How To Design a Container Garden

Follow this simple design concept, and boost the impact of your container gardens with plants of various sizes, textures and color combinations.

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Choose a Spiller

Spillers are the final element to consider when designing your pots. They cascade to the ground, softening the edges of the pot and anchoring it in place. They provide a colorful skirt around the combination of thrillers and fillers. Sweet potato vine, million bells (Calibrachoa) and verbena are good examples of trailing plants.

Pink and White Floral BouquetEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-Design by Rate My Space user kmphelps

Select a Container

Before selecting a container, think about where you want to put it in the landscape. Will it soften the corner of a patio? Do you want to place it within a grouping of containers? These are important options to consider when choosing a pot and will help to determine if you need small eight-inch pots or big four-foot containers. You should also consider color combinations, formal vs. informal, style, access to a water source, general care and maintenance, and plans for winter care.

Plant Your Container

Good soil is vital in containers. Steve recommends using a mixture of one part high-quality potting soil, one part compost and one part shredded pine bark.

Once the soil is in place, start planting the container. You can assemble the container in any way you see fit, but it's helpful to plant the biggest plant, the thriller, first so you don't have to make room for it later. Then add the fillers around the base of the thriller, followed by the spillers trailing over the edge of the pots.

As you arrange the plants in the pot, symmetry isn't essential, but picking up color echoes to tie the plants together is always nice. The thrillers, fillers and spillers concept works the same for small and large pots as well as pots clustered together in groupings.

Water the pots as needed and feed with a liquid or slow-release fertilizer every two to three weeks.

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