I Special to the Jewish News
othing brightens an entrance,
adds color to an otherwise
unremarkable corner or fin-
ishes a patio like beautifully planted
containers. These small gardens can
add color, texture, drama and seasonal
interest to the landscape. Get creative!
It's an empty palette, but before you
select your plants and the perfect con-
tainer, you need to get off to a good
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Soil — The Perfect Blend
The first important and often over-
looked step to create a successful
container garden is to use a good
potting soil. Choose a quality mix-
ture that provides a combination of
good drainage and aeration. Potting
soil is technically not soil at all. It is
comprised of components to aid drain-
age, organic nutrients and material
for water retention. Avoid top soil or
soil from the garden. It will become
compacted in pots and stunt plant
growth. How about reusing the soil
in last year's containers? Yes, but only
after replenishing depleted soil with
about 25 percent organic matter such
as compost or manure. Bagged soils
are pretty cost-effective because all the
guesswork has been taken out of it.
Professional blends have already been
charged with starter nutrients and are
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Choose The Right Planter
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Almost any vessel can be used as a
planter, as long as it has holes for
drainage. When choosing a pot,
remember that large containers hold
more soil and water and therefore will
dry out more slowly than small plant-
ers. So, if you can tend to your pots
only a couple of times a week, avoid
small terra-cotta pots that will need
watering up to twice a day in summer.
Design-wise, consider each container
for its size, shape and material. You
may want to have different sizes and
shapes in the same material for an
informal but harmonious arrange-
ment. Any selected pots should suit
your design. A set of rustic watering
garden, filled with
cans and metal
pots would work
well in a cottage
garden. A set
would be show
stoppers in a
and Curly Willow,
is a nice addition
to any porch or
Select plants that are compatible in
terms of light, water, growth and the
conditions in the chosen site. Don't
mix a shade- and water-lover with a
dry-and-sunny plant. On plant selec-
tion, be adventurous! Gardening with
containers allows you the opportunity
to experiment and take chances with
color combinations and plant choices.
Try large coleus or perennials for
texture and for various heights. Don't
be intimidated or shy. Combine vari-
ous colors, various textures, sizes and
Pay close attention to watering. For
containers in sunny, hot or windy
areas, watering twice a day may be
necessary. A plant that has outgrown
its pot will also need more frequent
watering. Consider using a water-
absorbing polymer. It will improve
moisture retention of the potting soil.
Nutrients and organic matter leach out
of a pot much faster than they do in
the ground, so use a slow-release fer-
tilizer to provide necessary nutrition
and eliminate regular feedings. Drip
irrigation systems are best.
Container gardening is a really great
way to get your "green on:' The choices
are infinite and you can be as vivid,
elegant, whimsical, (fill in the blank
with a favorite adjective) as you like.
Just follow the basic rules of care and
feeding and start planting! Smiles are a
guaranteed side effect.
Glen Goldberg is the founder and presi-
dent of Four Seasons Garden Center
& Landscape Services in Oak Park,
Birmingham and Traverse City.