Liven Up Your Patio or Balcony with a Container Garden
by Kate McIntyre
Old House Web Columnist
Container gardens are a great option for people who cannot have regular gardens and for anyone who is looking for a way to brighten up a porch or patio for the summer. You can grow a wide variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables in a very limited space.
Benefits of a Container Garden
Container gardens make great choices for apartment dwellers and condo owners with limited yard space. If your urban lifestyle is making you feel cut off from nature, a container garden can add a dose of color to your surroundings. Container gardens also are ideal for people with limited mobility, who might have trouble kneeling and bending over for extended periods to tend a regular garden.
Planting and Maintaining Your Container Garden
To plant your container garden, you will need some containers that look good together, along with soil, plants, and slow-release fertilizer. It is essential that the container you pick has adequate drainage holes. Be sure to flip containers over to check the drainage before you make a purchase. You should pick plants of several different heights including some low-growing plants, such as Lobelia or Nasturtiums, which will cascade over the sides of the container. The tallest plants should be placed in the center of the container, with the shorter ones nestled around them. Most herbs grow well in containers, and vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, and lettuce also can thrive in this environment.
Once you have completed your planting, you will need to do some minimal upkeep to keep your new garden looking its best. You might find that you need to water your containers more often than your regular garden. As flowers wither, you should deadhead them to ensure a long blooming season. If you have tender perennials planted in your containers and you experience severe winters in your area, shelter the containers in your garage or basement during the coldest months. They will be ready for another growing season as soon as spring arrives.
About the Author
Kate McIntyre is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oregon State University.