If space is a premium in your yard – or if you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to fancy-up your deck or patio, think about planting containers as a way to add color and vitality exactly where you need it.

portable container garden

It’s not necessary to have acres of planting beds – or even to own a home – to enjoy America’s favorite hobby. Renters and homeowners alike can let their imaginations run wild with this easy-to-care for, portable and economical alternative to full garden planting.

Start with a collection of pots – your choice of plain clay, or more ornate, as long as they have drainage – some good potting soil and a basic color scheme. Then, follow these tips:

  • Add an inch or two of gravel to the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage
  • If you use a large, decorative pot without drainage holes, don’t plant directly in it – add the gravel – or other spacer to the inside bottom, and put a smaller pot with drainage holes inside the decorative pot. This will allow drainage, and keep your plants from retaining too much moisture.
  • In very large decorative containers, use this weight-saving trick: build up the inside bottom of the planter with upside down clay pots, and use them to support smaller potted plants – you’ll fill the space beautifully without having to fill the large container with soil.
  • Make sure all of the plants you choose for a single container will do well under similar conditions – don’t combine a shade plant with one requiring full sun, or a water-lover with a plant requiring drier conditions.
  • Don’t be afraid to vary colors and textures within a single container – that’s what the pros do. Visit your local garden store for inspiration, and then do it yourself at a fraction of the price!

Great summer growers for your container garden include Coleus, Dahlia, Fuchsia, Geranium, Herbs, Impatiens, Larkspur, Lobelia, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Petunias, Wave Petunias, Ornamental grasses, and Miniature Roses.

Containers tend to dry out faster than ground soil, so don’t be afraid to choose drought resistant plants, and keep them healthy and well-nourished with a good fertilizer.