How-To Put Together Planters… or really, Planters for Dummies… and by Dummies

Late last fall I purchased two fantastic, large, blue planters from Southeastern Salvage… I am biased but I think they are great looking. To them I added cabbages, pansies, and creeping jenny then I let them be. They were great during the fall and winter and even better with some sunshine in early March, but I was in my yard last week and realized they had gone completely crazy and overgrown. I decided to take note of the April cover from Southern Living (also with blue planters!! Imagine my pride.) and set out to put together fresh spring planters for the front of our home.

Planters can be expensive, and I had no clue of that until last year (like who thinks about things like that?!). I don’t remember specifics but am almost positive I got both for just under $100. So I recommend going somewhere like Southeastern Salvage to find some. I love pairs and needed something to add volume to my front stoop so that’s what I went with, but one big, pretty planter would also be great to have.

Also these planters may be pretty huge, so I recommend getting a smaller, cheaper bucket or plastic pot of some sort, making sure their are holes in it and adding it to the inside of your planters. This way you do not have such a huge space to fill with topsoil and plants for that matter, it makes things more concentrated. Once you have your planters take note of their size and grab something that can fit inside at Home Depot, Walmart, or whatever because no one will see this part.      


Home Depot, like all other gardening centers, can completely overwhelm me. There is so much that I do not know and way too many options. But we can do it!

Before you decide what should go in your planters take note how much sun they will get. The front of my house gets a lot of sunshine, but yours may not and this is something you need to pay attention to before you head out to get your plants. Luckily as long as you know what type of sun your planters will get then you have got a great start! The gardening centers are usually broken up into sections of plants that need/can handle the same type of sunlight. So I knew once I figured out where the “full sun” plants were I would be in good shape.

Three important things that both my mom and mother-in-law have taught me is that you need one plant for height, at least one to fill out the planter, and one to drape over. I used a type of tall grass for height and placed in it the back of my planters (I bought two for each planter to try to save costs, but really I should have bought three for each.. I like plants in threes). To fill these out I used a pink geranium (one per planter) and two little sets of yellow lantana. For draping my very favorite thing to use is creeping jenny, it is almost a lime green and it really pops. I had some of this leftover and in decent shape from my planters in the fall so I only needed to add two little pots of it to each planter. When picking plants and looking for size, shape, sunlight, etc. be sure you are reading the little tags that are stuck down in the plants. They give tips and insight about what that specific little plant will need and since I am probably one of the furthest things from a plant expert I really need to read every word.

Again my mom and mother-in-law recommend Osmocote as a good, long lasting fertilizer so I added some of that while planting… can you tell I have asked for a lot of tips and recommendations while I have been getting used to this gardening bit! Thank goodness for my aunt who lives in Nashville and has taught me a great deal about local plants, soil, sunlight, etc.

When you are checking out of Home Depot/Lowe’s/Flower Mart/etc be sure you get a piece of plastic to put down in the back of your car. They will probably offer this but if not just ask because it will save you from a good bit of dirt and mess in the back of your car.

Once you are home and planting be sure you wear gardening gloves or you will probably mess up your manicure — Gel or not! I learned the hard way and my nails turned a crazy color.. a little scary but must have been something in the top soil. Eeek. You can get gardening gloves for like $4, so about 1/10th of the price of gel mani. Just wear gloves.

The last thing to keep in mind is that when you first plant your planters (surely that is not a correct way to say that) they will not look perfect or finished. I am bad about wanting instant gratification and with most gardening there is no such thing. I planted mine one week ago and blooms are already opening up and greenery is filling out.. all in all already looking better. Remember you are planting these for a full season so it will probably take some time to make them look just right.

The first time you put planters together will take some money and effort, but with each season it will be less and less. Once you have the main things: planters, top soil, fertilizer, inside bucket for planters – you will be able to use and re-use these. When I went to Home Depot to get the plants for this batch of planters I spent $50 and re-used all of what I had before. My mom has the same actual planters on our front porch and back deck that we have had for years and she changes out the plants seasonally.

Do you have any gardening tips and tricks that I need???? Would love to hear them!

I can’t believe I wrote a gardening post.. basically it should be titled Planters for Dummies and by Dummies. But the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy adding color and character to your home and yard!