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July 15, 2009

Container Gardening

Filed under: Gardening — DO or DIY @ 11:42 am

Container Gardening

Container Gardening is liberating and constricting at the same time – it’s liberating because you’re not restricted by the soil condition of your garden; constricting because it needs more care and attention.Containers are ideal to use on balconies, in small gardens, on patios and around the edges of flowerbeds.  But don’t just go wild and buy containers on impulse in your garden center – container gardening needs planning..

First you have to think about space – where you want to put your pots, how many pots you need, how big they should be. Your design should have an overall theme – the containers should relate to the rest of your garden and to each other, i.e. don’t just mix and match everything. Something has to bind them together – the color, the shape or the material – preferably two of these.  Then you have to think about the plants – not all pants are suitable for containers and you need to think about the regularity with which you’ll have to feed and water them.

The Right Containers

There’s a huge selection of containers these days – made of many different materials in many shapes and styles. Each material has its pros and cons.


Terracotta containers are classic, widely available, cheap and stylish. You can get tall and broad, big and small, simple and decorative ones – the choice is endless. Most importantly, terracotta pots suit all plants and design styles. However, terracotta is a porous material which encourages water loss – line it inside with a piece of plastic sheet to overcome this problem. Also, you must make sure that the container you want is made of good quality clay – the cheap, mass-produced ones are not frost-resistant, so they might crack during the winter. Glazed pots are increasingly popular – although they retain water better, they tend not to take frost.


Stainless Steel, Aluminium and galvanised metal are very trendy materials to use for containers. Galvanised metal is the cheapest and the most widely available – perfect choice for a minimalist theme or to add drama to your garden. Metal gets too hot in the sun for some plants, damaging their roots – and too cold during winters, freezing the soil. So you should insulate metal pots before planting in them and put them in shady part of your garden.


Try to avoid plastic containers imitating terracotta – they are really naff. If you have them, paint over them or cover them up with bamboo or some funky plastic sheets! They now make really cool modern containers, made of various plastics, fibreglass, resin and rubber – try these instead.  Or utilize your plastic trash can – those can look funky too. The disadvantage of plastic containers is that they’re very light, and therefore can be blown over. Also, plastic cracks easily.

Stone & Concrete

These are the new trendy materials to use – they are very dramatic, striking and can make a style statement. Although they are very durable, they are very expensive. They are also very heavy to move around, so it’s best to use them as permanent features.


Half-barrels and timber tubs have always been popular. Wood is a good insulator, it retains moisture so you don’t need to water your plants so much. Garden centers  have started to sell containers made of decking-looking wood. If you have decking, these will complement it well! Alternatively, if you’re building your own decking why don’t you make a few containers out of the left-over materials?!

You don’t need to buy containers – you can make your own by recycling household objects, such as old sinks, cooking bowls and pans. Read more ideas about what to utilize in the Container Gardening Tips section.

The next article will be about container planting. Herbs are ideal for containers –  read about herb gardening.

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