Visual excitement and practicality make container gardening a terrific choice, whether you choose to exclusively pot in containers or to strategically place them in areas that need an injection of "wow." Whatever direction you take, remember that unique containers, be they in a suburban backyard or a rambling plot on a homestead or farm, can add a captivating and sometimes humorous touch.
Inspiration is only a stroll away. Take a walk around your place with an eye fresh bent on discovery. Look in your toolshed behind the cobwebs to see what's lurking there, and don't forget the back of the garage where most of us store things that don't appear to have much use anymore. Attics can also be a rich source for unique planters.
Almost anything can be used as a container these days: a big old tire, worn-out boots, chimney flues, old dresser drawers, one of your children's rusted bicycles with the two flat tires that's been waiting to go to the landfill for years. Don't forget that empty birdcage. All make great containers. Just make sure the item is not made of or treated with anything toxic.
Opening up to new possibilities is what makes gardening fun. Engage in treasure searches at flea markets and garage sales with this focus in mind. You'll definitely find items to purchase. The real excitement begins when you rush home to decide on a type of planting and location for your new old item. Don't pass on that old wringer washing machine, popcorn maker, well-used wooden toolbox, broken coffee maker, or large pieces of broken crockery.
Wheelbarrows that have outlived their carrying lives make charming containers. You can plant them with everything from vegetables to succulents. Try creating a scene with a life-size straw dolly pushing your wheelbarrow to a new location in the garden.
Container gardening lends itself particularly well to small spaces such as decks, staircases, landings, and borders. It's easy to achieve height and depth by placing containers on staggered blocks. An easy way to dial in exactly the colors that you want, for coordination or contrast, is to break out your paintbrush and add new life to a long-neglected object.
There are many practical considerations that make container gardening a terrific choice for the busy, conservation-minded gardener. This gardening style requires far less soil than beds, and containers are tidy and easy to manage. When cold weather hits, containers can easily be transported indoors or to a shed or greenhouse, thus expanding the range of plants you can play with. Weed control is a breeze, and far less water is needed to maintain contained plantings than those in-ground.
In the end, gardening should be a pleasure. Bringing unique containers into your space can add delight, bringing a smile to your face every time you stroll through your one-of-a-kind creation.
Jerry Pavia contributes regularly to GRIT by sharing his love of garden photography.