Modern Container Garden Ideas
Garden planters have changed the way we garden. High-rise living with small balconies or a new housing estate where all the gardens are a lot smaller than they used to be have made people rethink what they have space for. New gardeners are time conscious and like a variety of plants and vegetable, often mixed in together in one planter. Not only is it important to have a few containers scattered about your garden, but the amount of vegetables and plants that you can grow in them can double the size of your growing space.
If you live in a studio, flat, apartment or terrace house, you may only have a small yard or balcony for your outside space. By adding a few garden containers, it will give you a little garden to enjoy or a place where you can grow some summer vegetables or salad for yourself. Garden centres or organic garden suppliers will have a large range of sizes and colours for you to choose from, so you will always be able to find something to fit your space. If you have the tools and enjoy doing a bit of woodwork, they are quite easy to make and don't cost a lot.
More modern materials have meant that garden planters are no longer just made from terra cotta. You can now see metal containers made from thin plate, brass, copper or zinc (see photo further down). Wood has always been popular, and so is painted ceramic. You can also try one or two made from wicker material, which looks really good.
Not only are garden planters made from traditional ceramic pots, there are plenty of standalone types made from wrought iron steel where you place your pots in them, which makes them very attractive for a corner or against a wall. Try lifting them a small distance off the ground so you are not bending and can reach them more easily.
Note: Try to find a planter which looks right for the space it’s going to sit in. There’s no point buying a too large or too small pot that doesn’t feel at home in its surrounding. If you only have a small deck area, try assembling three or four different-sized pots together to make a nice feature of a plain corner.
Advantages of Using Garden Containers
- You can move them around.
- You can grow vegetables, fruit bushes, small trees and plants in them.
- You can add different composts to them to grow a variety of alkaline- or acid-loving plants.
- They brighten up an area where plants struggle to grow.
- They look great outside your door or under a balcony.
- Once your plant or vegetables are finished, they're easy to replant for little cost.
- They're great if you don't have a proper garden to grow things.
- Both garden containers and window boxes add value to your home and make it more inviting.
A close neighbour of mine has a average-sized garden and has filled it with containers. The pots are all different in size, shape and materials. There is always something to look at with plants growing and coming into season one after the other. Two, three or four garden containers placed here and there make your garden attractive and cared for.
Place a couple of large plant pots or half wooden barrels on your decking for good effect. Place them where they get some sun (not full sun if possible, or they will dry out too quickly). A patio is a great place to grow some vegetables, and you can really let your imagination flow with what you plant or grow.
Mixing up three to four patio tubs and pots, some with flowers and others with vegetables, is my preferred method. Make them accessible for children to pick the fruits of your labour. They will want to pick their own if possible. Better still, create a box just for the children, perhaps some radishes or carrots that they can eat straight from the container. A little dirt will not harm them. I've eaten hundreds that way.
How to Plant up Your Containers
To start your new container off in the right direction, make sure there are adequate drainage holes in the bottom. Add some gravel or stones or broken crock pots in the bottom of the container, then fill it up with organic soil or a mixture of organic soil and some home-grown compost from your compost heap.
There are various ways to grow vegetables. Seed is cheap and plentiful. Slug-type plants that are approximately 2–3 inches are very popular, and you just plant and grow them. Alternatively, you can go to the local garden centre and buy plants or vegetables that are already well-established. This method is more expensive, but for a specimen plant for your patio or doorway this makes good sense.
You will need to feed the plants or vegetables occasionally, particularly once they get growing and are producing fruit or vegetables. A general liquid fertiliser added to the watering can is sufficient for a few months of excellent home-grown fruit or vegetables. Keep your containers neat and tidy, and watch out for anything suspect like greenfly. Trim back any dead or overgrown sections, and your patio will look great all summer.
How to Keep Your Garden Containers Moist
Keeping your garden containers well watered is often overlooked. You really need to water your containers once or sometimes twice a day. This will depend on:
- What seeds or plants you are growing.
- How big or established the plant or bush is.
- How hot the weather is.
- If the container has been out in the rain.
- The position of your container. Sheltered spots out of the sun will require less frequent watering.
Most pots and containers come with drainage holes already in the bottom. If they don't, make sure you put at least two holes for water to drain out before planting them up. One method I use on all my containers is to add a plastic bag to the inside of the container. You need to put some holes in the bag first to allow water to escape. This method helps retain moisture in the soil and stops your pot from drying out.
Another method of keeping your compost moist is adding small fertiliser spikes at the time of planting, which will enrich your compost. This has the added bonus of also retaining more water. You can buy them from your local garden centre. They come in small, round capsules that you plant. No more than three to four per pot.
You can of course set up an irrigation system to each of your containers, and put this on to a timer so they are watered twice a day. This method is expensive at first, but once it's set up it saves a lot of time and effort. If all else fails, you will have to use a watering can or garden hose to keep them watered. Containers really do add to your garden, so look after yours and they will bring you years of happiness.