Pretty Up with Planters – My first try at container gardening

Do you have a piece of yard that is more like cement than soil? Petrified clay, perhaps? Or maybe you rent and don’t want to dig into the land as though it were your own? Planter or container gardening might be just the thing for you!

In front of my house, there is a triangular patch of ground that lies between my fence and the parking area, and it’s divided nearly in half by a paver path to my gate. At the wide end, there is a bit of grass, a good amount of moss, and a rotting stump. At the narrow end there is a large sweetgum tree, complete with giant roots protruding from the ground rendering the soil impenetrable.

Left = Moss
Right = Sweetgum

So, we have the Moss side and the Sweetgum side. These are not teams and it is not a competition folks, but I do love a label.

Today we’re dealing with the Sweetgum side, with the giant roots and hard-as-cement clay. Two very good reasons to opt for container gardening. Even so, I thought I would bury a galvanized tub-turned-planter about six inches into the ground. Ha! I worked for two and a half hours with a shovel, digging fork, and hand saw before conceding defeat. The tub is submerged about an inch into the ground.

To save myself any more aches and pains, I decided to use containers entirely on the Sweetgum side. Because of the tree and fence, this is a shaded, low-light area. I have been counseled by professionals to plant what will grow in the conditions my space provides. Of course I gravitate toward all the things that need full sun, but I’m playing it safe here and bought low-light plants!

Before we get to the planting of the plants, let’s talk about the edging of the edge. This no-dig edging is the best thing since sliced bread! I know, not such a big deal since everyone is gluten-free now, but you know what I mean. I’d been fretting about putting a border in when I knew digging would be nearly impossible. Thank GAWD I stumbled upon this at Home Depot. It really is as simple as the box indicates. I rolled out the length I needed, cut it with a hand saw, and hammered in the plastic spikes (included) to secure it in place.

Edging product and mulch

Once the edging was done, I spread three bags of mulch and raked that until it covered the area evenly, and then came the fun part: decorating planting the space! I haven’t gardened in decades, and am finding it is a lot like decorating. There are as many plants to choose from as there are accent chairs, and as many garden statues as there are lamps. It’s a whole new world to style!

Pre-border, with border, and with mulch. It’s coming along nicely!

You know I love to keep things on a budget, so I used some of what I had (the previous owner left some containers in the shed) and I purchased some new items from At Home and Lowe’s. The plants came from my yard (existing hostas needed to be relocated) and Lowe’s.

An existing plant I brought out front in a gorgeous shimmery planter from At Home along with a sweet bunny garden statue from Lowe’s.
Blue Jute Glass Ball from At Home adds sparkle.


These plants should do well in low light. The two hostas were inherited with the home, and I purchased the caladium at Lowe’s.

I made sure each container had bottom drainage. The galvanized bucket did not, so I drilled holes in the bottom with a 1/2″ bit. You can get away with no drainage indoors because you control the amount of watering, but outside is another story. Here in North Carolina, it doesn’t rain. It pours. No drainage = a swamped plant.

Cute little container garden is quite an upgrade from…nothing!
Container gardening can bring beauty while giving you the option of arranging and rearranging however you choose.

The bonus of container gardening is that I can rearrange this space as often as I want…er, as often as my back will allow. I have the feeling that even though I should be able to plant directly in the ground on the Moss side, I’ll still want to have a couple of planters over there as well.

I’ll bet these teams make some mid-season trades.


Shopping List:
Jute Blue Glass Ball
Vigoro No Dig Edging
Bunny Garden Statue
12″ Clay Milano Planter (Clay is the color, not the material)