Secret Gardens - Sydney Landscape Architects
Pots and Planters 5

Pots and Planters

Mar 07, 2017

Pots and planters

Choosing the right pots and planters is an integral step in creating your dream garden. Whether it’s a cluster on a balcony or used as sculptural objects in a larger garden scheme, pots are the outdoor equivalent of cushions, throws and artworks, the essential accents without which a garden is not complete. But getting the right mix of pots and planters – and plants to go in them – is both an art and science.

The look

Potted plants offer a great opportunity to have fun and do something a bit different. By changing around your potted plant scheme, you can give your garden a whole new flavour!

It’s important to take the surrounds – the larger garden scheme – into account when playing with pots. For example, if the garden beds are loose and freeform, keeping the potted plants contrastingly tight and clipped will make them stand out.

Most importantly, take guidance from your home’s architecture and interiors; if the interior décor is rich with art and artefacts, walking out to an austere garden is too jarring. It’s much better to match the garden to the character of your home – as a rough guide, if your house is modern, think clean lines in simple shades of matt black, white or grey; if more texture is called for, lean towards handmade terracotta.


For some reason, many people – including many horticulturalists! – aren’t very good at looking after plants in pots. This is a problem because any plant in a pot is going to be a focal point and therefore has to look good all the time.

There are a few common pitfalls. For lush potted greenery, you need excellent drainage and the best quality potting mix – don’t cheap out on substandard soil or your plants will suffer for it.

Even the most drought-tolerant plants can sometimes suffer from lack of irrigation; life gets busy and it’s easy to forget to water as much as you should. This is where getting to grips with your garden design early in the construction or renovation stages can be hugely beneficial, allowing you to build in irrigation lines and plan drainage points (so you don’t have dirty water dribbling out of pots and across your deck).

Choosing the right plants

A successful pot and planter scheme depends on pairing the right plants with the right vessels. With the maintenance issues of pots, toughness is a prerequisite of any plant you choose. A plant might grow well in your garden beds, but place it in a pot in full sun, or in a porous stone pot that sucks all the moisture out of the soil, and you’ll be fighting a losing battle. For the sake of your garden’s enduring visual appeal, you’re better off choosing a hardy plant that will look its best all the time, over a variety you love but that will always look a bit poorly. This might mean settling on something that’s not exactly to your taste – perhaps more spiky or strappy than your favourites – but remember, the surrounding foliage will balance it out.

For best success, step away from the gardenias – they’ll only break your heart. Instead, we love Zamias, Crassulas, Kalanchoes, Sansiveras and Agave victoria-reginae, all of which are seriously hardy and will add an element of sculptural beauty to your garden scheme.

Also see Landscaping in Sydney.

+612 9314 5333

17 Aylesbury Street
Botany NSW 2019

Secret Gardens © Copyright 2018

Landscaping in Sydney