Tips and Inspirations for Great Container Gardens!

March 30, 2011 by

Photo: Kerry Michaels

According to Kerry Michaels, who writes about container gardening for, there are absolutely no rules when it comes to container gardening, but there are some tips and guidelines that can be helpful when designing your container.

1. Figure out your goal
Do you want a casual look, or a more formal design? Do you want a container that looks good instantly, or one that will grow and fill out? Do you want to include edibles? The answers to these questions will determine what you use for a container, as well as how many and which types of plants you will buy.

2. Almost anything can be a container
From old buckets to colanders to clamshells – everything is fair game. However, make sure that whatever you choose has good drainage or that you add drainage by drilling or poking holes – lots of them – in your container.

3. Use good a good quality potting soil
Cheaper is not better when it comes to potting soil. A good, all-purpose potting mix is worth the price. Also, it’s important to know if your potting mix already has fertilizer in it. If it doesn’t you will have to mix in a slow release fertilizer before you pot up your plants.

4. Bring your container when you choose your plants
If your pot isn’t too big or cumbersome, bring it to the nursery or wherever you buy your plants. That way you will be sure you have a good number of plants that are the right proportions for your planter.

5. Evaluate your spot
Make sure you know how much sun an area gets before you buy your plants. Almost everyone overestimates sun exposure, so really time it out, so you can get plants that will be happy in that area. And don’t worry, no matter how little or how much sun you get there are beautiful plants that will thrive there.


How To Make a Clamshell Miniature Container Garden

By Kerry Michaels, from

Kerry Michaels’s Recipe for Clamshell Miniature Container Garden

What you’ll need:
Potting soil
Hens and chicks
Sphagnum Moss
Large clamshells

For complete directions, visit

Kerry Michaels is a writer and photographer. She has a container gardening website ( and is the garden editor for ChopChop (, a healthy lifestyle magazine for kids. I will have the pleasure of joining Kerry, along 18 other bloggers, at P Allen Smith’s Garden2Blog trends symposium next month.
From Life on the Balcony:
How to Create a Pallet Garden & Other Inspirations

Photo: Fern Richardson, Life on the Balcony

Here’s another cool idea: Fern Richardson of Life on the Balcony recently posted about How to Turn a Pallet Into a Garden. Check out her blog for other fantastic container gardening ideas and general inspiration for gardening in small spaces such as your patio or balcony.

Join the Sowing Circle!
Why not get involved with Fern’s Community Container Garden Project? Visit Life on the Balcony for great tips about starting your container garden and join the project. With the special Life on the Balcony discount code, LOTBSEEDS, you can get 10% off the Life on the Balcony Seed Collection from Aha! Modern Living, Jayme Jenkins’s delicious online store that you will want to visit anyway! Need some community support getting your seeds started? Join the “grow along” conversation by visiting the Life on the Balcony Community Forum!

Fern Richardson will be joining me and Kerry Michaels, next month when P. Allen Smith and his Garden Home Partners host 20 garden bloggers from around the U.S. and Canada at Garden2Blog, two days of trend sharing and knowledge exchange at Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain. Stay tuned as I will be reporting back with photos and ideas gleamed from this exciting event where we’ll be touring Little Rock area gardens designed by Allen and his team at P. Allen Smith and Associates, then spending a full day at the Garden Home with workshops and tours of the farm. So excited!


And don’t forget to submit your container garden photo to our
Think Outside the Planter Box Photo Contest
for a chance to win a Lechuza Diamante self-irrigating planter!






  1. Annie Haven/Authentic Haven Brand said:

    Fabulous post about Kerry’s succulent plantings and Fern’s Pallet garden both such inspiring gardeners Annie

    — March 31, 2011 @ 10:12

  2. Julia said:

    Very helpful post, I’m always looking for tips on container gardening. Thank you!

    — March 31, 2011 @ 11:14

  3. Sowing Stories at P Allen Smith’s Garden2Blog | Urban Gardens | Unlimited Thinking For Limited Spaces Pingback said:

    […] writes the Container Gardening column for and recently wrote a wonderful guest post on container gardening here at Urban Gardens. When Kerry and her family moved from Manhattan to the coast of Maine, she quickly found out that […]

    — April 7, 2011 @ 19:52

  4. Bren said:

    Love this share!

    — April 8, 2011 @ 16:22

  5. 4 Things to do on Earth Day | Northern Virginia Magazine Pingback said:

    […] If you don’t have any room in your backyard, or need some inspiration: there are so many New Yorkers (we all know that they are REALLY short on space- check out this fire escape garden) who grow their plants in containers. […]

    — April 20, 2011 @ 11:22

  6. Bekah said:

    Thanks for the sustaining inspiration! Great post, I found your site using a good search for urban container gardening. Picking up pallets for free from the local Whole Foods. I shared this post with all my FB buddies =)

    — March 15, 2012 @ 12:24

  7. Wendi said:

    Just wondering if I could use heavy duty green garbage bags instead of landscape paper for wrapping the back of the pallett garden?

    — April 26, 2012 @ 19:16

  8. Balcony Values said:

    Nice Inspirations…!!

    — June 22, 2012 @ 06:17

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