How To Use Pots In Your Garden

How To Use Pots In Your Garden

You can use pots in gardens of any size, but they are particularly useful in smaller gardens, where a well-selected planter or two is a sure-fire way to transform a small space.

There are endless sizes and shapes – from a small herb trough on a window ledge or a hand-thrown ceramic hanging planter, to a monster pot two metres in diameter. You can basically grow plants in anything that holds potting mix and has a drainage hole – it’s just a matter of finding the right planter that works in your space.

This extract from Richard Unsworth’s book Garden Life explains how to utilise pots in your garden.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Choose functional pots for the framework, and contrast with a hero piece which will act as a focal point
  • Use a pot that is size-appropriate for your space (see pages 44–45 on scale) – generally speaking, the bigger the better
  • Spend your money in visible areas, and use a less expen- sive option if the planter is concealed, for example in a service area
  • Use clusters of small pots planted with interesting plants to make a collector’s table
  • Remember to allow enough room in the pot for the plant to grow for a few years. So, if your plant comes in a plastic pot 30 centimetres in diameter, ideally choose a pot of at least 50 centimetres in diameter
  • The main thing is to select a piece that resonates with you, one that you love.

There are a few things to remember when planting in pots. First, pots dry out more quickly than gardens, so ensure really thirsty plants such as bamboos and ferns, for example, are given special attention. Next, raise the pot off the ground with high-density rubber to allow for drainage and for air to circulate. Finally, use the best-quality Premium potting mix, which meets the Australian Standard – you get what you pay for, as it has better drainage, controlled release fertiliser and water-saving crystals.


The three tall white cylinder planters on page 125 are some of my favourites. Sleek and very cool, they provide the perfect frame for the MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TONGUE (Sansevieria). I also love the classic, graceful lines of the Indian hand-carved tulip planter massed with bromeliads at the townhouse in Darling Point (see the photograph on page 123).
At Bellevue Hill the clean lines of the contemporary char- coal bowls sit perfectly in a formal setting whether they add drama up the driveway, nestling by the pool or sitting on top of the barbecue (see the photograph on page 35).

I always love seeing the mad yellow pineapple planter when I visit Byron View Farm, it’s perfect coupled with the PONYTAIL PALM (Beaucarnea recurvata) and just looks after itself.


This recycled rubber pot used to be a car tyre. Massed with bromeliads.


I love this mad vintage pineapple planter with its ponytail palm at Byron View Farm.


The slick lines of this contemporary vase make a striking home for this dragon tree.


This series of cylinders shows how well repetition works in a confined space.


Planters hand-knitted with marine-grade rope.


The simple lines of an antique Turkish planter frame this fiddle-leaf fig perfectly.


These copper vases are handmade locally from offcuts of copper pipes.


Simple, lightweight, narrow troughs add great structure and clean lines.

Extract from the book Garden Life by Richard Unsworth, with photography by Nicholas Watt and Richard Unsworth, published by Lantern rrp $49.99. 

Do you use pots in your garden? Tell us below…

Written by TheCarousel

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