Home Decor

Five ways to make a beautiful container garden for spring

Find out which plants are best for windowsills, big planters and shady areas with less light. Plus, a cool idea to repurpose a chair into a statement piece for your yard!
By Janet Ho and Anna Redman
Five ways to make a beautiful container garden for spring

Five ways to make a beautiful garden container

Turn old items into cool containers

We've seen it all: repurposed shelves, bikes, baskets, wagons and chairs. Creating a one-of-a-kind decorative container adds interest to a garden and spotlights your favourite perrenials. 

Get this look: Try geraniums with ivy, black-eyed Susan vines, or tuberous begonias for shade.  These plants will help guide your eye rather then leaving it to wildly jump around. “Like images on a page, you want the eye to start at one place, before being guided to each of the different elements,” says Lee Valley Tools gardening expert Peg Brule.

Instructions on how to repurpose a chair into a garden container:

repurposed chair garden

A cook's garden

Store-bought herbs don't have a long shelf-life. With your very own herb garden, you'll be able to enjoy fresh herbs quickly and easily. 

“Herbs work really well in containers — especially those that can be invasive, like mint,” says Peg. She suggests combining parsley, arjoram and mint for a fresh green look with lots of texture. Thyme can also be very pleasing to the eye, but is trickier as it is a slower-growing herb that doesn't need as much water. However, “it will help you to create a wonderful, layered effect.” She advises the use of a traditional planter pot. “Strawberry planters are great for herbs as they show off each plant and also stop any one plant from dominating the growing space.” 

Herb garden

Decorate a windowsill

Windowsill flowers do double-duty by brightening a home's exterior and adding the scent of fresh florals into the home.

If you're after a monochromatic look, consider using Martha Washington geraniums, licorice and trailing calibrachoas. This can be very striking, especially in a larger planter. Try accenting it with other thirst-defying plants like pansies and petunias.  Alternatively, if you're after a bright and dramatic effect achieved by intense and complementary colours, Peg says that geraniums, petunias and coleuses can be found in any colour desired and are good, no-fail basics. 

“Anything can go in a larger container on the patio or in the yard, but smaller flowers might get lost or crowded out by a bigger container,” says Peg. Use your window box to make the most of the smaller staples. Plants with larger flowers or leaves that will be seen from farther away are always a good choice. Note: Beware of watering needs. The shallowness of smaller containers means you will need to water more frequently, so it's best to use them for housing drought-resistant plants. 

windowsill container garden box with tulips, daffodils and more

Shady spot

For a shady spot that needs some sprucing, a deep planter filled with coleuses, potato vines, ivy, begonias and dark-coloured varieties are ideal. Other great go-to plants are fuchsias, impatiens, hostas, bleeding hearts and ferns.  Important tip: do not forget to use fertilizer! “This should be done regularly — every two weeks at a diluted rate,” says Peggy. “Never fertilize if the soil is dry — water first, then fertilize the next day, or you risk 'burning' the roots with the fertilizer.”

To keep your deck, patio and other shady spots clean, you might want to consider pot feet or pot toes. They give your planters a slight lift, which helps air circulation and prevents mildew. 

patio garden terrace with floral

A big arrangement

Create a statement planter in your spring garden by selecting one or two “feature” plants. Then fill in the open spaces with smaller flowers and grasses in varying colours, sizes and textures. Early spring is the perfect time to plant lily bulbs, gladiolus corms or dahlia and tuberous begonias to boost your garden’s bloom. 

Two important tips about plant care:

1. Be careful how much sun exposure you give your plants. They can burn, just like us, but instead of turning bright red their leaves get very pale and blanched. Fully-grown plants and seedlings alike need to be gradually re-introduced into the sun after a long winter indoors. Set them outside for a couple of hours each day and gradually increase the exposure. Though you are unlikely to notice, leaves will thicken and become a slightly darker and more intense green, allowing them to spend more time in the sun without damage.

2. If you're planting outside it's important to make sure your containers have plenty of drainage holes, especially since some larger planters don't come with them. If you're planting inside, however, you'll want to prevent an overflow of water using a saucer or small stones as a makeshift reservoir. Place the stones at the bottom of the planter before you add soil. This will ensure the roots can still draw the water they need.


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