With the inability to plant directly into the earth, planters and pots offer an alternative growing medium. In cases such as an upstairs patio or a small outdoor space, the use of decorative pots, combined with wood planters, allows for both functionality and décor. By choosing your plants carefully you will be able to create a long-lasting show of greenery and create needed elements such as screening unwanted views or softening a corner.
Plants for Screening
It is very common to use plants on the patio or deck for the intention of screening. Screening can be something as basic as hiding an unattractive waste receptacle or adding privacy from a too-close neighboring home.
In these instances, you will want to consider the needed screening, height and width, and then choose evergreen trees and shrubs appropriate to your local microclimate. I recommend doing a simple site survey to note factors such as: prevailing wind and sun exposure.
What to use? The use of evergreen trees can be especially useful if planted in large pots (over 20″ diameter) and planted closely to create a hedgerow effect. Shrubs with small leaves like boxwood or myrtle can be useful for creating low privacy screens: to maintain their height, a nicely sharpened pair of hedge clippers is useful.
An alternative to creating low shrub screening is to use plants like ornamental grasses. A particularly useful low growing Miscanthus ‘Adagio” growing to about 2.5 to 3 feet tall can be very attractive. However, this grass is not evergreen and will need to be cut back hard once a year (spring or fall) to re-grow fresh leaf blades.
Pots and Planters for Screening
The consideration here is pot size. If you are using rectangular planters to plant trees, make sure that your width is around 20 to 21 inches for adequate root development.
By planting a 15gallon tree in this, available at your local nursery, this width planter should fit well. You can also use round or square pots with rustic, glazed or terra cotta finish. Again, make sure that the pot diameter is at least as large as mentioned. For shrubs, I like to use a minimum of 18″ diameter and height around the same.