Container design of the past was traditionally a painstaking endeavor to create perfect, identically manicured lawns and flower displays. The well-maintained lawns and gardens of mid-century suburbia were undeniably gorgeous – but so restricted that they lacked personality or flair.
Contemporary designs have favored container gardening that is much more versatile. This way you can have a trendy and personalized garden, but also the time to enjoy it. The garden has now become a space of creative self-expression, and container designs are the perfect opportunity to add a unique and personalized touch to your garden and home.
A couple of guidelines and tricks makes all the difference in creating beautiful, statement-making container gardens. Basic guidelines will help you to use design principles to ensure spectacular containers of any style with as much (or as little!) experimentation as you want.
Principles of Design, and Container Art
There are some basic principles typically used in visual art to create strong compositions. Interestingly, these same principles are useful in creating container designs. Think of your container as a living sculpture. When selecting your plants to place in a container, try considering things like color, texture, and shape. There are few definitive rules about how these principles should be used; they are better thought of as tools and can be used to create different effects.
Simple Rules (Thrillers, Spillers, and Fillers)
A favorite staple many garden designers swear by is the “thriller, filler spiller” method to pair different elements within containers. This rule keeps everything about color, texture, and shape open to your tastes, combining one of each varying style of plant will craft a container with a guaranteed aesthetic. In choosing your plants, select one plant for vertical architecture (thriller), one plant to fill the space (filler), and one to overspill out of the container (spiller).
Styling your Container
While the statement plant of your container is typically the focal point, don’t forget that the container itself is an important part of the overall look. Different containers can help compliment your style or even be the statement piece, while also providing the plants support like moisture or heat control that they need for their best growth.
Healthy plants naturally look the best, so remember to select plants that have similar care requirements. Super aggressive growers have a tendency to swallow up less aggressive growers, if they share a container. Additionally, pairing plants with similar moisture and sunlight needs will help to avoid making compromises.
If you have your heart set on some combinations that don’t work well, don’t worry! Some conflicts can be cheated. Plants with different needs can be planted in their own individual pot that is hidden in the container itself. It might look like the plants are all together, but it’s a smart way for you reap the benefits of better control.
But What Do You Want To Do With It?
Containers don’t have to be static, cookie-cutter displays. When you’re planning your container, take a moment to decide what you actually want from it: Do you want a striking modern statement piece? How about attracting more pollinators? Intoxicating fragrance? Maybe a corner of the backyard to relax at the end of the day? Or a trendy conversation starter?
Colors and textures have a massive effect. While contrasting colors and unexpected textures and shapes vibrantly draw attention for a modern look, a restricted color palette and soothing textures can help to calm the senses. Similarly, the type of plants you choose can be important, from inviting bees to your home, to experimenting with new trends like succulents or the newest varieties of your favorite flowers.
The best part of containers is the flexibility that they offer. No matter your wants, a few simple guidelines is enough to give you the freedom to have successful, healthy, and spectacular containers every year.