How To Select a Container

Springtime is a great time to add some pop to your garden, container designs are a great addition that add color and act as a design feature. One of the most important parts of planting a container design is selecting the right container, so I thought I’d give you a guide to selecting the container that is right for your situation.

Terracotta – Clay pots that are fired in a kiln they range in color from a pale creamy apricot to a deep orange. These pots can have a smooth texture or be patterned. There are many “grades” of terracotta from inexpensive Mexican pottery to high end Italian variations.

Pros: Durable, large variety of styles, porous for good air circulation and water evaporation (won’t rot roots).

Cons: Can flake or crack if exposed to freezing temperatures and the pots dry out quickly.

Design Styles: Tuscan, Spanish, Formal, or Informal.

Price: Moderately priced and up based on design, thickness, and where they are manufactured.

Glazed – Clay pots that are glazed and re-fired. These pots come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. You can easily find one to suit your every whim!

Pros: Holds moisture in better than terracotta and are very durable.

Cons: They can chip and crack in freezing temperatures, and if the pots are thick they will be heavy!

Design Styles: Modern, Eclectic, Asian.

Price: Moderate to High based on quality and style.

Concrete - Concrete is very flexible so this material can be molded into a large variety of shapes. They can be natural or painted, textured or plain. There is also a lightweight version called hypertufa.

Pros: Weight is good in a windy garden, very durable.

Cons: HEAVY, can flake or crack in freezing temperatures.

Design Style: Most any as it can mimic many styles. Modern, Tuscan, Mediterranean, Cottage and more…

Price: Moderate to expensive

Cast Iron – Is a very malleable material, iron can be cast into many shapes and styles. It can be left to rust naturally or finished for a more polished look.

Pros: They do not tip easily, lasts virtually forever (great in windy areas).


Design Style: Rustic, Antique, Modern, Eclectic, Cottage

Price: Expensive (but it will last forever)

Wood - Oak Barrels, & window boxes are often wood. They can be painted, stained or left natural depending on your desired look.

Pros: Great insulation for plant’s roots in hot summer, rarely damaged by freeze.

Cons: Finish needs to be reapplied occasionally to keep it looking “fresh”, will rot over time if not finished.

Design Style: Rustic, Cottage, Asian

Price: Variable depending on style, type of wood, and manufacturer.

I recently had a bad experience with a beautifully styled wood planter created for a new garden. The wood used for the job was too thin and the carpenter didn’t take water into consideration – check out the result:

With a little bit of thought and some new material (composite, such as used to make decks) the problem was solved. We made sure to add adequate drainage and are going to keep an eye on the new containers to make sure they with stand the elements.

Alternative Materials (look alike) pots, ones that are made to look like concrete or terracotta.

Pros: They are less expensive than the real thing.

Cons: They are often too light and can take off in the wind. They are not the real thing.

My thought is, if you want a look, spend the extra money to get a good quality container in the material that is right for your design style (I feel the same about concrete, why stamp it to look like stone... just use stone.)

Design Style: Most all

Price: Usually inexpensive to moderate in price.

Now it's time to get out to your nursery or pottery store and find the container that is right to add just the accent you need for your garden!

If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at julie@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net or visit my website.


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