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How to Plant Driveway Containers

autumn driveway image by graham tomlin from

Container gardens provide portable color that can change with the seasons. They offer an attractive choice for landscaping a driveway. If the blistering heat of a July day does in their contents, simply change out the dead plants for new ones. Container gardens present their own tests, however. Driveway containers present some special requirements in addition to dealing with the heat that comes from living next to a paved surface. Design and plant your container garden with these constraints in mind.

Purchase containers that are large enough to be spotted over the hood or in the rear-view mirror of a car and find places to put them where they are visible. Make groups of containers rather than lining the drive; it looks more natural. Set containers or groupings back from the edge of the pavement at least 8 inches for visibility and to avoid overheating one side of the pot.

Drill drainage holes if the pots are solid and line the bottom of the pots with clay shards or stones to hold back the soil. Set the containers on bricks or blocks to allow air circulation between the container and the hot surface and line the containers with whole sphagnum moss to retain moisture and allow air circulation as in a hanging pot.

Fill the containers with a good potting soil that drains easily. When you water the pot, water should drain out the bottom, never pool on the soil surface. Use a commercial potting mix or make your own with 1 part each coarse sand and perlite added to 4 parts well-rotted compost.

Place containers or groups at walk and driveway corners, staggered along the sides of a long driveway or around the inside of the curve on a winding or circular drive. Plant them in place along the driveway. Avoid planting tall plants that might obstruct a driver's line of sight.

Use sun-loving plants such as canna lilies, salvia, scented geraniums, thyme or lavender for hot, sunny areas. Plant marigolds or chrysanthemums to brighten a wooded drive. Line a drive with groups of potted Stella D’Oro daylilies or salvia. Use shrubs such as dwarf boxwood, forsythia, Japanese holly, arborvitae or weigela. Employ dwarf grasses like panicum “Shenandoah” and fescue “Elijah Blue” as centerpieces for shorter plants. Dwarf shrubs and grasses add height to container gardens; balance their height by adding trailing geraniums, purple sage, vinca or lobelia to fill the container.

Pinch blooms to allow the plants get over the stress of transplanting more easily and water well. Water container plants each morning and check them mid-afternoon to be sure that they aren’t drying out. Keep all of the plants evenly moist for the first week until they perk up and resume blooming.


If you are purchasing new containers, consider self-watering containers to minimize the number of times a day you’ll have trek out to water them. You can also find self-watering conversion kits to put in existing pots.

Double-pot plants if your driveway is too hot and sunny or too shady to sustain plants. Pot a few more fillers than you need and rotate plants so they don’t have to spend more than a week in stressful conditions.


Avoid plants with small flowers or fine detail. The driveway is a place for flamboyant form and showy colors.

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