How to Create Drainage in a Container Garden


Container gardens provide easy access to those with limited mobility and provide a reliable alternative for gardening in areas where the soil is unsuitable for growing. Constructed to any size and placed in a sunny location, container gardens typically produce abundant fruit in a small space. Planting and tending growing crops requires less labor as cultivating between rows in not necessary. Weeds are controlled easily by hand, as the canopy created by plants often chokes out invasive weeds. The key to success with container gardens is maintaining rich, well-drained soil and creating a means for drainage, if necessary.

Step 1

Place raise beds or wooden containers without bottoms on top of gravel to encourage water to drain from the container into the soil. Select a raised area of your yard and avoid placing the container in areas that remain wet after rains.

Step 2

Drill drainage holes in the bottom of pots or containers, if possible. Position three to four 1/4- to 1/2-inch holes (depending on the size of the pot) evenly spaced on the outside of the pot 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the bottom.

Step 3

Layer the bottom of containers with 1 inch of gravel or small pebbles.

Step 4

Fill containers 3/4 full with a mixture of equal parts garden loam or potting soil, peat moss and perlite or vermiculite.

Step 5

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure and mix it in well with the soil. Organic matter improves texture and promotes good drainage.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Gravel or small pebbles
  • Garden loam or potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite or vermiculite
  • Compost or well-rotted manure


  • Aggie Horticulture: Vegetable Gardening in Containers
  • Purdue Uinversity Department of Horticulture: Container and Raised Bed Gardening

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois: Tips for Great Looking Container Gardens
Keywords: container garden drainage, improve soil drainage, soil drainage

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.