Emily Winters: Assembling Lush Outdoor Planters

A lush, luxurious garden is a dream, but as I sit on the deck on warm evenings, I know that it’s going to be years and years before I have the gardens that I’m envisioning in my mind. As a more immediate solution to backyard appeal, I dove into assembling a trio of outdoor planters to complement the deck on the back of the house.

Finished planter gardens.

You can do this for yourself easily too! Keep on reading to see how I customized the planters to accent my deck all summer long.

The planters themselves were inexpensive finds at our local Marshall’s; I always find that there are plenty of glazed ceramic options in stock this time of year, but rarely do I find outdoor planters with a matte textured cement finish at the highly discounted price point of these models, which is why I decided to buy my first ever deck planters for a total of $55. Oh, and the blue one with floral detailing came home with me for good measure; priced at just $15, I couldn’t say no to such a tempting pop of color. So, a total splurge of $70.

New planters for the deck!

The only issue with these planters is that they didn’t come with built-in drainage, so I had to improvise by buying plastic planter inserts with built-in saucers for another $15 (a small price to pay for a healthier, well-drained potted arrangement). Note: While the pots will provide for a lot of drainage, we’ll also have to keep an eye on each planter retaining water after rainstorms.

Planters and their planters. Necessary for proper drainage.

Two of the three plastic pots had a lip around the edge which inconveniently made them too large to slide into the pots, but with a sharp utility knife, those edges are easy to remove and allow the pots to sit hidden within the cement and ceramic planters.

Cutting excess lip off of the planter liner.

With the addition of simple potting soil, I was ready to buy up some new plants.

Soil in the planters.

I’ve spent the last month or so doing research on what great plants to invest in for making a lush, overflowing potted garden, but most of those learnings flew out of my left ear as soon as I walked into the lavish nursery. I’m pretty easily overwhelmed when it comes to picking plants since it requires understanding what plants will work well in soil together, the lighting requirements, and the design and aesthetic decisions. My only real plan was to get a few options with yellow blossoms to coordinate with my new outdoor umbrella. So fancy. Shopping for plants quickly becomes more complicated than deciding to sprinkle simple zinnias and marigolds, since real plants have real price tags, and with a decided budget between $50-60 to get something a little more lush than a seedling, there was definite nervousness involved in my decision making.

Planting overload.

I did decided to spend more of my budget on perennials than annuals, with hopes that they’ll flourish in pots during the summer and can be transplanted into the real garden during the fall, giving me both immediate happiness for the coming months, and long-term enjoyment for years to come. My thumb isn’t the greenest, but I’m hoping for the best.

I brought home:

Plant selection.

As I mentioned in reference to the Pansies above, I certainly did purchase way too many; I guess plant overload at the nursery will do that to you. Fortunately, I was able to fit most of my loot in the pots and planned to put the balance of the plants (90% of the pansies and the Bellis) directly into the yard.

With the plants that would fit, I organized the pots to determine how the colors and aesthetics of each plant would work together.

Test run on planter layout.

Happy with the layout, I potted each plant directly into the moist soil, loosening the roots and doing my best not to overcrowd. As they grow and develop, pruning will be expected, but I expect they’ll stay similar in proportion to what you see now.

Finished planter gardens.

Finished garden planters.

Finished garden planters.

Anyone else tackling backyard garden planters this spring?

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

14 Responses

  1. Education is the tool which makes our life easier and peaceful. It’s education which teaches us to live in society with dignity and respect. It opens the door of world of knowledge to us.

  2. [...] the height of the walls of the pot. I had to do this same thing with the dining room planter and outdoor planters this spring, so I already knew that hacking it down with a utility knife was a fair option to [...]

  3. Ruth says:

    Great tips, but in the desert, I suggest going with lantana, vinca and or portaluca. They will endure the summer heat and still look lush.

  4. rickey says:

    I am loving this tips

  5. [...] the garden and the beach. I dismissed every old wives tale and most rational landscapers when I prepared the flowery, overflowing potted plants on my deck prior to May 1st. In nothing short of rebellion, [...]

  6. Patti says:

    I also have use many things to plant flowers or herbs…. An old dresser drawer made a great herb garden…..My favorite plants are coleus, which I put a large assortment of them in a large pot on the front porch every year, it turns out huge and beautiful. I also used an old vintage desk to display potted plants. Use your imagination and it is amazing what you can create…..

  7. pully says:

    I buy all my pots and planter boxes at garage sales or clearance sales. I have used an old washroom sink without the legs. Single and double. I have used a lot of recycled items. old aluminum pots and teapots, farm supplies, tile from tiling projects – painted. Look around. Large gourds with the top off. I have two gold bunt pans that are hung up in 2 layers, using drilled holes to receive chain, and then hung from a patio hanger. Please recycle when you can.

    • emily says:

      Great tip! I'll be keeping an eye out for good finds; most of my planters are clay and have been handed down from family members, but finding nice big ones is hard (and pricy, to boot). Thanks pully!

  8. Kate says:

    So pretty! I'm planning to buy flowers for my planters this weekend or next, and I can't wait. I love the way colorful flowers transform outdoor spaces.

    • emily says:

      Totally easy too, Kate! Brings such a nice energy to the deck when the rest of the yard is still so ho-hum.

  9. Ken says:

    Looks cool

  10. cindy says:

    Definitely would make these!

  11. [...] via: Emily Winters: Assembling Lush Outdoor Planters Category: Home Tags: Assembling, Emily, LUSH, Outdoor, Planters, [...]

  12. [...] for the deck. Warning: They look fabulous. See the whole floral transformation for yourself on this week’s post on DIY [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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