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Pale pink Geraniums basking in the sunlight on a front stoop.

Featured Article

Container Gardening and Curb Appeal

Article by Amie Copeland Stark

Photography by Abby Cole Photography

Originally published in Fairfield Lifestyle

Nothing says welcome home more than a pair of beautiful containers flanking your front entrance. They add tremendous amounts of curb appeal to an entry of a home or business. Many of us in Fairfield are lucky enough to be graced with front porches. These spaces are perfect places to display planters. They bridge the gap between the outdoors and indoors. Dotted around the landscape, surrounding a pool or patio, they add focal points in these outdoor rooms. They are a way to enjoy small bits of nature through four seasons. Containers are miniature garden worlds meant to showcase special plants and flowers that otherwise may not be planted into garden beds.

The most anticipated season is Spring/Summer. In Fairfield, we are in planting zone 7A which means early to mid-May are when frost warnings are lifted and tender annuals, perennials and tropicals can safely survive outside. There are a vast range of flowering and foliage plants to choose from, making this season exciting and challenging. These require the most maintenance because they need to survive through the heat and humidity of our New England summers.

When choosing pots first consider the style and color of your home. Cube or rectangular shapes usually complement a modern home. Classic urns look best with colonial homes. There are many that can work with any style. Window boxes and hanging planters also add pops of color and architectural interest to different areas outside your home. Do not overlook wooden barrels or quirky pottery to plant into if you prefer a more eclectic style. You can let your imagination go wild. The container itself is literally the foundation for your planting. It sets the tone for the whole arrangement.

After your pots are bought and placed in the spots you want them in, it will then be time to hit the garden centers and shop. When choosing plants for a container the rule of thumb is to pick a thriller, filler, and spiller. Basically, what that means is choosing plants that are at varying heights. A taller plant is the thriller, the filler would be a shorter plant at mid- level and the spiller would ideally trail down the pot.  Rules are made to be broken so this is meant to be a general guide to help you create a visually exciting arrangement. 

If you are at a large garden center, I recommend laying out combinations of plants and playing around until you arrive at something you love. I often use the cart I am given when I enter for this task. My suppliers know me and leave me alone with my thoughts until I have completed the process. Other factors to consider are using plants with the same water and light needs in one pot.

I always aim for a layered and naturalistic look for my containers, filled with color and texture, reflecting the season they are being planted in. I do not limit myself to only flowering annuals. I like to include foliage plants, perennials and ground cover.

Since our summers are hot and humid, which takes a toll on us and our plants, try to include some low maintenance plants. Watering can be a daily chore in mid-summer, so if that is not something you want to commit yourself to, opt for succulents, lavender, or heather - all of which are low maintenance. If you enjoy tending to planters and the pots are at your front or back door, feel free to choose plants with greater maintenance requirements. These include, geraniums, petunias and dahlias.

Summer containers are an easy way to add color and style to any front entry or outdoor space. They offer statement curb appeal and can highlight special plants and flowers not typically found in your garden. As a designer, it is immensely satisfying to see the joy these containers bring to the life of my clients.    @miafloragardens

  • Two large and gorgeous urns grace the front of this beautiful local home.
  • Pink Hydrangeas are loving the shade of this covered porch in Southport.
  • Pale pink Geraniums basking in the sunlight on a front stoop.
  • Large pot with a dramatic planting scheme add curb appeal.
  • Diplodenia planted in vintage urns for an antique home.
  • Geraniums and cascading annual flowers.