The South West London Gardener

What is Container Gardening?

container gardening

Imagine growing a lush garden on a small apartment balcony, a sunny windowsill, or even a compact backyard.

That’s the magic of container gardening – a method that is rapidly gaining popularity among urban dwellers and those with limited gardening space.

Here at The Southwest London Gardener, this is something we see a lot as we visit London gardens that need to be flexible yet still packed with nature and wildlife.

Container gardening comes packed with benefits, and in this blog, we’re going to shed some light on why this is a great method of adding plants and flowers to a project.

Let’s take a look.

Understanding Container Gardening

Let’s start with a quick overview of just what we mean when we say container gardening.

Simply put, it is exactly what it says on the tin, which is growing plants in containers instead of planting them in the ground.

This method uses various types of pots, planters, and even upcycled items (this is ideal for creating sustainable spaces) to cultivate everything from flowers and herbs to fruits and vegetables.

The options for what containers to use are nearly endless – classic terracotta pots, modern plastic containers, wooden boxes, hanging baskets, and creative recycled materials like old boots or barrels. Each type offers unique benefits and aesthetic appeal and can provide huge changes on a small budget.

These containers can be fixed in place or portable, which is what makes this such a versatile and exciting way of adding some colour and natural life to an outside space.

plants in pots

The Benefits of Container Gardening

Space Flexibility

One of the biggest draws of container gardening is its suitability for small spaces.

Balconies, patios, windowsills, or even indoor areas can become green havens. It also means that if you have smaller areas of your garden, such as seating zones which may just need a little something to add to the design, you can place something in to add a splash of colour.

This flexibility also relates to the plants in the containers, and it is a great way of mixing colours together to create exciting combinations.

Control over Growing Conditions

Containers allow you to control the soil quality, moisture levels, and sunlight exposure more precisely than in-ground gardening.

Let’s say you have a garden which only gets the sun in certain places, this means that you can place the plants most needy in the direct sunlight, and even interchange throughout the day.

When the weather gets colder, or if you’re expecting heavy rain or snow, you can even move your more delicate flowers under cover to ensure they stay healthy and don’t get harmed.

Ease of Maintenance

Managing a container garden is generally less labour-intensive. It’s easier to control weeds and adjust placements for optimal growth.

If you notice certain plants are not performing as well as expected, they can be easily experimented with in different positions.

If the containers aren’t too heavy, you can also lift them up onto a workbench or table where you can maintain them without having to bend down for long periods of time.

Versatility and Creativity

Container gardening allows for immense creativity in both the choice of containers and plant combinations, making each garden uniquely personal.

You can opt for different themes and add splashes of colour to your garden in lots of different ways.

For example, an old pallet can make a great container, and when painted it can be just as bright as the flowers inside it.

You can choose a rustic container, or a modern, sleek one, whichever choice best fits your garden.

It also means you can constantly move your containers around, opting for the best combinations of colours and even setting up different decorations for social events or special occasions.

Getting Started with Container Gardening

If you’ve read the benefits above and think container gardening could be a good choice for your outside space, then here are three key elements to help you get started.

  • Choosing the Right Containers – Consider the material (clay, plastic, metal, or even natural wood), size, and drainage capabilities. Ensure the container is suitable for the plant’s root growth and fits into your garden ethos and design. As mentioned before, using a recycled option is a great choice here.
  • Selecting Plants – Choose plants based on their compatibility with container life. Consider the plant’s size at maturity, its light and water needs, and growth habits. You don’t want to have to constantly move plants as they grow, so try and pick the right container for the full life of the plant from the beginning.
  • Soil and Fertiliser – Opt for a high-quality potting mix and suitable natural fertilisers to ensure your plants thrive in their containers. Keep the soil nice and moist as you would any other plants in your garden.
wildlife lovers garden

Challenges and Solutions in Container Gardening

Watering Challenges

Containers often require more frequent watering than plants that are placed in the ground. Implement a consistent watering schedule and consider self-watering containers or drip irrigation systems for convenience if they’re available.

Dealing with Limited Space

Utilise vertical space with hanging baskets or tiered plant stands. This means that you won’t be taking up much ground space in your garden but can still have plenty of plants. Be creative in arranging containers to maximise your gardening area.

Pest and Disease Management

Regularly inspect for pests and diseases.

Just like with the watering schedule, try and form an inspection schedule which allows you to assess all of your plants at regular times so they are always in good health.

A smaller-scale of containers makes it easier to control outbreaks so if you are struggling think of lowering the number.

Container Gardening at The Southwest London Gardener

Our team regularly use container gardening throughout our projects to ensure we can fit lots of natural elements into an outside space.

Projects such as this Wimbledon Garden Transformation are great examples of how effective this can be. This was a big space, with the garden actually covering three sides of the house, and we added containers to spread some greenery throughout.

Container gardening is a flexible, creative, and rewarding way to garden, regardless of your space constraints. It opens up a world of gardening possibilities even in the smallest of spaces as you often find with London gardens.

If you want to know more or would love to discuss a project with our team, then get in touch with The Southwest London Gardener today. We are always happy to help.