Garden planters extend the garden to the patio, entryway, or deck. They can also serve as the boundaries of a garden room, adding privacy. Miniature gardens such as a tropical paradise or a water garden can be created when a full size garden would be too difficult. Creating a desert garden planter takes a little planning but other than bright light doesn't require much maintenance.
Select an assortment of cacti and succulents that have the same light requirements. Some cacti require full sun and others prefer indirect sun. If the planter is to be inside choose those that prefer indirect sun or bright indoor light. Pick tall plants, round plants, those with small rosettes of leaves and a few trailing varieties.
Check the container for drainage holes. Place coffee filters over the holes. The filter keeps the soil and gravel in the container but allows the water to escape. Even though cacti don't need to be watered often it is important that the water drains so the roots don't become water logged. Fill the container 1/3 full with gravel.
Mix up a growing medium of 1/2 potting soil and 1/2 sand. If sand isn't available, very fine gravel used for aquariums can be used. The sand or fine gravel promotes good drainage. Fill the container about 2/3 full of the growing medium.
Arrange the cacti in the pot with the tallest plant in the center, medium ones around the tallest plant, surrounded by the small plants. Place the trailing varieties next to the edge. Plant the cacti close together. They grow slowly and will take awhile to fill in the space. Brace the cacti with a kitchen spoon, wooden spoon or garden hand shovel, as you fill in soil around the cacti.
Thump the container on a firm surface after it has been planted to settle the planting medium. Wait a few days before watering to allow any injured cacti or succulents to heal. Water and add more planting medium if necessary. Finish the planter with a mulch of glass beads, small round river stones or gravel.