6 container garden ideas

In an unfortunate case of irony, interest in gardening around the world has grown massively over the past few years while the size of gardens has continued to decrease. The solution to this problem? Container gardens.

If you have a large expanse or a tiny balcony, you can grow a full and productive garden in containers. If you want to get started, follow these ideas and tips to make the most of your container garden.

Container garden ideas

1. Choose pot materials carefully

One of the great benefits of container gardening is the many different materials and colors of containers you can choose from. Rather than a regular outdoor garden where you have the ground, pots add another decorative element that can influence your container garden design.

Each material comes with pros and cons. Plastic is cheap and widely available but loses its appeal after a few years and isn’t good for the environment. Terra cotta looks stunning and wicks moisture away from the soil to benefit the plants, but is also pricey and delicate.

Choose materials that are best suited to your chosen plants, your budget, and what you want from your garden.

Purple flower container garden

2. Consider color choices

Color is one of the most important factors in garden design. When planting a container garden, you have more to play with, but the general rules of color and design still apply.

For example, if you want a harmonious and uniform look, choose pots of the same color so the plants stand out. If you’re only growing leafy plants with little color, use pots to add a pop of brightness missing from the plants.

If you want to make one color stand out, use complementary colors (those opposite each other on the color wheel). Each color also has its own impact, such as cool pastel purple and pink for a calming effect or bright oranges and yellows for warmth and brightness.

Lots of different containers

3. Vary the sizes of your containers

Something you may not have considered that makes a huge impact on the overall look of your container garden is pot sizes. You can have a wide variety of plants – a different one in every pot – but if all the containers are the same size, the garden will look incredibly one-note.

That doesn’t mean you should choose any size container without regard for what the plants need. Planting a small plant in a larger container will make it look diminished and sad, even if it is completely healthy.

Choose a wide variety of plants, from small trees and shrubs to small succulents, and plant in a variety of different containers. This will make your container garden look more like a complete garden and less like a random collection of plants.

Flower basket on fence

4. Play with plant combinations

Container gardens are not just a means to save space or grow plants. On closer inspection, they could be classified an art with the different combinations of plants displayed in one pot. Much like flower arranging, combining the right plants in the right design makes a big impact.

There is a handy phrase used by gardeners to get it right – thriller, filler, spiller. Thriller plants are those feature plants that take center stage in a pot. Filler plants are slightly smaller, used to fill in any gaps in space or height. Spiller plants are cascading plants that can hang over the sides of a container to complete the look.

Try playing around with different combinations of plants in your container garden. The more you plant, the better you will become. And, always make sure any plants you combine have similar needs in soil and watering so one doesn’t thrive at the expense of another.

Teapot violet garden

5. Group pots in threes

For some strange reason, humans find things more appealing in threes. Whether in gardening, interior design, or even this sentence (see what I did there?), things in threes just make sense. The same rule applies to your container garden.

If you are struggling with placement and design, try grouping your containers in threes. This could be three large feature containers near an entrance or three different-sized pots placed next to each other to draw the eye upwards.

No matter the configuration, you’ll find your container garden visually makes a lot more sense when you apply the rule of threes.

Bulb container gardens

6. Use levels in your outdoor space

While we’re talking about leading the eye, it’s also important to utilize levels in a container garden. If you’re planting up one or two pots, this tip may not apply, but when you have an entire space filled with containers, it will certainly make a difference.

On a balcony or patio, containers are typically left to rest on the floor. But what happens when you have 30 pots that all need floor space? Use your levels. Install shelving, secure containers to walls and make use of the overhead space with hanging baskets.

This will make you feel completely surrounded by nature from all sides, where the eye can enjoy them, rather than concentrated on the floor.

Madison Moulton
Madison Moulton

Madison Moulton is an esteemed gardening writer and editor with a profound affection for plants that took root in her childhood. As a life-long plant enthusiast, Madison’s early captivation with indoor gardening blossomed into a full-fledged profession. Her dedication and expertise in the field have seen her words grace the pages of several national gardening magazines, as well as some of the most popular online platforms.

With bylines in notable gardening publications such as Epic Gardening, Rural Sprout, Homes & Gardens, and All About Gardening, Madison’s voice stands out as a beacon for sustainable and eco-friendly gardening practices. Moreover, her vast experience with tropical plants has not only made her a valuable contributor to our team but has also earned her features in esteemed platforms like Real Homes and Architectural Digest.

While Madison’s extensive writing portfolio speaks volumes about her gardening expertise, her mission remains consistent: to inspire novice and seasoned gardeners alike to approach gardening with both the flora and the earth’s well-being at heart. Outside the digital realm, Madison is hands-on, immersing herself in the rich soils of her home country, South Africa, where she passionately plants and tends to her own garden.

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