Planters create a garden out of a paved terrace, a vegetable patch on a front porch or a landscaped walk along an urban sidewalk. Wooden planters are warm and natural and weather attractively when they are left out all year. Go with custom-designed planters to maximise use of a specific space. Use ready-made or recycled materials for quick planters you can assemble over a weekend.
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A drought-plagued front yard can become a neat, handy green grocer with custom-built boxes to hold vegetables and herbs. The boxes should be made of wood that will stand up to sun, rain and winter and can sit on a bed of small stones instead of a thirsty lawn. Planters need to be wide and deep enough for the types of plants they will hold -- lettuces and herbs don't need very big or deep plots so they are ideal if space is a consideration. A practical design for a few rows of wooden raised planters uses end boxes with lids for seating. Lift up the lid and the trowels, watering cans, gardening gloves and fertiliser are hidden out of sight.
Use old farm crates or wine boxes as planters to add character to a porch or balcony. The crates hold up well and come with an interesting patina of use. Sometimes you can find them for free, but they are also sold fairly cheaply at flea markets, especially in rural areas. Line the crates with heavy plastic or find plastic or galvanised inserts to fill with potting medium. If you set a gravel-filed tray in the bottom of the crate and provide drainage for the plant containers, you can avoid both a mess and soggy roots. Deep crates will hold large flowers or succulents, a crop of carrots or radishes or very bushy ornamental grasses that spill over the sides.
Barrels of Plants
Revitalise the neighbourhood with a line of streetside planters that hold annuals in spring, summer and fall and ornamental cabbages or dwarf evergreens in winter. Set wooden half barrels at measured intervals along the curb. Put a couple of concrete pavers under each barrel to provide drainage. Enlist the neighbours to set out their own planters and coordinate watering shifts. Tuck some edible plants in among the decorative flowers and harvest fresh basil for summer salads. Or design a colour pattern of just one or two flowers for a more formal sidewalk promenade.
Window Box Planter
Even if you're not too handy with tools, you can build a wooden planter from a redwood window box. Since the real work is building the box, the supports can be as ambitious or as simple as you can manage. Attach the window box to a wooden table painted to complement the redwood or the colours of the space where the planter will go. Or use redwood lumber to build braced legs and feet and attach them to the box. Once it's finished, plant the window box with a salad bar so you can pick lunch and dinner all summer. Use a line of planters as the border of a sunny terrace and grow a big, rabbit-proof vegetable garden -- but watch out for deer.
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