Container Gardening

If you have a small garden, courtyard, or no garden at all, container growing might be the perfect way to fill your outside space with some of your favourite plants. Nathan James Dodd considers timber and stone containers and how best to use them.

Created by Nathan James Dodd on Monday, 11th of May, 2015.
Updated on Monday, 30th of January, 2017.


Container Gardening

Whether it's flowers you prefer, or fruit and vegetables, with container growing it's possible to have a magnificent array of colour throughout the year or a tasty harvest in the summer and autumn.

Timber and stone containers come in many shapes and forms - contemporary or traditional, plain or decorated. 

Timber Planters

Cheap wooden containers may rot so, if it's a softwood, check that the timber has been pressure or dip treated. Cedar is an exception but will, together with hardwoods such as teak, last for many years.  

Sawn timber or half log wooden planters are attractive, robust and available in various options from simple containers to practical ornamental designs. Properly treated, all timber products should last for many years with very little maintenance.

There’s elegant square planters, pyramid shaped planters, barrel shaped ones, multi-levelled with tumbling plants and hexagonal herb wheels featuring an eye-catching geometric design. Other timber planters fit around trees so you can relax enveloped in fragrance.

Stone Containers

From an amusing old boot planter, charming wishing wells to smooth to classic designs representing Grecian urns, made from cast stone or rainbow coloured sandstone, the choice is huge. 

Haddonstone, Chilstone and Borderstone are major manufacturers and their vast range includes contemporary and traditional designs featuring troughs, bowls, cubes, urns and vases to complement stylish interiors, conservatories and garden rooms or to be placed on terraces, balconies or patios. 

There are just too many to mention individually but they can come in an array of finishes and are manufactured with great attention to detail. However, if you think stone is too expensive, you could experiment with re-cycled hard wearing household items such as old sinks and shower basins.

Preparation

Don't be mean, make sure the container is large enough for the number of plants and deep enough for them to develop good root systems in a decent amount of soil that doesn't rapidly dry out.

Whatever timber or stone, make sure there are drainage holes in the base. If there aren't, drill some and then raise the container off the ground to allow excess water to be released. When filling with compost, cover the holes with broken pot so they don't block.

Good drainage combined with moisture retention is essential, so soil based composts are recommended, don't use peat based compost as it dries out too readily. Either buy specially formulated container compost or you can mix your own from good top soil, loam, leaf mould and grit. Add some lime and general fertilizer and remember to leave some space at the top of the pot for watering and mulching.

Because nutrients can be easily lost, they must be replaced with a slow release fertiliser or by feeding every week in the growing season. Water daily and use water retaining granules, in addition cover the top with gravel or decorative stones to avoid excessive evaporation.

Make sure that the compost fits the plant's requirements as far as pH is concerned, use ericaceous compost for acid lovers such as Japanese Maples, Heathers and Camellias. If you are mixing your own, leave out the lime and use an acid top soil.

Planting

There's very little if anything you can't grow in a container. Winter pansies, spring bulbs, summer flowers, shrubs with autumn interest, herbs, alpines, conifers, even fruit trees. 

Bulbs are easy to grow in planters and choose any number of small shrubs or perennials to provide height in the centre. Alternatively a dwarf conifer will be perfect.

Use foliage plants in the winter and early spring and a flowering perennial such as a Christmas Rose or Cyclamen. Hepaticas and Pansies will certainly brighten overcast days. For the container edge, trailing geraniums, lobelias and nasturtiums look particularly attractive.

If you’re a keen cook, herbs can’t be fresher than gathered from a container next to the kitchen door. Also, remember that vegetables and even fruit can also be grown in a container. Dwarf fruit trees including apples will do well together with tomatoes, currents and strawberries.

Whether it is to soften a hard landscape or to fully utilise a limited space, there's no doubt that containers can enliven and transform what may be an empty or lifeless environment into a productive area full of colour and fruitfulness.

For ideas as to what planter will suit you best, visit the planters, pots and containers section on GardenSite.

Related Articles

Grange Launch Their New Products For 2018

Grange Launch Their New Products For 2018

David Coton was recently invited to the exclusive launch of Grange's new products for 2018, the result of significant investment that the garden structures and fencing firm have received from their Polish parent company.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 30th of October, 2017.

What To Do In The Garden In October

What To Do In The Garden In October

In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 2nd of October, 2017.

Forest Launches New Storage Range

Forest Launches New Storage Range

Forest have been making high quality timber garden products for over half a century and at GLEE David Coton had the chance to see their brand new storage range that has recently been launched.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 14th of September, 2017.

Overview of New Lotus Wheelie Bin Stores, Garages, Sheds and More.

Overview of New Lotus Wheelie Bin Stores, Garages, Sheds and More.

This week Robert Hall has been to the Glee Garden Trade show at the NEC in Birmingham and has reviewed the new Lotus Wheelie Bin Store; Metal Garages, Bicycle Store; Sheds and Workshops and more...

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Thursday, 14th of September, 2017.

comments powered by Disqus

RSS

View RSS Feed

Author

Nathan James Dodd Nathan James Dodd

Garden Designer

View Profile

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

Grange Launch Their New Products For 2018

Grange Launch Their New Products For 2018

David Coton was recently invited to the exclusive launch of Grange's new products for 2018, the result of significant investment that the garden structures and fencing firm have received from their Polish parent company.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 30th of October, 2017.

What To Do In The Garden In November

What To Do In The Garden In November

David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of October, 2017.

What To Do In The Garden In October

What To Do In The Garden In October

In October, David Coton is getting the garden prepared for the onset of colder weather but, at the same time, the arrival of spring bulbs in the garden centre is a reminder that you should also now be planning ahead for next year.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 2nd of October, 2017.

VegTrug - The Easy Way To Grow Your Own Vegetables

VegTrug - The Easy Way To Grow Your Own Vegetables

At GLEE this year David Coton visited the VegTrug stand to find out how their specially designed space saving planters can encourage us to grow more of our own food without the use of pesticides.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 14th of September, 2017.