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Category Archives: Container gardening

Architectural Landscaping Containers

Landscape Pots
Architectural Pots at MANTS show 2017

Architectural Landscaping Containers add character and interest to patio landscaping projects, front entry landscapes  or as accents in landscape planting beds. I was recently at the Maryland Nursery and Landscape Trade Show in Baltimore Md. (MANTS) where each year I am excited by the many new and old options of architectural pottery and landscape containers. The manufacturers keep improving the technology for attractive, quality finishes.  I want them all for my landscape, but let’s be smart about this. Each type and style of landscape containers has a unique fit in the gardens.

Urn
Iron Urn at Mants 2017

One of the most classical Architectural Landscaping Containers is the metal urns as in the picture above. These fit especially well in more formal gardens with architectural plantings and classically designed patios. Iron fluted landscape containers are popular at either side of a front door in the front of house landscaping.  The extra large metal urn pictured above would sit well within the landscape plantings. The large scale makes a focal point statement int the gardens.

Landscape Pots
Rustic Architectural Pottery

For a less formal, more organic landscape, clay pottery may be an ideal fit. The architectural pottery shown above has lovely antique finishes that would accent a casual paver patio and backyard landscape project. Combine a few sizes in close proximity to develop more dynamic container gardens. The balance of three is especially pleasing aesthetically (small, medium and large). Not the longer, more trough type containers on the right. Combine those in an arrangement to create even more landscape interests.

Versialles Box
Zinc Versailles Box

The Versailles Box style container offers an especially substantial architectural interest for landscape spaces. These are commonly planted with larger specimen shrub or tree options. A ‘standard’ form of hydrangea tree would be an appropriate scaled specimen for these Versailles boxes.

Holiday Landscape Decorating

Late fall brings the end to the showy colors and rich foliage in most landscapes. But it is also a festive time of year with a couple major holidays running from late November until the New Year. Now is the time to empty the landscape containers and create winter landscape decorating. Mums and annual cabbages will carry the color through the Halloween season, but what to do for Thanksgiving and the December holidays? That is the time to empty your pots and urns of the summer plantings and replace them with fall-winter arrangements.

Start by taking out the old plants from your urns but leave the soil. Pick a couple or few central evergreen feature plant or deciduous twigs for the center and height of the pot. Cuttings from evergreen trees such as holly, spruce, pine, juniper or arborvitae work well. You can also use the bare branches of a red twig dogwood or the winterberry holly with its red berries. Trim the branch ends and insert them directly into the soil.

Next pick mid-level cuttings for the urn. Boxwood, cherry laurel and holly cutting with the red berries work well for the mid-level fillers and are easy to find. Blue color juniper can add a dynamic to the overall color scheme. Magnolia leaves and branches will add a varied texture. Think of these plants as the skirt that hides the bases and gives foundation to the central feature plants. Don’t be afraid to subtly add some fake fruit or ornament to this level.

Finally, the base level foliage can be added. You will want to look for something that hangs over the edges a bit and acts as the lower hem of the skirt. Low growing or weeping type junipers work well for this. If you have access to Russian Juniper (Microbiota) it makes a wonderful accent because the needles turn a beautiful bronze color. Ivy and Euonymus are long trailing plants that will hang low over the edges.

Winter Urns can be a fun and easy project for anyone. The required materials should be easy to find throughout the neighborhood. Finding and procuring them affords a good excuse to meet new neighbors during a holiday season.

Landscape Design Company

With a help of contrasting hardscape and lush vegetated greens, a brick home's facade can easily be softened.
With a help of contrasting hardscape and lush vegetated greens, a brick home’s facade can easily be softened.

Garden Design Inc. is a landscape design company that serves Coopersburg. Exploring deeper into the Lehigh Valley, there is evidence that the region has many historical architectural and landscape components. Touching on two smaller cities in the Lehigh Valley, Coopersburg and Hellertown, they are very similar is geographical make up; however, human population and existing development has left each city with its unique set of landscape design and construction opportunities.

With both cities covering less than three miles in area, Hellertown holds the higher population by almost double of Coopersburg. With that said, it is not surprising that Hellertown projects a tighter housing layout as a way to accommodate residents and business owners. While some may believe that the general lack of landscape eliminates the profession of landscape architecture, this statement is proven wrong. It is true that some elements of design may become restricted in urban design, other opportunities such as vegetation selection and hardscape design allow the design to explore.

Planting design is key in this type of urban residential landscape design, and utilizing shrubs that can withstand an urban environment is always a great way to start. Hydrangeas and rhododendron  as well as a wide range of perennials provide just enough pop of color in these cities that it catches the eyes of passersby, but it also does not provide so much that it looks out of place. Add some mulching to create a uniform groundcover that stands out from the grass and the hardscape.

Coopersburg and Hellertown developed fairly early, so there is little room for new construction and landscape design. With this said, residences were typically built much smaller back then. Since then, material choices for building construction has changed.  Some of the early developed houses are constructed of brick, which is often not seen in modern day housing construction materials. The red coloring produces a strong and almost harsh appearance to the house, but this can easily be softened through the use of vegetation. Shrubby evergreen plants and species of climbing plants have the ability reduce the visibility of the red brick, making the façade of the house less intense. Ideally, and this applies to any form of residential design, the design should be relatively low maintenance on the home owner. However, yearly pruning and cleaning will still need to take place.

Hardscape such as flagstone, bluestone, natural stone, and concrete are just a few examples of light colored materials that can be used as a strong contrast against brick for a walkway and/or patio design. Play around with mixing different paver types or arrangements to see which hardscape will work best for you and your landscape.

In a successful residential design, there is interest and visually pleasing vegetation arrangements ad hardscape implementation, but there is also an element that brings the viewer back to the original character of the building and the location. Take the opportunity to explore the unlimited options of landscape design in your area.

Landscape Pots – Landscape Containers

One common form of container design consists of an accent plant surrounded by smaller, less dramatic vegetation.
One common form of container design consists of an accent plant surrounded by smaller, less dramatic vegetation. Bold colors and unique texture can also make this element pop out from its surroundings.

The utilization of landscape pots and landscape containers plays a role in the history of landscape architecture, and it continues been seen in many designs today. What may come off as a common and banal subject, landscape containers have the potential to provide aesthetic beauty and substantial benefits to the landscape as well as the buyer. Overall, these containers are low maintenance and have are less likely to become contaminated with disease. Plant materials for landscape pots  have become more versatile over the past century, and there is always opportunity to adapt to your own personal style.

This generation of design permits a wider range of available containers that can be used to store vegetation in comparison to early container design. Early container design, which may use concrete or wood materials remain to be a popular trend; however, some have experimented by creating their own containers, using nontraditional material. It is not uncommon to see synthetic materials used for planters, and it is becoming more common to find containers that are LEED certified. This opens doors for more eco-friendly options and an increase in personalization for buyers. I am personally drawn in the modernist planter designs. The simple geometric planter design combined with complex planting design can form harmonious balance and catch the eyes of visitors due to its contradictory shape in nature.

Vegetation selection is all up to the owner, but it is best to use a larger container to hold the plantings. This will allow room for the plants to grow and to prevent growing competition. Typically planting a large accent plant in the center of the planter and surrounding it with smaller vegetation is common for basic plantings; however, the use of planters is growing to the extent that users are now trying to create small edible gardens.

Edible gardens are growing in popularity, and utilizing planted containers can minimize the labor needed in order to keep up with its growing products. These planters also create learning opportunities for the younger population who are beginning to learn basic gardening skills. Smaller grown vegetables and herbs are excellent to grow in this type of planting condition.

My original thoughts and knowledge on landscape pots agreed with the majority of the population: I thought they were just a quick way to plant a few flowers without making a mess in your yard. After exploring this small element of design, I quickly realized the overwhelming potential of containers, especially with the upcoming trends that are travelling through the field of landscape architecture. People of all ages can use containers, whether it is an elderly couple who want to reduce their large scale garden into a smaller scale or even a child who is learning to create her own garden for the first time.

Planting containers are extremely versatile, providing opportunities in all types of design. They can create barriers for oncoming traffic in a bustling city, but they can also dress up the front façade of a small suburban home. They can be used to grow herbs and spices for your next meal, or they help teach your child the responsibilities of watering and managing a small garden despite living in an urban setting. Regardless of its usage, planting containers clearly demonstrate its significance in landscape design.

Landscape Containers – Pots & Urns for Outdoor Living Spaces

landscape container bethlehem
landscape containers

Landscape Containers an architectural object added to the space. Don’t skimp of the size or character of the container even though the plants may flow and cover much of it. The container itself sets the tone for the quality of what will be installed. I prefer containers made from clay, wood or metals. The quality of these materials is worth the extra price. But, there are situations where those materials make a container far too heavy to be practical for some locations. Plastic containers have come a long way and certainly have a place. They are easier to more in and out at either end of a season and for that matter can stay out all winter long. They are also better for rooftop gardens where weight may become an issue.

The design principles for Landscape Containers are similar to other landscape planting design paradigms. Think in layers in order to create varied interest and character. Use the tallest plant material in the middle if the pot is viewed from all sides or the back if it is viewed only from one side. This is the ‘Anchor’ of the container, the central features, and the show piece. I like to use variegated Canna lilies, Pennisetum rubrum or my favorite is Caladiums (elephant ears).  The mid-section can be thought of as the ‘Fill’. Here you want to pick one to three plants types that will grow to layer in front of the anchor plants ‘legs’. Coleus is my favorite colorful fill plant for those playful and lively pots. Geraniums, dahlias, cuphea, or Persian shield work well for the fill layer and may be a little more toned down and elegant than the playful coleus. The perimeter layer is the ‘Spill’ or ‘Drapes’. This is the layer of plants that flow over the edge of the pot. Some may flow to the ground and run out from there. Ipomoea is a great vine like plant for this approach. Its leaves are heavily cut and provide great texture contrasts. There are deep red leaf, chartreuses and variegated leaf varieties. Aggressive and exotic ivy varieties work in a similar manner. Some pot designs call for a more restrained spill layer. Verbena is a mid-length spill with colors that will pop. Lobularia or lantana is also somewhat loose and draping plants that will hang moderately far over a container. Calibrochoa, red purslane and licorice plant are tighter in growth habit and will only slightly spill the edges.

As with landscape design in general, think about your design concept. Are you creating a playful lush container for a private space or a formal more manicured container for the front entry to the house? Do you prefer predictable or spontaneous? A wild mix of tropical feeling plants or the simple and elegant statement made with a couple more subtle colors? Will the Landscape Containers be a monochromatic, complimentary or contrasting color scheme? My advice is not to take yourself too seriously and have fun. Experiment and enjoy the learning process. Try something new each year even if it is only in one of the layers. And don’t cheat yourself on the quality of the Landscape Containers.

Holiday and Winter Containers

Container gardening, winter pots, decorating for Christmas, Christmas containers, outdoor containers, entry containers for winter, Allentown, PA, Bethlehem, PA
Bare pots are unattractive. Fill them with greens, or dried things by the side of the road either sprayed with paint for used natural. They last all winter!

Why leave your outdoor containers that held your annuals this past summer empty?  Fill them with all kinds of greens from your landscape.  If you have any holly, great!  If you have hydrangeas, seed heads of Autumn Joy Sedum, use them for interest.  They can be spray painted for color as well as ornamental grass