Seasonal Garden Containers Bring the Drama

Photo of spring planter
Mixed pansies, hellebores, dianthus, euonymous for early spring

Seasonal garden containers are the throw pillows of the landscape world! Yes, there are actual throw pillows for the outdoors, but nothing adds instant drama to the landscape like a container planting. Refreshing my pots is one of my favorite ways to mark the changing seasons, and it’s a great place for weekend gardeners to unleash their creativity.

While you can certainly do whatever you like in your garden, here are a few useful tips to get your best containers ever this year:

First, consider the containers

  • Start with the right size pots. Most people err on the small side because containers can seem overwhelming when you see them empty at the garden center or online. A rough guide for your front porch is to select containers 1/3 the height of your porch. Note that this might include your plantings, so if you have a very high roof cover, don’t feel you have to find 48″ high pots!
  • Consider the container material. Is it too heavy for you to move? Will you have to water every day because the pot is porous? If so, how will you do that?
  • Create groupings if you have the space. Everything doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but strive for balance across your garden area. This is also a good way to use smaller containers to bigger effect.

Next, choose your plants

There are many schemes for filling containers, but here are some top options:

  • Plant a specimen tree or shrub. This option needs no embellishment, though you may decide to underplant.
  • Follow the “Thrill, Fill and Spill” formula with a tall anchoring plant, mid-range foliage and flowers, and trailing vines.
  • Choose a mono-planting. A container planting of hot pink impatiens is just as impactful as a pot full of variety.

If you’re choosing one of the last two options, it’s critical that you pack your containers full of plant material to get that professional-looking drama! Disregard any instructions on spacing that you see on your plant tags, especially with annuals. Remember- these are seasonal containers, not long-term plantings. Instead, remove most of the dirt from your plant roots so you can really jam your containers full. If you can see dirt, you can fit more plants!

A simple mono-planting of perennials that come back each year.

Of course, the most important thing of all is to have fun with this. Try something new, safe in the knowledge that it will soon be time for your next experiment!