During a drought, the soil in your lawn can get dried out and your landscaping may suffer. One way to beat the heat is to start a container garden. Container gardens are easier to manage than a garden bed in your lawn.

To build a successful container garden follow these steps.

First, pick what kind of container you want to use for your container garden. Popular choices include terracotta, glazed ceramics, metal, wood or even a basket. Terracotta is the most traditional and most popular choice for a container garden.

Nancy Clifton, who specializes in container gardens, works at the Chicago Botanic Garden as a horticulturist. For your container garden she recommends picking a pot with good drainage at the bottom.

“That’s really important because most of your plants are going to require a nicely drained soil,” Clifton says.

The soil for your container garden shouldn’t come right out of the ground. Go to your local garden supply center and buy pre-mixed potting soil for your container garden. The formula in the bag is made especially for container gardens. These soils include materials like perlite to help with drainage in the container garden.

When selecting plants for your container garden, think about light. Different plants need different amounts of light, so consider where your container garden will be. Think about color combinations and look for a healthy plant with lots of buds and future blooms for your container garden.

Clifton recommends using a variety of plants in your container garden. “There’s a formula that we use in container gardening called the ‘thriller, filler and spiller.’ That’s kind of a fun little term for maybe a thriller, a plant that’s upright, maybe a filler like this English daisy that’s nice and full, and then maybe something that’s cascading like our ivy as kind of our spiller.”

Also, think about changing your container garden with the seasons. Different container garden plants thrive at different times of year. For a great looking container garden all year long, try to pick plants according to the seasons.

Published: Jul 28, 2008