by Sutherlands
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Include garden planters in the decorating scheme of your home and yard to provide a feast for all the senses - sight, smell, touch, taste, and even sound! Planters filled with cleverly chosen flowers and vegetation and organic products can entice song birds and butterflies to your yard, will add dramatic focal points at various heights, and can produce tasty herbs, fruits, and vegetables for the table. Garden planters filled with fragrant blooms and trailing vines can mark entrances or define and unite areas; can provide shade with vines, shrubs, or small trees; and you can easily transform one into a fountain. Container gardening makes it possible to enjoy the mild exercise and pleasure of gardening even if your "yard" is only a patio or a balcony.

The Best Planters
1. Use - If you are going to lift or move your planters (e.g., hanging planters), factor-in the additional weight of water-drenched soil and fully-grown plants when deciding how heavy it can be. Patio planters or pots can be ceramic planters or made of cast stone or a heavy metal, like wrought iron, and wooden planters are a popular choice for window boxes. For hanging gardens, choose light plastic or fiberglass planters, or use lined cages or baskets, or stick to small planters only.
2. Style - Coordinate the style and design of your garden planters with the architecture or style of your home. Elegant urns of cast cement and wrought iron complement a formal home, or you can choose from beautiful ceramic or a fiberglass, such as polyethylene, which can be poured into molds to create every imaginable style and shape. Lighter metals ( e.g., copper) and streamlined shapes are great for a modern home, and natural-looking materials (e.g., terracotta, wicker, wood, copper) enhance country homes.
3. Color and Size - Garden planters can be any size if resting safely on the ground, but if raised, make sure the full planter won't be too large and heavy to move. Choose colors and designs that will coordinate with the surroundings: natural woods, wicker, terracotta, and metals provide subtle tones, but if you want contrast and drama, select colorful ceramic, fiberglass, or plastic.
4. Match the Plant - Cactus and desert plants look great in terracotta or ceramic, and so do herb and vegetable gardens. Strawberries and tomatoes can be grown in planters designed especially for them, and choose heavy planters for top-heavy plants ( e.g., shrubs) so that the fully grown plant won't topple over.

When Liners Are Needed
1. If you are choosing garden planters that don't retain moisture well ( e.g ., terracotta) be sure and add a plastic liner or you will be watering all day long in hot weather.
2. To turn your planter into a fountain, choose either a water-tight material (e.g., ceramic), or use a plastic liner.
3. Unless they are moisture-proof, hanging baskets need liners to retain water and soil and these can be of fiber or moss.

Soil and Fertilizer Choices
Select rich potting soil and don't fill the planter so full that it won't hold your plants and the water you will be adding every few days. Use organic fertilizers and insecticides, following package instructions, and feel good about your protection of the environment (and your own protection if you are planning to eat some of the produce!). Birds and butterflies know the difference, too, and you will attract more of both if you stick to organic products.

Select Appropriate Plants and Seeds
Planters look best if you put the highest plants in the center of your container, bushy plants next, and hanging plants or vines around the edges. Whether you choose bedding plants or decide to grow plants from seed, select those that grow best in your climate and confine yourself to one to three varieties per container. Have fun with color choices! Colorful blooms with a high nectar content attract birds and butterflies.

The only maintenance required for container gardens is to water often, fertilize frequently, and remove deadheads to encourage new blooms. You can handle that, right? Create a beautiful garden and begin enjoying all the pleasures that await you.

About the Author:
Scott Gray is currently a garden enthusiast and freelance writer who enjoys providing tips to consumers who are in the market for all types of garden planters.