Summer Planting Tips

By John Voket - This summer, I’m going to pot –I mean, I'll be following the lead of the Ballard Design Studio pros who say this is the year to start decorating with planters.

Getting started is as easy as strategically placing a few potted containers to create lush, easy-to-maintain landscaping for your outdoor space. A mix of foliage plants and flowers provide instant color, and planters provide you with a great design tool because you can use them to define a space.

Use leafy green plants in a row of planters to create a cozy conversation area or direct a natural flow of traffic to and from the patio. And trees potted in containers are great for blocking off a workstation or hiding unsightly areas.

And remember, when grouping containers together, stagger heights for the biggest visual impact. Here are a few more "self-contained" tips from the pros at Ballard:

• Create a combination of thriller, filler and spiller plants. A thriller is a bold plant that creates height. A filler is a mounding, billowy plant and a spiller is a low trailing plant that spills out of the sides toward the ground.
• Consider texture and color combinations.
• Make sure all of the plants are either shade lovers or require sunlight, depending on the location of your planter.
• Think about presentation when choosing number of plants. Will the planter be seen from all sides or just one?

The Ballard design pros also advise you to use planters as makeshift beverage tubs and place them in convenient gathering spots by the grill, pool or a seating area and keep the drinks flowing. Or, place planters filled with towels, flip-flops, sunscreen and hats nearby - planters are an attractive, weatherproof alternative to woven baskets or unsightly plastic tubs.

And if you want to make your first easy stab at window box or patio gardening, create a feast for the senses with potted herbs. Aromatic herbs such as mint, lavender, basil and rosemary infuse the air with their natural scents and enhance your favorite dishes.