For the past five years, while away at college, I have been living in an apartment, subject to not being able to have a nice large garden or nicely landscaped yard of my own. Being a horticulture major and future landscape designer (not to mention a HUGE plant lover!) this was a bit frustrating to me. Luckily there is such thing as Container Gardening! This opened up so many options for such a small space to work with. Whether you are a fellow apartment resident or even a homeowner with a nice landscape to work with, container gardening is a great option for everyone! I have included in this post how to have a successful container garden and given examples of containers I have made for my apartment patio.

What you will need:


  • You will need to find a container that you would like to use for your container garden. Containers can be purchased almost anywhere. You can find them at your local Lowes, Home Depot, or Walmart or you can find them at garden centers and even antique shops.
  • Prices can vary depending on size of the container, material the container is made from, and where you purchase it.
  • A good working size container for roughly four 1 pint plants is no smaller than a 3 gallon container.
  • Best way to figure out how many plants will fit in your container: take the container with you when you buy plants and place them each in the container to see how well they fit.


Potting soil:

  • Potting soil can be bought from any local Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, or garden center.
  • Price varies depending on the size of bag, brand, and where you purchase it.
  • For one 3 gallon container a medium bag should be enough.
  • If you are wanting to make more than one 3 gallon containers the large size bag would be what you need to get.
  • Depending on how many containers you are making, one large bag should provide for two to two and a half 3 gallon containers.


  • Plants can be bought at any of the places mentioned above for purchasing containers and potting soil.
  • Price, again, varies on size of plant, quantity, brand (Home & Garden Collection, Proven Winners Collection, etc.), and where you purchase the plant.
  • This may be redundant but you’d be surprised: make sure all the plants you have chosen all have the same cultural requirements—such as full sun, full shade, partial sun, or partial shade.



  • Water for watering the plants in the container once the planting is complete.


Container Location:

First you will need to scope out the perfect spot in which you would like to place the container. Make sure the area meets all the cultural requirements of the plants in which you would like to use in your container. For example: if the plants you have chosen all require full sun the area in which you place the container should have direct sunlight for at least 6 hours.

Work Space:

Next you should set up a workspace that can allow for a little messiness. Sometimes spillage happens when putting the potting soil in the container.


Now that you have put your beautiful container together it is very important to make sure you water it after the container is complete.
Something I was not very aware of before taking Retail Garden Center Management at Auburn—plants go through moisture stress in both conditions—too much water stress and too little water stress.

Tip: best way to figure out if your plant/container is thirsty or not—stick your finger down in the soil as far as you can and feel how moist the soil is. If it is dry it needs to be watered!
Often times the plants we see and buy at stores are not always taken care of as well as we would at home. The plants tend to acclimate to the moisture conditions they are given on a regular basis.

If the plant does not experience adequate watering while it lives on the shelves of a garden center it will sort of “get used to” not having adequate water. So when we pick out our lovely new plant and take it home to care for it (giving it the amount of water it needs) it can go into moisture stress by all of a sudden having to learn how to take in more water than it is used to.

This doesn’t mean you don’t need to water the plant properly once you take it home—just means to keep an eye on them after the first few regular waterings!

Now that you have made your very own container garden you can fill your small (or any size) space with beautiful plants that make you feel right at home!

If you have made a container I would love to see what you have done! Please email me with pictures of your containers and your container may be featured in DSLD’s “In the News” section of our website!

If you tried to make a container of your own and just couldn’t quite get it right please feel free to contact me for questions or if you would like me to make you a container (will be a small charge)!


Until Next Time—
Megan McNair
DSLD Land Management
Landscape Designer
Social Media Specialist