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

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different types of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Monday, 30th of January, 2017.

Grange Announce New Timber Products For 2017

Grange Announce New Timber Products For 2017

Grange are introducing several new fence panels and gates in 2017 and Andy Taylor has been looking at these fresh additions to their already impressive collection of timber products.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Friday, 13th of January, 2017.

How To Assemble A Forest Log And Tool Store

 How To Assemble A Forest Log And Tool Store

The Forest Log and Tool Store is a handsome garden structure and, now that winter is approaching, a very useful acquisition. Martyn Loach purchased one recently and here he explains how it is assembled.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 7th of November, 2016.

David Coton Visits Forest Timber Garden Products

David Coton Visits Forest Timber Garden Products

Forest are one of GardenSite's major suppliers of timber sheds and garden structures, fencing and associated landscaping products. One of our partners, David Coton, last week enjoyed a visit to their headquarters and transport hub at Hartlebury near Kidderminster.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Sunday, 30th of October, 2016.

comments powered by Disqus

RSS

View RSS Feed

Author

Nathan James Dodd Nathan James Dodd

Garden Designer

View Profile

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

May Gardening Jobs

May Gardening Jobs

Here in Birmingham, the weather has been as changeable as ever, very warm just before Easter followed by a cold spell only last week. During May the threat of further frost will largely pass and, with spring well under way, Robert Hall is in no doubt that this is going to be a busy month in the garden.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Friday, 28th of April, 2017.

How to Choose The Right BBQ For Your Needs

How to Choose The Right BBQ For Your Needs

The weather forecast is for a sizzling summer and David Coton is already looking forward to preparing delicious barbecued food for his family and friends. Barbecues have become incredibly popular over recent years and here is David's guide on what to look out for when choosing one of these summer essentials.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 28th of April, 2017.

What Size And Type Of Shed Should I Choose

What Size And Type Of Shed Should I Choose

Sheds of any kind are ubiquitous in the British garden and, due to their popularity, there are plenty to choose from. David Coton explores the basic considerations that need to be taken into account before purchasing one.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 28th of April, 2017.

Robert Hall Elected on the GIMA Judging Panel

Robert Hall Elected on the GIMA Judging Panel

Robert Hall, senior partner at GardenSite.co.uk has been elected to sit on the Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) Judging Panel for 2017. The news was announced on 31st March 2017 on the GIMA website.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 31st of March, 2017.