Friday, August 16, 2013

Guest Blogger Chris Long - How to Grow Your Own Container Garden

Although it's already August, the summer isn't over yet! There is plenty of time to spend outdoors soaking up the sun, sunbathing or cooking on the grill and just enjoying the fresh air. And as autumn arrives and the temperature becomes more moderate, it will be even more pleasant to spend time reading a book on the deck and having guests over to enjoy lemonade with them on the porch.

One way to make the environment around you particularly inviting, especially if you have limited yard space, is to add a container garden to your deck, covered porch, or patio. This is a technique that allows homeowners the chance to exercise their creativity, by growing plants in containers ranging from the traditional – by lining up a row of pots on a windowsill or deck railing – all the way to tin cans, tires, old shoes, buckets or even small bathtubs!

Container gardens add increased flexibility to the design of your outdoor area, because unlike with a conventional garden, the plants and flowers can easily be re-arranged to keep things interesting or to make space for new additions. You can also plant fruits and vegetables and offer guests their choice of ingredients for a dinner salad or lunchtime snack!

However, there are a few things you should know about to make sure that you choose the right design, plants and flowers for your space. Here are some tips on setting up a container garden that will suit your particular needs and environment:

1. Getting Started: 
The most basic step in setting up your new garden is considering what type of containers you want to use. This depends to some extent on how much time you have to spend and how comfortable you feel with your gardening abilities. If you are inexperienced and pressed for time, you can buy ready-made container plants at a gardening center, allowing you to focus more on the design and arrangement than the actual gardening.
However, if you do want to set up your garden from scratch, consider whether to use standard pots or more exotic containers. What will look best on your deck or patio? What type of lumber or decking material is it made of? An old-fashioned looking screened-in porch may be a good setting for country-style containers like old letterboxes or colorful flowerpots that might look out of place on a modern and architectural looking deck. More unconventional containers like tires and boots might work best on a porch. Think about the aesthetic you want to create and make sure to match the containers to it.

2. Sunlight Access 
Another element to consider is what the climate is like where you live, and how much sunlight will typically reach your garden. If you live in a hot place and you will be putting the containers outside on a deck, consider plants like:

On the other hand, if your plants and flowers will be on a covered or screened porch or won't be getting much sun, then consider certain types of:

Again, you can consult with your local gardening center for advice about which plants will be best for your particular atmospheric conditions.

3. Aesthetic Variety: 
The key to a good container garden is creating a sense of balance and harmony among the different plants and flowers you make use of. Think about what colors you want to use: for example, do you want to focus on reds, with complimentary shades like oranges and yellows, or do you want to use blues, violets, and greens? You can create striking effects with seemingly clashing colors, but you don't want to overdo it by trying to fit in too many different color and textural combinations. Similarly, plan for a few attention-grabbing plants, then select others to fill in the space around them.

4. Keeping Your Plants Healthy: 
It is essential that your containers have proper drainage capability – make sure that there is a hole or holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. You can also place trays beneath containers to collect excess water. If you don't have much time, choose plants that don't need as much watering. You could also use bigger pots. Container gardens work better with potting soil, as well as mulch and fertilizer, rather than topsoil. You can even make use of compost or sand to improve drainage. Again, if you are not an experienced gardener, it is a good idea to consult with your local gardening center for advice.
How would you take advantage of having a container garden? Do you have creative ideas for containers and accompanying plants?

Since 2000, Chris Long has been a Home Depot store associate in the Chicago suburbs. Chris also writes on lumber topics, including outdoor decking, for the Home Depot website, where he provides tips and advice to homeowners.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! I am sure that there are a number of readers who will benefit from the same.