Inside Out Blog

08 Feb

AEI Interiorscaping Challenge Part 2

When we last left the Inside Out Interiorscaping team, they were onsite at the historic AEI building in the middle of a sweltering DC summer with no A/C or functioning elevators. These turned out to be only minor challenges at least compared to what they faced in getting the custom-built wooden planters ready to house plant material. As mentioned in the previous post, the planters were deep and narrow making for a less than ideal container for potted plants. Adding to an already difficult situation, the interior of the historic building was a construction zone with a bustle of various contractors going about their work.

The immediate priority was to elevate the bed of the planters, but the solution wasn’t immediately obvious. Simply dumping a bunch of packing peanuts into each planter wouldn’t fly. Not only would the base of the planters need to be raised, but the interior of the wooden planters would need to be waterproofed somehow. Remember, beneath the planters would be file cabinets eventually holding folders and papers!

Making things water tight

Making the interior of the wooden planters waterproof became the first priority. The first attempt involved lining the planters with large sheets of thick plastic. It was a good idea in theory, but one that proved to be too time-consuming since a means for securing the plastic so it would never come loose couldn’t be found. It was then back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, a versatile product advertised on TV infomercials came to the rescue. Yes, the one that can make an Everglades airboat with a screen door bottom watertight: Flex Seal. It worked like a charm, but presented some challenges of its own in terms of procurement. The only place to purchase Flex Seal – outside of calling the 800 number off the TV – is at big box retailers like Home Depot. Ordinarily that’s not a problem; however, Flex Seal isn’t marketed to the trades (contractors). It only comes in spray cans or one-gallon cans.

TV infomercial product to the rescue

Our project required large quantities best suited to 5-gallon buckets. On top of that, Home Depot requires that you produce a license in order to purchase “mass quantities” of aerosol products. Seems this is required by law in order to make sure you’re not an aspiring graffiti artist. But no worries, we had our solution to the container waterproofing challenge and a few minor inconveniences were not going to deter us.

Raising things up and more challenges

With the waterproofing challenge licked our Interiorscaping team then moved on to tackling the problem of raising the base of the planters. The solution to this challenge came in the form of sheets of hard foam insulation cut to size. This material proved to be easier to work with and produced a much cleaner result than using regular Styrofoam which tends to leave a mess of crumbs behind. It was decided that the remaining space between individual plant containers would be filled in with sponge collars to allow for an attractive top-dressing.  More on this detail in the next post in this series

Our team was getting there, but wasn’t in the clear just yet. A few additional challenges were thrown in their path, not the least of which was access to the building during business hours. The office unofficially opened for business before the project was completed, which meant that all contractors – including our Interiorscaping team – could not be onsite while AEI staff was working.

Don’t go anywhere, you’ll want to check out the next post on how our team rose to meet these next set of seemingly insurmountable challenges!

Interior Planter Preparation Steps:

aei wooden file cabinet topped with planter
Wooden file cabinet topped with planter
planter lined with plastic
Lining planter with plastic sheeting
planter build up with foam blocks
Raising bed with foam blocks

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