically onto the base heads. They should not be rolled are tilted into place. In order to vertically lower the urns onto the base head a lifting apparatus must be made. Please see below on how to make this simple lift out.

To attach the lift to the garden planters assemble the wooden braces together and place on the bottom side of the urn. The side of the lift should make contact with the planter 1/3 to ½ ways up from the bottom of the urn. Make sure there is a soft surface such as carpet to roll the bottom part of the urn. While holding the brace in place roll the planter onto the carpet keeping the four wooden brace lift locks intact. After the garden planter is upright, reposition the lift apparatus so that it is level on all sides. Now you are ready to lift the garden planter onto the base. You may lift the planter with two or more people from opposite sides of the planter. Lift the planter above the level of the top of the base top and then slowly lower the bottom planter hole onto the cone of the base. When complete check to see that the edges of the planter bottom align with the top of the base edge. Reposition as needed. Remove any excess silicone that may have oozed through the seam.

Finishing with Silicone

After the urn is positioned on the base and alignment of the edges is complete it is time to fill in the space between the planter and the base cone with silicone. With a caulk gun fill the entire space starting with the bottom most portions and working your way up the top. Be generous in the amount of silicone used. The aim is to fill the entire space. When the silicone reaches the top smooth out the silicone with your finger. Congratulations! Your installation is complete. Wait until the silicone is completely dry before adding soil or water.

Building the Lift Apparatus

Building the lift apparatus is quite simple and the apparatus can be used for any planter. The supplies you will need are 4 wooden 2 x 6” planks approximately 60 -65 inches in length, an electrical saw, a hammer, a wedge, carpet or similar soft material, and duct tape. The lift will create a square that is smaller than the mid portion of the garden planter. When the apparatus is positioned under the planter the lift will be created when the planter cradles inside this square.

First, you will need to determine the size of the square. Find a point anywhere on the planter that is about 1/3 to less than ½ the way up from the bottom of the planter. Measure the horizontal distance of the planter at this point. This is the length of the sides of your square. Next measure the width of the small sides of your wooden plank. This will be the length of the four grooves cut into the wooden planks. Find and mark the middle point of each plank. From each side of this mark measure ½ of the length of your square. For instance, if you determined that the length of your square was 20 inches, measure 10 inches from each side of your midpoint. This is the outer most portion of your square. Next, measure from this point toward the end of the wooden plank the distance of the side of your small sides of your planks. You should get an area that is about 2-3 inches in length on each board. This will be the site of each groove. The depth of the groove should be between 1/3 to ½ down. Measure this and mark. Check your measurements again for accuracy.

After your grooves have been marked using an electrical saw to cut into the groove. Cut several times to create what will look like a fork when finished. Only cut down to the mark you have measured. Using a wedge and a hammer, chisel out the small pieces of wood to open up the groove. The bottom of the groove does not have to be exactly even. Position the apparatus into the groove to check for a fit. Remove any extra wood as needed.

After all of the grooves have been made and the planks fit together, wrap the four sides of the square with carpet. Secure the carpet to the planks with duct tape.

Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions offer exceptional designs for landscapes and gardens. Installation of your concrete garden planter can sometimes be completed by the homeowner with the right tools and resources. Professional installers are recommended for installation of large garden planters. Whether large or small planters are chosen for your garden Frank Lloyd Wright replicas will bring you enjoyment for years to come.

Custom Made Outdoor Water Fountains

Custom two tired garden fountain using a bronze statue and the Essex Bowl garden planter. This fountain has four spillways and two pumps. One pump provides water to the statue and the other provides water to the Essex Bowl spillways.
Custom made outdoor water fountains offer a wide range of advantages to the homeowner or commercial business. Many customers have in mind their ideal water feature that would exactly fit into their outdoor garden or courtyard space. Custom made fountains have the advantages of providing the exact size and specific dimensions, custom colors, and many other design features that can enhance the ease of use and enjoyment of the fountain. The water fountain seen here was produced in 2010 for a customer in Michigan. The process for creating a custom water fountain is quite simple and anyone can do it. All it takes to get started is just an idea of what you may be your ideal fountain.
Like many other customers, this client had a focal point which inspired his design. The bronze statue seen on the top of this custom fountain was the first item that gave him the inspiration. Although this statue provided the initial inspiration for this fountain, it is not necessary for you to have a statue to create your custom garden fountain. Having decided that this statue should be at the top of the fountain the client also envisioned water spilling out from the statue. This was his starting point which led him to the next step which was to find the main garden urn that would contain the fountain.
Almost any garden urn or planter can be used to create a garden fountain. If your planter is already made, however, you will have to modify it by drilling holes to accept the pump fittings and tubing. Modifying an existing urn has its risk of cracking the entire planter rendering it useless not only for a fountain but for a planter. Even if such modifications can be made the process of creating the holes may weaken the integrity of the planter making it much more vulnerable to freeze-thaw events and eventual cracking. Such modifications also require special equipment and tools which most homeowners do not have handy. When fountains are custom made all of the holes for pump fittings are made right into the mold and casting. This includes the holes for the pumps and the spillway groves that provide narrow water spouts to pour over the fountain. For this fountain, our client chose the large Essex Bowl as the main urn. The Essex Bowl has a sleek modern design which provides for a modern type look. Now after having chosen his main urn he described what his fountain would look like. He wanted the statue at the top of the bronze statue centered and raised in the Essex Bowl. He also wanted water to pore over in four points on the rim of the fountain.
To raise the bronze statue we created a custom pedestal to sit inside the Essex Bowl. This pedestal had custom made fittings that gave access to pump tubing and other features that enabled the fountain to operate properly. The spillways were then designed in four places equal distance from each other. We provided the recommended width and depth of the spillways to the client. Another pedestal with custom features was then crafted to raise the Essex Bowl within the main water reservoir. Custom colors were decided by the client and draft diagrams were provided. These diagrams were crucial in providing the basis for the evolving fountain. Near the end of completion of the design, the client then could see that the statue should sit on a round disc on top of the top center pedestal. Diagrams were again made and we were then at the final stages of the design.
The final stage included deciding on the exact specifications of the holes for the pump fittings. Although some homeowners may be able to set up a garden fountain and determine the pump size and provide specifications for the size and placement of holes and fitting, it is recommended a professional fountain person provide this service. These professionals can often be found in local pool companies. With the fitting specifications confirmed the design was complete and production was begun. Customized molds were made for all pieces of the fountain. This not only provided specific and customized fittings but also ensured the durability and strength of the fountain.
Anyone with an idea of what they want in a fountain can create one. With the professionals at Blue Leaf and Nichols Bros Stoneworks, we can provide you with your very own customized outdoor water fountain that is reasonably prices and produced within weeks.

Tired Essex Bowl Custom Fountain

Custom made two tire concrete garden fountain with bronze statue on top was made for a homeowner in Michigan. The fountain uses the Large Essex Bowl, custom made pedestals and a custom made round dis which supports the bronze statue.

Designing Your Courtyard or Patio

Wescott house garden planters used in the design of an open courtyard provides the ability to have greenery in an mostly bricked in outdoor space.
It may come to no surprise that a well-planned design for your courtyard or patio will provide you with the most expedient, sustainable and cost effective outcome. Here we will outline a simple process that will lead you to your unique desires for your garden space.  With a well thought out plan you will be confident in the choices you make both what you may physically change and any purchases required.
Courtyards are spaces that have borders either of walls adjacent to the courtyard or tall fences. These are usually the most private types of patios. Although there are many types of patios such as those extending from a house, free standing and pool patios, all of the same principles can be used in the process of building your dream garden space.

The first question to ask is the most crucial. Who is going to use this space and how are they going to use it. There are many ways that homeowners utilize their patios and this will determine most of your decisions in creating your garden.  Will you be using your space to entertain guests? Will you be dining in your garden? How many people would you like to entertain at once? Do you want your garden private? How much maintenance are you willing to provide for upkeep? What type of feeling do you want when you enter your garden? Relaxed? Excited? Peaceful?  Is your patio going to be for you only or is there a possibility the house will be sold in the future? What elements are up for change? Can walls be painted or not? Can the pavement be renovated or not? What aspects of the courtyard do you value most? Do you want a fountain and if so where might you place it? Is gardening important to you? Do you like plenty of color with flowering perennials or would you rather low maintenance shrubs hedges and trees? While you may already have some of these answers quite well determined it would be good for you to ponder over the possibilities for a while to sharpen you most specific desires?  A good way to do this is to look at different magazines, online sites or even visit homes that you admire. Valuable knowledge comes from reviewing these gardens, whether on print or in person. Not only will you come up with ideas of what you do want but you will accumulate a list of things that you do not want. This is important because a perfectly pleasing garden can be uninviting if it contains even a few elements that are dissatisfying.

Now that you have sufficiently evaluated your likes, dislikes, needs and desires you should be able to come up with a list of words that describe your garden for each adjective you have you can come up with nouns or things that will fit that particular description.  It could look something like this:

Exciting and invigorating – colorful plants and or furniture

Relaxing and tranquil- vines, outdoor water fountains, comfortable furniture

Clean and uncluttered- rock gardens, contemporary fountain designs, contemporary furniture, use of only a few colors, few flowering perennials, use of evergreens, stepping stones

Having come this far you should get a good idea of what your garden will look and feel like. Now let us put it into action. Space is the final decision maker in much of what you decide to put in your garden. The first space that you will encounter is the pathway or doorway leading into your courtyard. Ask yourself what that would look like considering your preferences.  Some ideas are the use of gravel, pavers or stepping stones. If the pathway is a cement walkway consider staining the pathway and or placing pavers on top of the cement. This can be done quite easily by most homeowners. The only caveat to altering anything at ground level is sufficient water drainage.
If windows are part of the pathway consider window boxes. The type of box and kind of plants you place can really create the mood and atmosphere that you will experience when entering the garden. These pathways can be a wonderful way to create unique transitional spaces leading to your garden. The purpose of the transitional space is to inform the garden guest that there is a distinct change coming. Transitional spaces done well will enhance a person’s first impression of the garden as they enter.

There must also be available space for your guest. Determine the average amount of people that would be in your garden. If you already have furniture in your garden then you may already know exactly what areas need to be free.  Now determine the spaces for which you can alter or add items such as plants, trellises, garden planters, concrete garden fountains, and any additional furniture.  Consider the size of such items as they should logically relate to the space they have been placed. You would not want an excessively large garden fountain in a very small space. Your furniture should also be appropriate for the area as well. There should be free space for which to move about the garden without feeling closed in.

Garden planters offer a great way to add plants to a courtyard which has no free ground for planting. Consider the size, shape, and color of the planter and make sure it fits in with your total design scheme.
Concrete garden fountains are a popular element for many gardens. They have long been used in throughout history as one of the must haves in a relaxing garden. The site of the trickling water and the soothing water sounds so pleasing. Some considerations here are electrical and plumbing access, available space and the style of the fountain. This is a good time to think about if the property will likely be sold in the near future.  Ask yourself will this fountain be acceptable to most in the market wanting this type of house. If your property and garden have exceptionally unique features, strong consideration should be given to custom made fountains.

The furniture you select should reflect the style and feel of your garden. If you anticipate spending many hours in the garden at a time, chairs and seats should most probably be cushioned. Fortunately, there are many products that are durable, long lasting and provide the same degree of comfort as any indoor piece of furniture. Choose the color carefully as well. The color of garden furniture should accent colors already found in the garden and near the house.

Plant selection is a very important element. First, your plants need to be able to survive or even thrive in your climate. This will save you a lot of time and money. It also conserves water in sensitive areas. If you want low maintenance plants your best choice is to go with evergreens, shrubs, succulents, and cacti. Many of these plants offer a wide range of color but not as much as flowering perennials. Flowering plants should be perennials in your area. This will decrease maintenance time and provide you with more satisfying greenery. Think about your color scheme. You may only want to go with only one or two types of colors for most of your garden and add different types of annuals throughout the season for highlights.

Designing your courtyard garden can be an exciting adventure. At first, it may feel overwhelming, but not every part of your design needs to be implemented in one season. Take several seasons for implementation and enjoy the process s of your creation. This will also be easier on the pocket book. Whether it is the completion of your garden or the journey it takes to create it, keep in mind the purpose of it all is to enjoy.

Choosing Your Garden Planter

An Oak Park Studio garden planter installed at a residence. The tan color was selected as it matched the stone material used for the exterior of the home.
Container gardening is becoming increasingly popular as homeowners discover the low maintenance advantages it offers in addition to providing unique landscape design features.  Concrete planters also have the advantage of adding significant value to a home.  Landscape features such water fountains can also be of great benefit.  Here are a few benefits of using concrete garden planters in your landscape design.

Design Features
The design features of these planters offer a wide array of advantages such as drainage for water and various sizes for varying garden spaces.  Prestigious designers such as Frank Lloyd Wright offer designs specifically created for home landscapes.  These designs have stood the test of time and have proved themselves to be well suited for many different types of gardens for over a century of up and down fashion fads.

Recent advances in concrete technology have allowed artisans to produce concrete planters and fountains that are extremely durable and long lasting. Poured concrete had the disadvantage of low tensile strength making it susceptible to cracking during stress. The freeze/thaw phenomena are the most common of this event.  The next most common form of stress is root growth from installed woody plants. Fortunately, the process of cast stone using the dry tap method has enabled us to produce extremely durable concrete garden features. Freeze thaw cracking is no longer a concern.  The durability of these planters gives you the peace of mind to choose any tree or shrub without regard to aggressive root growth.  The homeowner can be confident that these planters will be as useful for them as well as future homeowners.  It is no surprise that cast stone concrete has targeted by many commercial businesses and city municipalities.

Protection against Theft
Concrete is naturally heavy.  Even empty planters are too heavy for theft. Add soil and plants or trees to the container and it is virtually impossible for anyone to take off with your installed planter.

Increased Home Value
It has long been known that landscaping increases home value. It also increases curb appear making it easier to solicit many prospective buyers to view your property.

Low Maintenance
Cast stone planters are easy to maintain. They can be left alone to acquire a natural patina or they can be washed by several methods to keep their original new appearance.

Color Options
The Frank Lloyd Wright Collection offers five standard colors. Custom colors are available for other lines of concrete planters.

Here are a few points to consider when choosing your garden planter.

Size: The size of your cast stone garden planter should complement your garden space not overwhelm it. Although large planters are absolutely breathtaking they are not appropriate for small gardens, patios or courtyards. The large sizes are better appreciated when there is a large garden space or open landscape. If you have any questions about the appropriate size for your garden planter, you may Contact Us for advisement.

Design: While most any design will complement most gardens, some designs lend themselves best when elevated. You may want to consider using a pedestal for some Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions. Others are quite suitable for ground placement. See below what designs are better when seen at or above eye level. Note that some can be used for both.

Planters for Ground Level   
American Systems Built Vase                                                     
Allen House Vase                                                                                                                                                            
Johnson Wax Building Vase                                                        
Oak Park Residence Vase                                                            
Planters for at or above Eye Level
Allen House Vase
Dana House Vase
Johnson Wax Building Vase
Oak Park Residence Vase
Oak Park Studio Vase
Robbie House Vase
Westcott House Vase
Westcott House Pergola Vase

Color: The Frank Lloyd Wright reproductions of garden planters come in five standard colors. Although color choices are essentially a matter of personal preference, the most popular color is limestone. If you have doubts about what color to choose, limestone is probably your best choice. Other colors are available and used primarily to match other garden ornaments already present or to coordinate the color of outside structures. Custom colors are available for other lines of concrete garden planters; the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation has authorized the five standard colors of Limestone, Pewter, Cream, Terra Cotta and Tan.

Garden Location:  The most appropriate location for your planter is an important consideration and you should keep this in mind when considering which design is most appropriate for your garden.  If your planter is large you may want to decide on a relatively permanent location. Large planters can be moved but will probably require more than one person to lift and relocate.

Surface: Planters should be set on a solid level surface. If you wish to place large planters directly on the ground, a solid cast stone base is recommended. You may also make your own base by removing soil and adding bricks (or some other hard solid stone or masonry product.) Just be sure that the base you create is suitable for direct contact with soil and is appropriate for the weight of the planter. Use a leveling tool to ensure the surface is level.

Installation: Installation of small concrete planters is easy enough for almost any homeowner. Medium and large planters will require either more people or professional landscapers or someone experienced in landscape gardening. The Article, How to Install Large Concrete Planters has detailed instructions on the installation procedure. 
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