Call Now! + (973) 875-7200

Contain Yourself! Essential Container Gardening Tips

Container Garden Planting - Farmside Landscape & Design

Contain Yourself! Essential Container Gardening Tips

Maybe you’re short on yard space, or your soil is mostly clay and rock, or your site doesn’t get much sun, or you want to add some natural color to your pool area or patio – there are as many reasons to consider container gardens as there are container gardens! Consider the pluses to container gardens:


  • You can create as many or as few as you like. Go for a lush look with numerous planters embellishing your yard throughout, or a single large display as the focal point of your patio or simply add some color to window boxes, steps and entryways with your seasonal favorites.
  • Hungry for fresh herbs or sun-ripened tomatoes picked at their peak? Consider a kitchen garden (bonus: you can make your containers portable, so you can move them where they’ll do best – sun, shade, protected from winds, etc.) Herbs, lettuces and greens, and many fruits and vegetables can be grown in pots that you can place in their ideal environmental conditions and away from hungry deer, rabbits and birds.
  • When considering elements for your container gardens such as sun, shade, water requirements and color, consider themes for your containers as well, like texture, fragrance or all-white “moonlight” container gardens.
  • A container garden can be created to suit your lifestyle. Hate to water? Consider a succulent garden. Crave constant color? It’s easy to switch out plants that have passed their prime and replace them with fresh colorful options. Physical limitations? Containers afford you the joy of gardening without the physical demands required of more extensive landscaping. Budget-conscious? You can start a container garden from seeds and use existing items you have around the house (coffee cans, old pottery pieces, boxes, etc.


While container gardens are generally pretty easy to create and maintain, there are things to do to keep them healthy and looking their best. Some tips include:


  • Gravel or pebbles placed at the bottom of a container with no drainage holes does not provide proper drainage for plants. Roots can literally drown without proper drainage, killing your plants. Either purchase pots with drainage openings or drill holes in containers that have none.
  • Evaluate the environmental conditions of where you’d like to have your containers. Consider how much sun/shade there is, and at what points during the day these conditions occur (early morning sun/shade, late afternoon, etc.)
  • Adding containers to your poolside garden? Make sure they’re placed far enough away from getting splashed with pool water, and so they don’t shed dead leaves or petals into your pool.
  • Be sure to avoid windy locations since containers can dry out quickly. Placing containers where there is some shelter from wind such as a porch or by shrubs that provide a natural windbreak is a good idea.
  • Use a good potting soil mix with peat moss and pearlite. The more potting soil in the container, the better proper moisture retention you’ll have for your plants. Avoid filling a larger pot with Styrofoam peanuts or other “fillers” in lieu of potting soil. Containers will dry out more quickly and root growth can be affected.
  • You can mix a slow-release fertilizer into your potting soil before you set up your plants, or fertilize every two weeks with a liquid fish emulsion/seaweed blend.
  • Along with the type of plants to consider, think about which types of containers would work best for you. Brilliant-hued ceramic pots housing plants of another single or multiple bright colors can be show-stoppers for your entryway. But ceramic pots are heavy, and may not be the best planter choice for lettuces you’d like to grow but need to move to a cooler location when the sun beats down during the afternoon. For that, a lightweight plastic container would make more sense.
  • If you want your containers to grow lush and beautiful throughout the season, don’t start off by overcrowding plants into their pots. Give them room to grow and develop healthy roots to withstand environmental stresses throughout the season.
  • Finally, have a list of plant options/ideas before you head out to the garden center. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when confronted with a sea of beautiful flowers and plants before you. You can end up choosing plants that either can’t co-exist in a container because of different environmental requirements or are simply unsuitable for the location you have. A great place to get ideas for container plants is Not only is this a great place for inspiration, they actually give you the “plant recipe” for creating the look you love!


And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at Farmside Landscape & Design to help you design and create a landscape made more beautiful by the addition of container gardens.