Container Gardening Basics – Creating Something Unique in Your Smaller Space
If you are limited on space but love the idea of having a backyard oasis of your own, container gardening just might provide the perfect solution. Planting your favorite blooms, trees, bushes, vines and produce in a pots and planters makes it easier to creatively place them on smaller patios and porches, move them indoors when weather is not favorable and even transport them if you decide to move.
Choosing Your Pots
To start designing your container garden, begin with the plants. Decide what you want to plant in order to determine what size containers you will need. A golden celebration rose bush that grows 8 feet tall and wide probably isn’t going to thrive in a tiny terracotta pot, but blooms of forget-me-nots likely will. You can also incorporate contrasting colors, shades and textures in your container garden by mixing and matching your pots and plants.
When choosing the containers for your garden, it is not necessary to stick to traditional offerings. While terracotta pots, wooden boxes, hanging baskets and less expensive plastic containers are effective choices, a more eclectic mix of unwanted or outdated home goods and items salvaged from the recycle bin make for a cooler, funkier and unique garden. Canning jars stenciled with vibrant paints, old watering cans with a bit of noticeable rust, partially cut milk jugs, ice cream containers or lunchboxes are excellent options. While your choices really are limited only by your own imagination, make sure containers offer proper drainage for your plants by drilling holes in the bottom. Also remain cognizant of any potentially damaging elements in your containers such as chemical residue, mold or mildew, and make necessary modifications before you plant.
If you find a great container but prefer not to make it a permanent addition to your garden, plant your blooms in a small plastic pot first, and then, place it inside the container you want to display. This not only allows you to remove the plant easily when it’s time for a change, but it can also help to protect your plants from any unsafe residue that may be left behind inside your visable container.
Mixing Plants for Texture and Appeal
In addition to upcycling and choosing funky pots, another great way to add texture to your garden is by placing several plants in a single, larger pot. Ornamental grasses, tall sunflowers and Sedum reflexum make a beautiful, visually stunning combination. While there is no set rule for what to choose when planting several different varieties in a single pot, it is a good idea to consider the sunlight and watering needs of each plant to make sure they are compatible in a more contained area.
Use the Right Soil
Once you have decided on your plants and containers, it is time to select your soil. Even if you are an accomplished gardener in open land, remember that traditional garden soil used in that environment will not likely give you the final effect you want in a container garden. Your soil must be modified to allow for proper hydration and aeration inside a smaller pot and may be composed of peat, bark, coconut hulls or vermiculite. You can either purchase pre-mixed potting soil, sometimes called soil-less soil, in a local gardening center, or you might decide to mix your own by adding one part peat moss and one part coarse builders sand to traditional soil. If you are making your own, ensure that the soil you use is free from weeds and insects. If these things are accidentally placed in your pots, they will be trapped inside the small space and can take over and diminish the health of your plants.
When filling your pots with soil, leave a little space at the top. About a one or two inch gap between the top of your soil and the top of your pot allows room for watering and prevents overflow. Proper watering is then simple. Just add water until you see it starting to escape from the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot.
If you are using large pots in your container garden, it can get expensive to purchase enough soil. An easy and cost effective solution is to add a layer of packing peanuts at the bottom of your pot, topped with a layer of landscape fabric and then your soil. Your plant’s roots will sit in the soil, and the peanuts will allow extra room for drainage and aeration in addition to costing you less than using only soil to fill the pot.
You really can plant anything you want in a pot, so never feel limited by a lack of open space or a home that doesn’t include a backyard. Simply choose your plants, grab some containers, add the right soil, water, maintain and go! Before you know it, your porch or patio will be filled with beautiful blooms, creating an amazing space for you to enjoy.