Do It Yourself: Container Gardening

Landscape designer Courtney Olander shares her tips on container gardening at home.

1. Choose a container


Containers come in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Taller options will be seen from farther away, creating a “destination point” in the yard, Olander said. Clusters of various-sized vessels lend a collected feel. Olander considers the home’s existing architecture in her selection, as she likes for the container design to mesh with the style of the home.

2. Start with a foundation plant, then add texture


“Having a good foundation of foliage is important,” Olander said. “Don’t only think about the flowers.” She likes to structure a container’s plantings around a strong base, such as an evergreen or a bold-leafed specimen, then weave in plants with contrasting textures or eye-catching blooms for a layered effect.

3. Pare down color


For a cohesive look, Olander minimizes the colors she incorporates. To do so, she works off the color wheel, often combining plants with either analogous or complementary colors. “I like to simplify it one way or the other, keeping the palette to a minimum,” she said. She also thinks about “color echoes.” For instance, “If there’s a burgundy vein in a leaf, I’m going to try to pick up on that burgundy with the flowers,” she said.

4. Don’t forget fragrance


Herbs such as lavender and rosemary make excellent candidates, as does the evergreen Star Jasmine and the chocolate cosmos that Olander planted in the Smith and Holder yard. (The latter has a chocolate scent!)

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