Take your gardening skills to new heights with this creative DIY living chessboard! With plants as chess pieces and striking black and white colours, your garden is guaranteed to grab attention, invite engagement, and spark plenty of conversation. In addition, you’ll get to add a couple of really special beauties to your collection that you otherwise may not have considered.
Get your hands on some large black and white tiles, available at your GCA Garden Centre and local home depo stores. When choosing tile slabs, go for ones that are nice and big as they will need to stand out when your pot plants are placed on top of them. You may also want to consider tiles with a protective layer to prevent scratches, or go for concrete slabs and simply paint them yourself using good quality water and weather-resistant paint.
Top tip: While you’re out, grab an easy clean mop or broom to keep near your chess set to ensure it’s always play-ready and looking neat.
Try this: If you’re strapped on space, you could always create a mini version of this game with tiny pots and succulents. Play on a table or transform the courtyard.
Your traditional chess pieces will be pot plants, of course! Go for containers with good drainage made from lightweight materials that won’t be too heavy to move. A lovely selection of pots is available at your GCA Garden Centre with treated compost and potting soil to go with them. If you’re on a budget, you could always go for inexpensive plastic containers and paint them instead. Don’t forget your saucers to avoid messy spillages during watering.
Top tip: To keep track of which plant represents which chess piece, don’t move the pot saucers from their original placement when playing. Instead, use a marker to label the saucer and i’s matching plant on the board. This way, you’ll never forget which plant is being played as which piece and where to return it to after playing.
Try this: To easily distinguish your pawns from royalty, choose smaller and larger pots to make the pieces stand out easier. This will also add height to the space while emphasising your most prized plants.
We used the following plants for our living chessboard. There are many other white and black beauties available at nurseries, so ask a friendly assistant to help you gather your collection.
Pawns: Black Petunia
Knight: Pepperomia (caperata)
Bishop: Ficus Abidjan
Queen: Colocasia Black Magic
Pawns: Petunia Shock Wave White
Bishop: Gaura Belleza White
King: Salvia faranacea White
Remember to position your chessboard in a sun to semi-shade location that will suit the sunlight needs of all your plants. To ensure their individual needs are being met, create a little fertiliser and maintenance schedule according to each plant’s preferences. Once you’ve done the initial admin and set up, this living chessboard game is sure to serve you with timeless décor and constant fun in the garden! Life is a Garden, so play a little!
Embrace bedless gardening and embark on a creative container adventure, right on your stoep!
Who said that beds make the garden? Well, no one, actually! And that’s great news for the balcony, stoep, and patio gardener. You can still enjoy all the glory of gardening by playing with pots, experimenting with the colour wheel, using vertical planters, and adding a few fabulous blooms.
Using different sized and shaped containers add height and variety to the space, while also giving you an opportunity to play with different styles. Incorporating hanging baskets is another simple way of adding greenery to areas with limited space. Using woven baskets (instead of plastic) with spikey foliage will bring in some lovely texture. Spend some time in the pots and basket section next time you’re at the nursery and see what jumps out at you!
*Play away: Try using cute teapots or gumboots as planters to add a little character and fun to your space.
*Go green: You could upcycle cans to use as pots and decorate as desired to suit your existing décor (this is a fun one for kids too).
*Top tip: Ensure your planting containers have good drainage to avoid root rot.
A great way to bring in more life to your patio paradise is by planting gorgeous, blossoming blooms. Imagine a couple of flower pots neatly arranged along the lonely stoep wall or outdoor windowsill. Any available space is an opportunity for flowers to flourish. Get this lush look by using the Thriller, Filler, and Spiller (TFS) concept to create the ultimate flower pot.
*Try this - TFS: One upright focal point plant as your Thriller, a mounded plant as the Filler around it, and then something to trail over the edge as your splendid Spiller.
Strawberries and cream anyone?
Grow your own reminder of the sweeter things in life and play with the colour wheel in pots. Incorporate a delicious variety of deep reds and indulgent cream hues to create your own sweet escape in a container. Using the trusty TFS planting method, here’s how to create your desert pot:
*Colour wheel creations: For the easy-going stoep, blend foliage hues to compliment your outdoor furniture and decor. For the more popping patio, use completely contrasting flower colours for a dramatic look.
The Fuchsia Bella is simply stunning and makes for a picture-perfect pot plant. They grow as a compact, bushy, and deciduous shrub with ovate, toothed, dark green leaves. You can expect a sensational flower show throughout summer with blooms varying in shades of red, pink and purple. They enjoy sun to semi-shade and grow best in moist, fertile soil.
An empty wall is simply an invitation to bring it to life! All you need to do is to secure a few pots against the wall in a symmetrical grid style, leaving a little space between each pot (4 pots across by 4 pots down is a good start). Cascading ferns and creepers take care of the rest and will soon cover the wall or frame windows and doorways beautifully. Vertical planters bring the garden bed to you, are great space savers, and add a modern feel to the space.
*Plant picks: Black-Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is an all-time favourite flowering vine. Climbing Snapdragons (Asarina) work well in vertical planters and living walls.
Instead of just using bottled braai spice, imagine snipping some fresh garnish for your guests! Having herb pots around are rather handy for a little fancy flavour and is by far the most nutritious way to spice up your braai.
Another way of utilising your bedless patio space is by adding a water feature. Running water creates a calming, relaxing atmosphere and helps to bring in that out in nature feeling. Two-tier features add some nice height to the space too.
There are so many creative ways for you to get your patio in bloom and booming with life. You can still fulfil all your gardening cravings, despite the lack of traditional gardening beds. Day trip to your local garden centre for flowers and containers and see where the adventure takes you. For more gardening trends and inspiration, visit Life is a Garden and explore your world!