How to Start a Planter Garden


Planters allow you to use plants as a decorating element on patios and decks and allow you to have a garden in a small place where it would otherwise not be possible. Whether you are planting vegetables and other edible plants or just want to spice up an area with colorful flowers, planters offer an attractive way to do so. You can use small clay and plastic planters or large wooden barrels and boxes to fit any exterior decorating scheme. Starting your planter gardens with the right medium and supplying them with the proper care ensure they remain healthy and attractive.

Step 1

Choose the location of the planters before you begin filling them with soil and plants. Place planters in areas where they receive six to eight hours of sunlight for most vegetables and some ornamentals. In shady areas, choose ornamental plants that require less sun such as peonies.

Step 2

Check the bottom of the planter for drainage holes. Drill one-half-inch holes in the bottom of plastic and wood planters if no drainage is present. Avoid purchasing clay planters that don't have drainage.

Step 3

Fill the planters with a quality potting mix. Use a commercial soil-less mix or make your own by combining 1 part peat moss, 1 part compost and 1 part vermiculite.

Step 4

Water the soil until the water begins to drip out of the bottom of the planter. Always water this way before planting to ensure the mix is evenly moist throughout.

Step 5

Sow the plants into the planters to the same depth they are at in their nursery containers, except for tomatoes and peppers, which you should plant 2 inches deeper. Space plants as directed on the plant tag to avoid overcrowding and use only plants with the same light and nutrient requirements in the same planter.

Step 6

Check soil moisture daily as containers dry out faster than garden beds. Water when the soil surface just begins to feel dry until the water begins dripping from the bottom. Apply a 1-inch layer of mulch over the soil surface to help preserve moisture between watering.

Step 7

Fertilize every two weeks with a liquid, balanced fertilizer. Alternately, dissolve 2 cups of granular fertilizer in warm water. Mix 2 tablespoons of this with 1 gallon of water and use to water the plants daily.

Tips and Warnings

  • Draining water may stain patios or decks. Use a drip tray under planters to catch the water.

Things You'll Need

  • Planters
  • Drill
  • Potting mix
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Vermiculite
  • Fertilizer


  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Container Vegetable Gardening
Keywords: planter garden, container gardening, patio and deck plants

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.