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A Newbie’s Quick Guide to Container Gardening | Backes Landscaping

A Newbie’s Quick Guide to Container Gardening | Fort Collins | Loveland | Colorado


Containers filled with vibrant, blooming plants can be versatile complements to your house and garden. They’re easy to create, portable, and can add just the right touch of color, texture or contrast exactly where needed. But if you’re new to container gardening, their design and installation can be intimidating. The following tips will help you become a container gardening expert in no time.

1. Use Design Principles

Having an understanding of design principles like unity, simplicity, balance, scale, line and transition can help you create your container garden masterpiece. 

You can unify your design by repeating the same type elements. Plants, pots and groupings of the same are all good candidates for repetition. 

Keep things simple. Use two or three complimentary or contrasting colors, similar texture combinations, or the same type pot for all your plantings.

Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance lends itself to formality. Two matching ceramic containers with the same type plants placed one on either side of your front door is a good example of symmetrical balance. Asymmetrical balance is more abstract and informal. It may use different shapes and forms on opposite sides, but the overall balance of each side equals out. Or shapes, colors and plant types may be similar, but sizes and composition of the elements may differ.

watering plants

2. How Will You Use Your Container Garden?

How you want to use your container garden will play a large part in the type and number of plants and pots you choose for your creation.

Do you want a distinctive entry accent? How about outdoor rooms? Do you need to screen or frame views? Create a focal point? Grow herbs or other edibles? A beautiful container garden arrangement can welcome visitors to your home, divide space, make a living screen, or allow you to grow herbs and vegetables right outside your kitchen door.

3. Location

The high visibility of an entryway demands you use top quality pots, like ceramic terracotta, in colors that complement your home’s exterior siding or trim. 

You can also get quality pots in materials like fiberglass and foam that look almost as good as terracotta, but are lighter and may be less expensive.

Take the total weight of your creation into account, too. If you plan to place containers on balconies or decks, or think you’ll be moving them from place to place, forget about stone and concrete containers and containers with trees. You’ll want to use lighter and smaller foam and plastic composition pots, with light potting mixes and drainage materials, and smaller plant arrangements that won’t be blown over by the wind. 

If you do need to move large, unwieldy pots, place them on pot caddies, wheeled bases that make transporting big containers a breeze.

4. Think Maintenance

How do you plan to take c water and fertilizer to your containers? A single large potted perennial used as an accent on a distant garden path may be harder to maintain than a cluster of seven containers located on your patio. Using dedicated drip irrigation systems and slow release fertilizers will save you time and effort. 

Remember too that permanent plantings will eventually need to be moved to larger pots. Seasonal plantings may need to be overwintered or protected during the colder months. These tasks add to your work load, so plan accordingly.

interior garden

5. Plants

When choosing plants, think about the following:

  • Is this plant suitable to my zone?
  • Is it easy to grow?
  • Does it thrive in sun, shade or a combination?
  • Is it long-blooming and self-cleaning?
  • What are its water, food and soil needs?
  • What’s its mature size, in both height and spread?
  • Does it work well in the composition?

6. Composition

Now comes the fun part – putting it all together! 

You can have as few or as many plant and pot combinations in your container garden arrangement as you want. Try one distinctive plant in a plain pot, or a combination of three or more in multiple containers. A good rule of thumb for combo plantings is to use a thriller (a tall plant placed in the center), a filler (several medium sized plants to fill in the middle), and a spiller (plants that trail over the edge of the pot). 

For immediate impact, consider purchasing larger plants, and planting them close together in the pot. You may be able to save money by buying larger plants or plants in a hanging basket and dividing them into several new plants.

With a little planning and fore thought, you can have a container garden that meets all your needs and perfectly complements your home.

Backes Landscaping is a full-service landscaper in Fort Collins offering landscape design services. Please give us a call for your landscaping needs at (970) 222-1730. Our professional landscapers install water features, retaining walls, xeriscaping, hardscaping, firepits, sprinklers, and offer Commercial Landscaping Services.

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