Creating container gardens is a great way to celebrate Earth Day (even when it isn't, exactly, Earth Day)— they bring natural color and beauty to your yard, they require less water than full garden beds, and you can get really creative with repurposed and recycled containers. When choosing plants, look for varieties that naturally grow together in nature and that will thrive given your yard's own sun exposure.
We talked to three expert gardeners about how to build four-season container gardens that will last all year long.
1. Use a variety of low-growing succulents
The great thing about succulents is they can thrive in small
spaces for a really long time — you don't have to replace them each season.
Erika Hanson from Anthropek Containers + Gardens recommends using succulents
with contrasting shapes and colors to create the most dramatic effect.
Plant succulents in a weather-resistant hypertufa
pot, which is not only lightweight and mobile, but also ages gracefully and promotes proper drainage. You can dig up lots of online tutorials for making your own DIY hypertufa pots, using just about any container as a mold.
As for the soil mix for succulents, Hanson suggests incorporating some good compost and poultry grit
. It's also important to elevate the container to allow water to drain freely.
2. Provide good drainage so plants last longer
Joanna Guzzetta, owner of Four Seasons Container Gardens
, says even though container gardens thrive the best when you change the soil and plants each season, you can help your plants last beyond the season by using fillers in the bottom of your container, under the soil, to provide good drainage.
She recommends a reusable, long-lasting filler called packing pearls
, but never use foam packing peanuts because they are toxic to plants.
You can also place clean plastic pots upside down in the bottom of the container, but as they are prone to becoming brittle and cracking over time, they need to be replaced every so often.
3. Build around a tall evergreen plant or shrub
Kerri Laudig from Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses likes the idea of using an evergreen or a slow-growing shrub like juniper, cypress or dwarf crepe myrtle as a focal point for your container garden. Then you can seasonally change out the flowers surrounding it.
Laudig says a juniper will last about three years in a container before it becomes root-bound. You can either transplant it into a bigger container or remove it temporarily to prune the roots and put it back into the original container.
She suggests using a water-soluble fertilizer regularly and adding fresh soil to the top as needed to keep the plants healthy.