You and your guests will stop for a second look crossing your thresholds this winter. Use your imagination and create your own signature doorstep features this winter. At Home Landscape Designer Rachael McLean gives you these easy to follow steps to follow your own inspiration.

Go to our Facebook page AT Home on the North Shore where you can watch a video of Rachael making this gorgeous outdoor feature found in our cover story.

Step 1 – Container.

Look around your shed, barn, garage, find something unique that will add to your feature. You can always use a planter that held annuals in the warmer months. Take the old plants out and leave the soil in. It will act as anchor and then freeze, holding your materials in place. In this example, a bale of straw did the trick. It’s best to build your feature where it is going to be placed rather than having to move it after you’re finished.

Step 2 – Brush.

Grab your (sharp) pair of pruners, hand saw and a bucket or bag to collect things in. Look in your yard, your neighbour’s (maybe ask first), the ditch, all great sources of beauty!
Birch are great for that pop of white bark and give height to the centre. In this example a few small birch trees and spruce were cut out of the ditch on the side of the road. Think about texture. Different types of evergreen add interest up close. This feature has juniper, false cyprus and pine. Look for contrasting colours to add interest. Rose hips, hawthorn and mountain ssh all produce colourful fruit that are perfect for arrangements.

Step 3 – Lights and Sparkle.

Pick up some chicken wire and wire cutters. If you don’t have them already, they are widely available at a local hardware store. The piece used for this example is about 6’.
Mini lights, outdoor: these are optional.

Step 4 – Build.

With your container full of soil, push the birch down so that it stands independently. Cut them so 3-4’ is showing above the container. (Take into account the size of your container, make sure that they aren’t too big causing the feature to blow over easily.) Vary the heights; they will be the tallest component of the feature. Then cut chicken wire and loosely wrap or weave it around the birch sticks. Secure the ends around the birch sticks. The wire acts as another element of texture but also as an anchor for the plant material and mini lights if you choose to incorporate. If you are adding lights, put them on now.

Step 5 – Layer.

With the structure components in place begin to add the plant material. Where able, push the ends through the wire or into the soil to anchor it. Start with the evergreen you have the most of. Then layer in the remaining. Tuck the colourful pieces in randomly throughout. Make sure that its evenly distributed.


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This fall Rachael gets her last little one on the bus to start school. The first day of school will fill many a Mama with a load of emotion. It’s safe to say that a glass of wine will be had by more than a few that day. So, it’s fitting that Rachael chats with grape growers Dave and Anita Poirier who are producing their own wine along the West River. Cheers to a new season and fresh starts!