Straightforward Container Plantings for Intriguing Garden Design

Whatever they call them, pots, tubs and containers have been a characteristic of gardens because folks started gardening. Their flexibility is perhaps their greatest advantage, especially as gardens become bigger and there’s more stress about ways to use the limited space.

Traditionally, container planting has been correlated with topiary — boxwood (Buxus sp) and yew (Taxus baccata) specifically — or included half cold-hardy plants for winter and half tender bedding to create a spectacular show of colour and fragrance through summer.

Containers now are becoming intrinsic to the design rather just decorative additions. The main feature in this shift is the way of planting inside the containers and the way the containers can be found within the overall garden design. We’re currently seeing research in simplification: container planted using one species instead of the conventional mixing of species, and the grouping and repetition of similar containers to create impact within the overall garden design.

Complement Architecture With Containers

This designer has employed simply planted containers to strengthen the sharp lines of the transparent general design. Boxwood has been closely clipped to create a strong outline against the wall behind.

The planters have been carefully chosen to fit the website, both in size and material, but are similar to the fabric of their garden structure, so they do not dominate the scheme. The proper clipped plantings from the main containers are nicely echoed from the small planters on the desk.

Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture

When containers are sited in the entrance of a structure, the house becomes the context in which the container is seen. Some folks may prefer big, blousy, vibrant containers that comparison with the environment, but the muted colors of the containers and the plantings fit in with the neutral colors of the building and hardscape.

Though the succulent plantings are blended inside the containers, their comparable tones easily blend together. The clever design trick here is how the bowl planter is replicated closer to the house — connecting the eye between the two bowls and playing the perspective.

AMS Landscape Design Studios, Inc..

These big geranium-filled terra-cotta pots backed by overhanging citrus trees tend to be more than simply a garden attribute; they’re an integral part of the design — the terra-cotta pots reflect the tiles trimming the paving. Finding an appropriate container and the ideal plants to the space is essential.

It can be tempting to fill spaces with many small planters and pots, filled with many distinct plants, but this can overwhelm a space.

Samarotto Design Group

Group Pots for Impact

Though maybe not implanted with the very same species, such containers have been planted with foliage in similar tones. Texture and the differing foliage shape give elegance.

The grouping of containers creates a more integrated design than simply dotting individual containers around the garden. Though single containers create great garden focal points, they could get lost in the greater scheme of a design. In smaller spaces, particularly if containers are full of plants that are similar, a grouping of containers can transform a room and create real drama.

Daniel Nolan for Flora Grubb Gardens

This collection of similarly shaped containers creates an amazing, coherent screen that is intriguing in its own right but also fits in as part of the general garden design.

Great care has been taken with the selection of the containers — their muted, warm colors are an ideal foil for the glaucous succulents and foxtail fern implanted inside them, but they also reflect the kind of the garden.

BLUE Renovation & Landscape

Insert Perspective With Repetition

This line of variegated yuccas implanted in tall containers is much more than just decoration — it uses a favorite characteristic of modern garden design, replicate. To get the best outcomes, each container needs to mirror the following with an identical planting — the easier, the better.

Repetition will help create view and harmony in a design, particularly in spaces where boundaries need to be defined.

A insistent line of containers can earn a garden seem longer or wider.


Repetitive planters with identical plantings can also be employed on a smaller scale. Care has been taken in fitting containers here. The neutral colour creates an excellent foil for the brightly flowering geraniums.

Little Miracles Designs

Think Outside Evergreens

Designers frequently use evergreens in containers — trimmed, formal evergreens, such as boxwood and yew, or architectural crops such as yucca or phormium. However, a vast selection of foliage and flowering plants can be valuable in creating a fresh, coherent theme in a modern garden design.

The ease of this black bowl contrasts so beautifully with the stark white of this overplanted begonia.

Debora carl landscape design

This low bowl has been filled using the loose-growing Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, making a great feature on its own. Repetition or a grouping of comparable planters would just accelerate the beauty of its foliage.

Secret Gardens

This gorgeous, easy stoneware container elevated high over a patio is planted with beautiful bougainvillea. Its nearly psychedelic colour exemplifies perfectly how the easiest of container plantings can be the most effective, no matter the garden style.


This modern London courtyard garden by Amir Schlezinger shows the main principles of containers as a fundamental characteristic of contemporary garden design: placing and website, scale and grouping — but most important, the selection of plantings used from the containers.

Care has been taken here with the selection of planting inside the containers; Schlezinger kept to a very restricted regime that does not overpower the modern design. The large evergreen boxwood balls topping the granite containers have been left finely trimmed to match another informal plantings of blossoms and bamboo. The containers have been replicated to give maximum impact and create perspective.

Instead of appearing imposed on the website, the carefully chosen planters are part of the total design, softening the hardness of their fencing and paving while being a feature in their own right.

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