How to Plan Your Container Garden

At the moment, everyone in the gardening world seems to be talking about planning your garden for Spring. But sometimes gardening can be overwhelming. It’s great that there are so many choices out there, but that also means that it requires more work to pick a pots, plants, dirt, fertilizer, etc. Below I’ve tried to put together some ideas and resources that will help you start to plan your balcony garden without giving yourself a headache in the process.


One thing that you can start working on right away is deciding what to plant your garden in. Do you already have pots from last you that you want to reuse? Great! Make sure they’re clean and ready to go. While you’re at it, take a second to measure the pots and write down their height and diameter.

If you already have pots, but for whatever reason you don’t like them, consider painting them. If the posts are mismatched, painting them all the same color would really help unify them. Or, you might consider a number of color schemes.

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

One way to help yourself sort through all the options when you get to the garden center is to have a rough list of plants you want to buy before you arrive. To do this, I don’t think you need to go nuts creating an architectural drawing of your dream garden, but spending a few minutes measuring your space (including the height if your balcony or patio has a roof) and sketching out pot placement is definitely worth it.

Once you have a rough idea of where you want to place your containers, you can start thinking about what kind of plants you want to put in your pots. In my experience/opinion the easiest and best looking way to do things is to have a combination of multi-plant pots and single-plant pots. In the pots that you plan to make into multi-plant pots, I suggest using three plants: one thriller, one spiller, and one filler.

Of course, take note of how many perennials you already have and the seeds you’ve started indoors. Give a few seconds thought to how they fit into your plan. Will they be fillers in one of your multi-plant pots or a singleton in a pot all their own? Don’t forget the edible plants you want to grow. Just because your garden will include such plants doesn’t mean that it has to look utilitarian. I still employ the thriller, spiller, filler method for my edible planters.

Take Your Time

Your garden center isn’t likely to have anything worth buying for a couple of more months. Enjoy this time! Look through magazines, blogs, and catalogues for ideas. If you give yourself enough time to plan, you won’t feel rushed, and you might even enjoy the process.

To get you started, I thought I’d point you in the direction of these Fine Gardening magazine articles I’ve found particularly helpful:

Make a List of What You Need

If you do the above, you should be able to make a list of the number and type of thrillers, spillers, fillers, and single plants you’ll need. Having a rough plan of attack when you enter the garden center is, from my experience, approximately 25,839,205 times easier than walking through the rows of plants and trying to decide what to buy on the spot. Not to mention that I bet you’ll end up spending less because you’ll only buy the plants you need.

Good luck and stay tuned for more container gardening advice and ideas!

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