Fall in love with container gardening: Five great reasons

Container gardening, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Here are five great reasons to give container gardening a try:

Gardening with children

1. Container gardening provides a baby step for the beginning gardener.

The idea of gardening appeals to many people but sometimes the reality behind creating an inviting and attractive garden space can be daunting to those that have little gardening or landscaping experience. Fortunately, container gardening allows those new to gardening to take baby steps in growing one or two of their favorite things. By starting with a planter that can be filled with good potting soil, they’ve already simplified the planting process and provided a welcoming environment for their new plant.

With a planter being raised off the ground, issues such as weeds and certain pests are minimized. And starting with a few easy-to-grow plants helps the new gardener learn about paying attention to sunlight needs, indoor or outdoor temperature requirements, and soil moisture control. With a self-watering planter, like Crescent Garden’s TruDrop Crescent Garden’s TruDrop the guesswork of when to water is taken out of the picture. As the gardeners gain success and knowledge with one or two planters, they so often seize the opportunity to grow a little more.

Municipal plantings in containers

2. Container gardening allows gardeners/landscapers/parks/municipalities to plant anywhere.

Since not everyone has the luxury of rich soil and open areas to landscape, utilizing planters has long been a popular option from the balcony bound to those who don’t want to deal with their poor soil to towns and parks with miles of concrete.

Container gardening can be used to create an entire landscape. Most often, though, the use of containers is more supplementary. Container plantings can be used to define an area, creating an intimate garden room in the landscape, or to outline the sitting area of an outdoor café.

Container gardening can also be used as a privacy shield. If you like to entertain on your balcony or patio but don’t want everyone walking past to have a clear view of your great party, use planters hanging from your balcony railing with tall Angelonia or Coleus and cascades of petunia or Mandevilla to obscure the line of sight. Planters filled with evergreens, a Japanese maple, or those lemon trees that you bring indoors every winter also serve as lovely screening on a porch or patio, without being too obvious that you really don’t want everyone seeing you drink your morning coffee.  Even window boxes planted with tall annuals can screen the view inside when you want to open the windows to enjoy the evening air.

Fill up big empty wall space along city streets with rectangular planters planted with columnar evergreens or an assortment of coordinating narrow planters pillowing with ‘Kimberly Queen’ ferns or upright Cordyline underplanted with annual flowers.  Hang window boxes filled with color or foliage plants along an empty fence that you see out your living room window. Use planters in townhomes with tiny little patio courtyards to hide air-conditioning units or electrical boxes or their neighbor’s latest craft project.

Rail plaanters

3. Container gardening brings architectural interest to the landscape.

Bring height and structure into the design of a winter landscape by adding an urn planter urn planteror big bowl containebowl container in a bed of pansies and kale. Or let’s say you really want a large standard Bougainvillea as a part of your landscape design but know that this involves purchasing a new one every year. Place a container where you want the tree to be located, find an insert (a sturdy, inexpensive plastic pot like Crescent Garden’s Emma planter Crescent Garden’s Emma planter) that will fit in the container, and plant your Bougainvillea in that insert.  Keep that insert in the container during the frost-free days and bring it indoors during the winter. Place in the empty planter a new insert filled with pansies or maybe a live dwarf Alberta spruce that you could decorate for the holidays, or fill it with decorative cut branches of winterberry, red-twig dogwood, magnolia, hollies, or junipers.

You can save a little on landscaping costs by using container plantings to elevate a young specimen tree that might get missed in the landscape. Once it has reached a more visible height, you can then plant it in the ground.  Window boxes and planters also help to bring the eye up and draw attention to decorative shutters or ironwork, to guide the eye down a pathway, or to create structural diversity in a parterre garden or in a vista of monoculture plantings. Use containers to introduce plants into your landscape that would not naturally co-exist with the surrounding plants such as creating a water garden in the middle of drought-loving sedums and evergreens.

Self watering container

4. Self-watering container gardens simplify maintenance (and lower water usage and labor).

With the use of self-watering planters, people who live in drought-prone areas can significantly reduce their water usage. Self-watering planters can eliminate fertilizer runoff and significantly reduce the labor needed for companies that handle commercial planter maintenance. And a water level indicator on the self-watering planter can take the guesswork out of the watering routine for new gardeners and those that travel.

Elderly man gardening

5. Container gardeners make gardening accessible to those with health and accessibility issues.

For those with back or mobility issues, a container garden can give them the opportunity to grow the plants they enjoy without the worry of digging and the deep bending of knees and backs. With lightweight planters and attractive caddies, they can also enjoy the flexibility of moving planters around without needing the assistance of others.

A few things to remember as you begin your love affair with container gardening:

  1. Always use good quality container mix potting soil.
  2. Make sure that water can be easily accessed or that you use a self-watering planter with an overflow option.
  3. For year-round planters, use good-quality containers that won’t crack, fade, or rust. In areas that freeze use double-walled planters that will better protect plant roots.
  4. Raise planters up off the ground to keep the water coming through the drainage hole and from freezing the container to the ground.
  5. Fertilize the plants in your planter. Learn what the fertilizing requirements are for the plants in your container.
  6. When creating borders with containers, use large planters no less than 18 inches high, so that they don’t become a tripping hazard to the easily distracted.
  7. Herbs, vegetables, and fruits like blueberries and strawberries grow great in containers.

Many times, planters are an afterthought and are used to spruce up lackluster gardens for a special event. Container gardens, however, should be a component in landscape design, with planter design determined in the planning process. Container plantings can help make a temporary location feel more personalized and provide the opportunity to begin collecting unique or memorable plants.

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