Tips for Successful Container Gardening

Get these great tips for improving the life and character of your balcony or rooftop container garden.

Credit: Stuart McCall

Quenching their thirst

• Supplement your soil with compost, and mulch at least yearly. This will help retain moisture.
• Use a natural soil-moistening supplement like SoilSponge to increase length of time between waterings.
• If your container garden is large, consider an automatic watering system.

Keeping them happy

• When planting, supplement with compost and mix some slow-release organic fertilizer into your soil.
• Annuals enjoy a weekly application of 15-30-15, while perennials, shrubs and trees benefit from a half-strength solution every two weeks.

Protecting yourself

• Sit containers on feet. Ceramic or plastic risers protect your deck from staining and also improve drainage.
• Consult with an engineer to ensure your balcony or rooftop can handle the weight of containers, soil (when wet), plants, furniture and people.
• Avoid heavy concrete or cast-iron planters and use attractive plastic or resin ones instead. Many of the new designs, with their realistic pitting and colouring, can’t be differentiated from ceramic or terra cotta until touched.
• Fill the bottom of containers with chips of packing foam or small plastic nursery pots. This will both reduce weight and improve drainage. (If using nursery pots, top with a layer of landscape fabric or the soil will eventually settle into those larger spaces and cause the soil above to shift.)