Starting a successful container garden from scratch is simple if you follow a few guidelines. Container gardening gives you a lot of flexibility and for the gardeners who have them, have their own reasons for starting them. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also interesting and in the case of urban environments, putting all your plants in garden pots may be the only option.

Making The Right Choices For Containers

Having a variety of pot sizes is key to a successful container garden. Starting with a few larger sized pots (three or four) and increasing the quantity as you go to medium and small garden pots. By picking out a bright color for one of your large pots, you will definitely draw attention to that particular area – which is OK if that is your intention.

Where To Put Your Pots

Depending on the size of your space, start with larger pots that are about two or three feet tall. This will become a focal point to draw your eye in. Use existing focal point to place these large pots such as, a corner, next to a permanent pole, or near an important piece of furniture. You can also achieve the opposite effect to draw the eye AWAY from sore spots, like air conditioners, electric boxes, etc.

Now that you have the large pots placed where you want your focal points to be, place a few of the medium sized pots close to the larger ones. Try to imagine how the trailing plants from the large pots will look when you are placing the medium sized ones around them. Usually two or three medium sized garden pots will be sufficient.

Now you can fill in the remaining areas with small pots. Since there are no set rules to this, place them randomly where they look good to you!

Preparing The Pots

Seal the insides of any terracotta pots with a good water sealant. Make sure all of your pots have a hole in the bottom for water drainage. If not, you will have to drill them with half inch holes (especially wood containers). To keep all the dirt from falling out the bottom, you’ll need to cover the inside of the hole with a couple layers of newspaper, a small piece of screen or, shards from a broken pot. Place a bowl under each pot if they are sitting on a wood deck or patio.

Plant Selection

Its best to have up to three types of plants in the larger pots – a trailing plant that falls down the sides of the pot and covers up the top rim, a cover plant that fills in the middle and an upright plant that stands out tall from the rest. Experiment with different types and colors but stick to plants that require the same amount of watering. Have fun and use your imagination!

Chuck Wherty has been working in gardens since his early childhood and has always been interested in educating others on garden pot and landscaping techniques. If you’d like to know more about container gardening, visit


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