Which Pot is Best for Your Plants?

Container gardens are easy and convenient for those who live in small spaces and for gardeners on the go. Though, they can be utilized in other ways. Potted plants are an excellent alternative in areas where the soil is poor and they add color and charm to any deck, patio, or entryway.

Another great thing about pots is that they come in various shapes, sizes, styles, and materials. This makes it easy for you to choose a type of pot to match the style and architecture of your home. But, before you make a purchase, you will need to consider the following: Material and projected plant size at maturity.

Before planting, make sure that your chosen pot will provide enough room for your plant’s roots to grow freely without inhibiting its growth. Large, rounded pots are ideal for shrubs and small ornamental trees, while small, mug-sized pots are optimal for succulents. It’s actually quite possible to plant an ornamental tree in a pot, but do keep in mind that pots – even large ones — are best suited to plants that have shallow roots.

Make sure that your pot has drainage holes before installing the soil and plant. If not, drill a couple of holes into the bottom.

Another thing to consider when shopping for pots is material. This can be based on your style preferences and budget, but not all material is created the same. Some materials are more durable than others, while others require more maintenance.

Here is a list of the most common materials as well as their benefits and disadvantages.

Terracotta

Photo by Zenyrgarden, Wiki Commons

Terracotta pots come in all shapes and sizes and are available in a vast array of colors, which makes it easy to match the color scheme and architecture of your home. They are also relatively inexpensive.

Glazed terracotta pots are more porous and allow for more air to pass through to plant roots, but they also tend to absorb moisture from the soil. This means that you will have to water much more frequently, especially throughout the summer months. They are also prone to frost damage, so if you choose terracotta pots for your plants, you will need to have the space available in your home, shed or greenhouse – if you have one – where you can overwinter your plants. Another option if terracotta is your preferred choice of pots: Plant an array of annuals for vibrance and color.

Wood And Baskets

Photo by Andy, Wiki Commons

Wood is a fantastic choice because of its natural look, especially if you’re going for a cottage-themed style for your garden. Wood is also porous, frost-proof, and it acts as a good insulator for plant roots.

When looking for wooden pots, check the label to make sure that the timber comes from a sustainable forest. A label carrying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo indicates that the timber was sustainably, ethically, and legally logged. If in doubt, ask your local garden center clerk.

The only drawback to wooden pots and baskets is that wood decays quickly. In order to prolong its life, it must be painted or treated with a preservative. The residue from a paint or other preservative can leach into the soil which is toxic for plants. To prevent this from happening, you can line the inside of your wooden pot or basket with plastic.

Metal

Photo by Potterybarn.com

Metal is a popular choice for how versatile and inexpensive it is. It comes in a vast variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You can opt for a rustic utilitarian-style pot for a cottage-themed garden, or a galvanized and/or powder-coated metal container if the minimalist urban-themed garden is your preferred style.

Metal containers do have drawbacks though. Thin metal containers offer plant roots no insulation which makes them vulnerable to overheating and frost damage. Galvanized and powder-coated metal will rust if not taken care of properly and that rust can leach into the soil. Even steel will corrode over time and leave rusty stains on lightly colored surfaces.

If you prefer metal containers, make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight during the spring and summer months, and stored in a cool, dry place where your plants are shielded from frost and your pots are protected from the elements. You can also line your metal containers with plastic in order to prevent corrosion from moist soil.

Stone And Concrete

Photo by Acabashi, Wiki Commons

Stone and concrete are optimal choices for plants because of how durable they are. They are strong, frost-proof, and insulating for plant roots. They are also versatile when it comes to style and will compliment any type of garden.

The only drawbacks to stone and concrete are that they are expensive and they are extremely heavy. For the latter, you will need to make double sure your stone or concrete pot is placed in the right area – for your plants and according to your chosen design – before installing soil and plants.

If you have the budget for stone or concrete pots, they are well worth it because they will last you for years. This may actually help save you money in the long run.

Synthetics

Photo by Charlton Home

Synthetic materials are made up of the following: Plastic, polymer, fiberglass, and resins. Pots made from any of these materials come in the widest range of colors, and can be used creatively to compliment and enhance every interior and exterior style.

Synthetic pots are also extremely durable; they are hard to break, frost-proof, and inexpensive. These types of pots are most convenient if you have pets and children. In any case, they are well worth the investment.

A Takeaway

Potted plants are convenient and easy to care for. Both plants and pots add color, vibrance, character, and charm to every outdoor space.

Before you make any decision on which type of pots to buy, familiarize yourself with the different types of pots and how to properly care for them. Pots are just as much an investment as are plants, but the right pots for your plants are well worth it.

Sources Used

Dunford, Chauney, Becky Shackleton, and Zia Allaway, editors. How to Grow Practically

Everything: 100s of Gardening Projects Absolutely Anyone Can Do. London; New York;

 Munich; Melbourne; Delhi; Jonathan Metcalf, 2010.

The Disadvantages of Landscape Fabric

Though, there are 3 ways you can use it to your advantage.

If you are a homeowner, you most likely prefer landscape fabric as an alternative means to suppress weeds. That’s because landscape fabric is non-toxic and it acts as a blanket that suffocates weed seedlings, which kills them before they have a chance to sprout. Landscape fabric “is constructed from woven fibers or manufactured as a solid sheet with perforated holes to allow water to soak through. Some brands offer UV protection to maintain the life of the fabric,” (Glenda Taylor and Bob Villa on bobvilla.com).

Landscape fabric is 3-feet-wide and comes in rolls of anywhere between 50 and 200 feet in length. The cost also varies depending on thickness and length of the fabric – the thicker the fabric, the more able it is to suppress those pesky weeds.

On the surface it appears that landscape fabric does the job in keeping the weeds at bay and it certainly does have a couple of benefits.

1. Landscape fabric smothers weed seeds

Weed seeds need light and air to grow but landscape fabric blocks out the sun rays from filtering into the soil, thus smothering weed seeds.

2. Prevents erosion from winds and heavy rains

This is especially true for slopes. Landscape fabric on slopes protects the surface soil from washing away with running water.

But, as much as we’d like to view it as a miracle product, landscape fabric has more disadvantages that outweigh its benefits.

1. It doesn’t just kill off weed seeds

Weed seeds aren’t the only seeds that landscape fabric smothers. Seeds from beneficial plants, carried by birds and wind, and dropped into the soil that has now been covered by fabric, are also smothered as they, too need light and air in order to grow.

Landscape fabric also smothers earthworms and other important micro-organisms that are needed in order for our plants to thrive. Earth worms aerate the soil. They also need air in order to survive; air that they can only receive at the soil surface. Landscape fabric prevents them from doing this.

2. Prevents moisture from penetrating the soil

While landscape fabric prevents evaporation of moisture from soil, the perforated holes in the fabric aren’t large enough to allow a sufficient amount of moisture to penetrate the soil. Over time, the covered soil becomes dry and compact.

3. Landscape fabric heats up the soil

Since landscape fabric is black, it absorbs the heat from the sun’s rays. So, not only does it dry out the soil, it heats it up. This is bad for the oxygen-thriving micro-organisms that need a certain temperature range and moist conditions in order to thrive and carry nutrients to our plants that depend on them to grow.

4. It acts as a barrier to mulch and other organic matter

Mulch and other organic matter, like twigs, needles, and leaves that fall from trees, breaks down over time, adding more nutrients to the soil. Landscape fabric acts as a barrier to this natural organic matter.

5. It doesn’t kill off all weed seeds which makes it even more labor-intensive

Even the thickest of fabric won’t keep a good weed down for long. The hardiest of weed seeds will still manage to germinate and penetrate the fabric. This makes it extremely tedious, labor-intensive, and time consuming when it comes to weeding a garden bed that is covered in landscape fabric. That’s because the landscape fabric prevents you from being able to remove the weeds by their roots.

In order to effectively and permanently remove weeds from your garden bed, you will first have to remove the fabric and that will also entail removing all of the mulch or gravel you’ve decided to lay over the fabric.

Given the above-mentioned disadvantages, landscape fabric is not recommended for garden beds.

So, can you use landscape fabric at all?

The good news for all you homeowners and gardeners who love landscape fabric; there are 3 ways you can use it to your garden’s advantage.

If you live in a windy area, or high above a steep hill, then your garden will benefit from the use of landscape fabric because it will prevent erosion.

If you want a desert garden complete with crushed gravel, sand, or a combination of both, then you will need to lay a thick landscape fabric over the area where you don’t plan on installing plants. After laying and securing the fabric, add a 2-4-inch thick layer of washed crushed gravel on top of the landscape fabric, then tamp it down firmly. The tamping compacts the gravel so that very little to no air filters through. This deprives weed seeds the oxygen they need in order to grow. And when they eventually do, it won’t take you hours of backbreaking work to remove them because they won’t be plentiful.

You can also use landscape fabric over a fallow garden bed just for the purpose of killing weed seeds. If you’re building a garden bed in summer or in early fall, instead of planting right away, remove all weeds from the new garden bed, cover it with a thick landscape fabric – some gardeners use carpet or black plastic – and secure it firmly with pegs so that it doesn’t blow away in the event of strong winds, and leave it until the following spring.

After the threat of frost, remove the landscape fabric and then till the soil while adding in plenty of organic matter within the top 6-12 inches. Remove any and all surviving weed seeds. Finally, plant your selected plants and then add a 2–3-inch layer of mulch on top of the soil.

A Takeaway

While landscape fabric does have its disadvantages, it does come in handy for some situations. It all depends on where you live and what you plan on using it for.

Sources Used:

Taylor, Glenda and Bob Villa. “All You Need to Know About Landscape Fabric”, bobvilla.com, 25 October 2021 https://www.bobvilla.com/articles/landscape-fabric/

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑