Contain Your Excitement! Here’s the 101 on Successful Container Gardening

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Contain Your Excitement! Here’s the 101 on Successful Container Gardening

container gardening

You don’t have to own acres of land to satisfy your green fingers. Whether you have a driveway, a tiny balcony, or even a roof terrace, container gardening is the perfect way to bring some plants into your home.

Even better, the type of greenery that thrives in small containers also happens to be ideal for growing your own kitchen garden. Multipurpose gardening in a small space? Sounds ideal!

If you want to try your hand at growing your own herbs or want to add some color to your small apartment balcony, here’s everything you need to know about creating your own tiny garden.

Who Should Consider Container Gardening?

The great thing about container gardening is that it suits any size and scale of home.

A large window ledge or outdoor window box is perfect for growing small herbs or pretty orchids to brighten up a living space. A potted bay tree by your front door lends a continental air and delightful fragrance for any passer-by.

Even if you have acres of land, containers are ideal for those who struggle to spend a lot of time on their knees. Raised beds, barrels, and stepped containers are perfect for people with limited mobility.

Garden containers are also a fantastic way to test out your green aptitude, too. Rather than going all-out on a large garden for your first project, you can easily learn about soil, plants, and ongoing garden care on a small scale.

Rental Tenant? No Problem!

Another fantastic selling point of using various containers to create your garden is that you’re not going to break any tenancy agreements

Containers don’t have to be permanent fixtures – and that means you can take them with you when you move, too. 

Adding some color with plants may even impress your landlord, as some greenery always helps to spruce up even the blandest of environments.

Plants That Love Gardening Containers

Whether you simply want to add some color to your roof terrace or create a tasty kitchen herb garden, there are plenty of container-loving plants to choose from.


Any herb will grow well in a container. The larger the container, the bigger your herb plant will eventually grow.

The growing conditions for each type will vary, but you can be sure to easily find a suitable spot for your chosen herb. For example, rosemary thrives in sunny yet sheltered areas while cilantro or mint love the shade. 

Small Shrubs

Larger containers such as barrels are ideal for small shrubs and miniature tree versions. Shrubs are hardy and will grow even with very little maintenance.

Ferns, ornamental grasses, and lavender do particularly well in container gardens.


The only limit to the number of veggies you can grow is the number of containers your space will hold!

Some vegetables, such as potatoes, can be grown in specially-designed deep pots to allow for a harvest without disturbing new growth.

Other vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, can be grouped together in large pots for even more variety in a tiny garden space.

Dwarf variations of larger vegetables, like squash or pumpkins, love to grow in containers, too.

Leafy salad plants such as lettuce are perfect for DIY container gardens. They are easy to grow, take little maintenance, and provide a tasty meal too!

What’s the Best Soil for Containers?

Garden soil is too dense for the fragile environment of a container. The tight space will be too compacted with normal soil and inhibit root growth.

Instead, choose houseplant soil. This is lighter and will allow maximum root growth in the container.

If you’re using very large or deep containers, you’ll need a mix of lighter soil and a coarser planting mix. This is readily available from all garden shops.

It’s a good idea to place your pots where you want them before you fill them. This will prevent you from moving laden pots which are not only heavy but could damage newly-planted shrubs too.

Top Container Tips for Your Garden

To make sure your tiny garden is a success, consider these things first.

1. Consider Your Container Size Carefully

What do you want to grow? Find out how much space, light, and shade it requires. This will determine your container size.

Does your feature plant grow well with other types? You may like to grow a wider variety of plants in a group of fewer large pots. This creates a visual masterpiece when the plants have grown, and reduces the overall space required for your garden.

2. Set up Suitable Drainage Options

Plants can drown! Make sure there is plenty of suitable drainage in each pot.

Every pot must have at least one drainage hole in the base – the more, the better. If your garden is for an indoor spot like a window, make sure you place deep plates under your containers and drain them regularly.

As well as drainage holes, you need some type of filter. This prevents the soil from washing away through the holes. Ideal filters include old newspapers or paper towels – don’t use rocks as these can block the holes.

You may want to use gravel at the bottom of very large containers to minimize the soil required.

3. What Container Material Do You Need?

There are many different container materials to choose from, but the one best for your tiny garden depends on your plants, location, and regional temperatures.

Terracotta Pots

These pots look lovely but are fragile. They’re also heavy so if you plan to move your containers around, look for an alternative.

Concrete Containers

Concrete has a delightfully rugged feel to it and you can even make your own pots at home. It is very hardy and heavy, so it’s ideal for larger shrubs in long-term containers that you don’t intend to move.

Metal Pots

Metal pots are easy to maintain and have a rustic look about them. However, if you live in a very hot region, metal may not be the best option as it will heat up and sizzle your plant roots.

Plastic Troughs and Pots

Plastic pots are perfect for the beginner gardener. They are lightweight, come in a wide range of styles and colors, and you can even get them to look like more expensive terracotta pots too.

If you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter, and you’re not planning to shelter your plants in the snowy and breezy months, steer away from plastic. It can become brittle in cold temperatures, or blow over in the wind.

Stock Up on Garden Tools

There you have it: everything you need to know to get started to create your own container garden on a roof terrace, balcony, or driveway.

Now your container gardening plans are starting to take shape, it’s time to stock up on the essential tools to maintain your tiny garden.

From watering cans to fertilizer, check out our gardening tools starter guide so you don’t forget anything!