Are you wanting to add some colour to a small space or grow your own produce? Planter boxes are a fabulous solution to either. Not quite the dainty presentation of a window box, or hefty as a raised bed, planter boxes are a great in-between. Whether you are a newbie or experienced in the garden, this guide provides tips, ideas and pointers. Get your boxes and gardening gloves out, it’s time to dig into your next planter project.
Put the ‘plan’ in your planter box
Before taking on any new project, do some research on what you want to accomplish and the best options for you. For those taking on container gardening for the first time, we’ve broken down the steps and created a video for an easy to follow tutorial. Additionally, if you are keen on a general sprucing up for your home patio, have a look at our patio gardening ideas.
Before your start
As mentioned, planning and preparation are key. Are you deciding to create flower boxes, or contained vegetable boxes? While you may be eager to try both, start with a simple idea and then work your way up. We suggest starting with basic perennial herbs like thyme or mint, which are simple and easy to maintain. If you want to go ahead with planting veggies or flowers, make sure you understand their individual needs and compatibility with their surroundings.
For flowers, consider using thriller, spiller, and filler plants. This term translates to focal point plants, those that spill over the edge of the box, and then adding those that fill the spaces with colour. Create an impressive presentation by planning what will be best showcased in your planter box. Think tall flowers and grasses for height and added privacy, while shorter, frillier leaves provide shape and texture to a display.
For veggies, do your research on what can and cannot live together. For example, beans and tomatoes are terrible soil mates, while the onion and tomato family flourish in each other’s presence. Another great pairing includes beans, broccoli and cabbage (anything in the brassica family).
Soil, sun, spot
After you consider what to plant, research soil, sun exposure and location. Any well-informed gardener knows the importance of quality soil — and this is why so many are fond of planter boxes! You can control the soil you use, whereas those who grow in an urban space do not always know what is in their backyards.
If you are unsure of how much sun exposure your plants will receive during the day, there are plants that are helpful in this circumstance. For very sunny spots, thick, leafy greens can tolerate intense sunshine, whereas the thinner, skinnier-leafed plants will not. Look into xerophytic plants, which can withstand hot and dry climate conditions.
Before you pick up your plants and start planting, make sure to also get a bigger planter box rather than a smaller one. This allows for growth without suppressing or stifling plants rooting.
Caring for your planter box
Another interesting point to consider when planning your planter box is that you will need to water it more than your ground-based plants. To help you master the right balance of watering, explore our guide on watering. With healthy watering, ensure proper drainage. Also, stay vigilant on weeds during the early days. To prevent weeds from growing as well as aid in water retention, use mulch (bark chips, stones, or crushed nut shells).
Post-planter box growth
After your planter box has reached its peak and before you start planning for your next season, create a tracking guide. Take notes on what you’ve planted, how it performed and draw a map to document that season’s growth. This will help you to think about what changes to make in future and also improve soil quality when you rotate your planting schedule.