Taming the Overgrown Jungle

When our new homeowner moved into this updated houseboat on Lake Union, he inherited a professionally designed rooftop garden, with beautiful ceramic pots that enhanced the space – but there were over 30 of them, and it was hard to move around the outside of the home.

Overgrown and Tired

Through no fault of anyone, most of the plants had outgrown their welcome, and the containers looked scruffy.  The annuals had all died; only the hardiest of perennials like rosemary and lavender were clinging to life, the walkways had shrunk, the trees were stressed and the shrubs were blocking those stunning views.

It happens to the best of us, especially with our busy lives and distractions.


Setting up for Success

Like any garden project, the secret to success is to prepare the soil.  Our first job after assessing which plants and which containers were to stay, was to remove all of the dead, woody plant material, prune back the shrubs worthy of keeping, and loosen the overgrown roots. We had to make some hard choices whether to save the pot or save the plant!  Then, over 20 cubic feet of new organic potting soil was brought in to improve the fertility and drainage. Many shrubs and trees “sunk” in their pots as the soil compresses over time.   Keep in mind that the only access to the rooftop was up the stairs!  We sure kept the place scrupulously clean on our way out.



Staggered Makeover

Because the homeowner wanted to install a drip irrigation system in the fall, we focused on a big impact with annuals for the first summer, knowing that they would be replaced later in the season with long-lasting perennials and new shrubs.  A husky-fan, many of the pots were an explosion of purple and gold.







We also wanted to enhance the North-facing front-porch with sweet shade plants, and provide some additional color.




And check out the transformation of this Piling Pot!  This little container gets no extra irrigation in the summer, and lives with me over the wet winter.

I can’t wait to show you how we transformed this space for winter, curating and rearranging the containers for a better flow.  The new winter-hardy plants were selected for easier care and longevity, saving the homeowner money, while providing sumptuous color for our grey skies.

2 thoughts on “Taming the Overgrown Jungle

    1. Thanks! It was a big undertaking, especially with a July 4th deadline to enjoy the fireworks! But gardens take time to settle in and grow. It will be fun to see how this develops.

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