The Top 71 Container Garden Ideas – Landscaping and Design
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” – Leo Buscaglia
Green-thumbed or not, gardening is a central part of making your house feel like a home. For those of us without the resources to create an in-ground garden, though, it’s easy to feel like something is missing from our outdoor living spaces.
Lucky for us, plants don’t need to be in the ground to grow big, strong, and beautiful. No matter your desired aesthetic, someone’s sure to have an innovative container gardening idea to achieve it.
So before you renounce yourself to a bland, lifeless landscape, check out these container garden ideas suited for every space, style, and occasion.
1. Backyard Container Garden Ideas
Whether you’re a renter or tight on outdoor space, or you just enjoy the look of lush potted plants, garden containers make an excellent addition to any backyard.
Arrange planters in groups to mimic the look of an overflowing garden bed. It doesn’t matter if every single container matches. However, you should at least agree upon a general theme (like color, material, or shape).
The types of plants you grow in your backyard container garden will rely heavily on your location and personal preferences. Rest assured that you can grow annual flowers, vegetables, and even many perennials in containers just like you would the ground.
2. Balcony or Rooftop Container Garden Ideas
There’s no debating that living in the city has plenty of perks. But having the room and resources to grow a large garden certainly isn’t one of them. Fortunately, container gardens give pretty much everyone the chance to raise plants of their own.
Arrange your potted plants in whatever way makes the most sense for the given space. If you use your balcony or rooftop for gardening and nothing else, feel free to spread containers around as you please. Otherwise, invest in space-saving solutions like stands and hanging pots.
Don’t forget to invest in a quick and efficient solution for watering your plants. If your balcony or rooftop lacks running water, you might be stuck hauling buckets to and from your new container garden!
3. Deck Container Garden Ideas
When designing an outdoor deck, we tend to focus on things like patio furniture and grilling supplies. But a deck is the ideal spot for starting a container garden from scratch.
Place symmetrical planters on each side of your deck’s staircase to make your outdoor living space feel more welcoming. You can also hang window box-style containers along your deck railing to add color and life without losing any usable space.
To prevent water damage to wooden deck boards, consider placing clay flower pots on a stand or shelf. For herb or vegetable gardening, use an elevated planter box for easier access.
4. Flowering and Ornamental Plants Container Garden Ideas
As a container gardener, don’t limit your selection of ornamental plants to annuals. Many flowering perennials feel right at home in a container. All you need is the right potting mix and watering schedule.
In terms of aesthetics, your choice of container is just as important as the plant itself. Basic glazed pots are always a good option. But don’t be afraid to complement your favorite ornamental plant with a one-of-a-kind planter.
Some ornamental plants require a special container to look their best. Add a trellis to vining plants — you can train many species to grow in unique shapes with a little patience. Trailing plants are best-suited to hanging planters where they can drape over the edge.
5. Herb and Vegetable Garden Container Garden Ideas
Whether you fancy yourself a home chef or not, growing your own fruit, vegetables, and herbs is a remarkably rewarding experience.
Plan your container garden around how your chosen vegetables and herbs will grow. For example, you can save space by planting onion with zucchini. These two plants grow in entirely different ways and won’t encroach on each other.
You can also use edible plants in decorative container gardening. You can use bushy herbs like basil and oregano as fillers in a flower arrangement.
Growing plants from seed takes considerably more time and space than buying young plants, so keep this in mind when planning out your future vegetable garden.
6. Indoor Container Garden Ideas
There’s no rule saying a garden must be outside. Just accumulate enough houseplants, and you’ll have an indoor container garden all your own.
Placing containers solely on the floor will mean quickly running out of space. Instead, use shelves, windowsills, and furniture to expand your container garden design. Macrame and hanging basket planters are a couple of other great ways to fit as many plants into your home as possible.
If you’re not a big fan of plain terra cotta pots, invest in planter covers that match the rest of your home decor. You can also mix-and-match containers of varying sizes, shapes, and colors for a boho-inspired aesthetic.
7. Patio Container Garden Ideas
If your patio serves as an outdoor living or dining room, arrange your potted plant collection just like you would indoors. Use large containers to fill out corners and frame furniture pieces. Place an echeveria or similar succulent in a small clay pot on your small patio table as a centerpiece.
You can line patio edges with traditional clay pots or build custom planter boxes to act as a border. Plant small hedge-like plants like boxwood to divide your outdoor patio space from the rest of your lawn.
With a big enough planter, you can even grow ornamental shrubs and trees on your patio. Citrus trees, eucalyptus, hibiscus, and palms are perfect for a tropical look. For an old English garden, sprinkle rose and hydrangea bushes around your patio.
8. Plant Decor Container Garden Ideas
Plants have been used as living artwork throughout much of human history. The art of topiary pruning dates back to the Roman Empire, if not further. So it’s pretty impressive to see these trends hold strong even in today’s landscaping.
Skyscraper-esque hedges might not be feasible in a container garden, but you’ll be surprised by what you can do. Boxwood shrubs are the most popular species for potted topiary. This plant requires shaping each spring, but after that, minor touch-ups are all you need to maintain its shape.
If you want your container garden to look like artwork, a good base is a must. Invest in a set of matching, heavy-duty planters that you can refill each year with your favorite annuals. During the winter months, swap out your flowers for dried branches, grasses, and evergreens.
9. Planter Ideas Container Garden Ideas
Your containers are decor in and of themselves, so get creative. You can repurpose an old wheelbarrow, wine barrel, or chiminea for a rustic garden container design. Or use an old pair of boots or tires for a quaint farmhouse-inspired pot cover.
Metal buckets (with added drainage holes) are a great alternative to plastic pots. You can also paint pretty much any planter to suit your current garden decor.
There are all kinds of out-of-the-box planter ideas out there, but don’t neglect your plants’ basic needs. Placing a grow bag or terra cotta pot inside your makeshift container will protect the roots. You can also add pebbles to the bottom (under the potting soil) to prevent over-watering.
10. Porch Container Garden Ideas
Place tiered planters leading up your porch staircase or clustered to frame your front door. While the plants inside should adhere to a single color palette, vary each set of planters slightly. Try to limit your main “thrillers” to the largest planter for the most dramatic effect.
If your porch features windows looking out onto the entryway, add window boxes. There are many types available on the market, including temporary ones that won’t leave behind any damage to your home’s exterior. You can plant window boxes by themselves or coordinate them with the rest of your porch container garden ideas.
Don’t forget to include some hanging planters in your porch design, if possible. Asparagus fern is a great container plant that will drape beautifully overhead. Ferns are particularly suited to covered porches where bright sunlight is sparse.
11. Small Backyard Container Garden Ideas
You can fit a lot more plants into a small backyard when you use containers rather than garden beds. Cluster your planters together to give the illusion of in-ground landscaping or spread them out to let each plant shine on its own.
To make the most of your small backyard, take advantage of every surface. Mount potted plants on vertical surfaces like a fence or exterior siding. Hang planters from roof supports, tree branches, or a shepherd’s hook stuck in the ground.
Some plants need big, heavy planters. Still, try to keep your container garden as portable as possible. If you plan to overwinter your plants inside, being able to move everything around is especially important. Before moving your containers, let the soil almost completely dry out to cut down on weight.
12. Vertical Garden Container Garden Ideas
Vertical container gardening has taken the homestead community by storm, and for a good reason. Whether you’re growing herbs, vegetables, or just like the look of potted plants, vertical planting saves a ridiculous amount of space.
You don’t need a full-scale greenhouse to take advantage of vertical container gardening in principle. Use a table or shelves to layer plants atop each other. To free up even more ground space, hang your vertical planter system on a fence or exterior wall.
As far as what to use for your vertical garden system, there are plenty of options out there. Many gardeners repurpose old tables and bookshelves for their container garden. You might need to apply a weather sealant to repurposed wood items for longevity. You can also buy hanging and freestanding systems with specific designs for growing outdoor plants.
Container Garden FAQs
If you want the plants inside to survive longer than a few weeks, yes. Sadly, many companies sell planters without drainage holes already drilled.
With the right power drill attachment, it’s easy to drill drainage holes into most pot materials. But the easiest solution will always be to check every planter for a drainage hole before buying.
To make things even more complicated, some pre-drilled drainage holes are too small. These will become clogged with soil and drown your plant’s roots. Use the same technique as above to make the holes larger before using these planters for container planting.
Most floral designers follow a simple formula to create balanced, showstopping containers. This system divides up plants into three categories: Thrillers, fillers, and spillers.
Thrillers are tall plants that stand out above the rest. These are often, but not always, the most colorful flower in the bunch. For a foliage plant arrangement, use caladium or your favorite species of ornamental grass. Place thrillers in the center or back of your container.
Fillers are mid-height plants that grow out rather than up. Choose plants that complement your thriller’s color and texture — you’ll need more than one variety for most containers. Plant fillers around the thrillers but leave some room around the edge.
Finally, spillers are plants that trail over the rim of your container. Common examples include creeping Jenny, sweet potato vine, and calibrachoa. While these plants don’t always offer much in terms of color, they bring a lot of dimension to your floral arrangement when planted along the container’s edge.
Container gardens need a bit more care to make it through winter than their in-ground brethren. Keep in mind that the best overwintering practices will depend on the individual plant species.
In general, you should bring small pots into a shed or garage. Cut the foliage back at the end of fall. You can dig up bulb plants and move them somewhere dry, cool, and dark.
Potted perennials also won’t be as hardy as they would be in the ground. Insulate large containers with hay and burlap. Avoid materials that will stop moisture from getting to the potting soil.