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A Beginner's Guide to Container Gardening

Container gardening is the perfect solution if you have a small place or need to move soon. Use what you have on hand to keep the costs down and the joy up!

A Beginner's Guide to Container Gardening

Think you need space for a garden? Think again! Container gardening is easy but you do need to get a few basics right from the start. Follow these 8 easy steps to get the best start on your container gardening journey.

Choose your containers

There's a lot of room to play around here! Keep the costs down by upcycling materials you already have (or can get for free) Think old paint buckets, DIY pallet containers, broken basins, chipped teapots, or old tires. Of course, that's not everyone's cup of tea, so feel free to invest a little money and get pots that you love. Spend some time on Pinterest to get container gardening ideas and spark your creativity.

If you're planning on container gardening with vegetables, then you'll want to choose containers that won't leach dangerous substances into your soil. Wood, ceramic, steel, and cloth are all good options. Avoid using tires, chemically treated wood, and some plastics.

Generally, you want your containers to be on the bigger side. Most plants can't grow to their full potential in small containers. If your container holds less than a quart of soil, it's probably not large enough. Decide what you want to grow, find out how much soil they need, and work from there. Almost anything can be grown in a container.

Get your drainage sorted

Drainage is super important when it comes to container gardening. Waterlogged soil will kill your plants quicker than you'd think. The first step is to make sure you have some decent size holes in the bottom of your containers. If you bought garden pots, then they probably already have holes. If you've made your own, then remember to drill in some drainage holes.

You can buy pot liners which help the containers drain easily and stop roots from clogging the holes. Otherwise use what you have on hand. Stones, gravel, and even pieces of broken ceramic or porcelain items are perfect. You just want to create some space at the bottom of your container to help the water move through freely. Once your drainage is sorted, you're ready to add your soil.

Choose your soil

If you're new to gardening, then you'll want to keep this as simple as possible. Visit your local garden center and get a few bags of potting mix. It works out more expensive than some other options, but it's a great way to take the guesswork out of gardening. Once you're feeling settled and confident you can start putting together your own mixes.

Watch the sun

Observe your spot for a few days. How much sun does it get? And at what time of day? You can find plants that are suited to almost any condition, but it's important to know how much sun you have before you choose your plants. Are there some parts of your garden or patio that receive more sun than others? Reserve those spots for your sun-loving plants.

Choose the right plants

Now that you know how much sun you have, you can choose plants that are perfectly suited. Most fruits and vegetables will need at least 6 hours of sun a day. Leafy greens might get by with less, while fruiting plants (like tomatoes and peppers) generally want more. It can all seem very overwhelming. The best plan is to head to your nearest garden center and find out which plants will be best suited to your specific setup. Remember, bigger plants generally need bigger containers to grow in!

Too much shade? No worries, there are plants that love the shade! You'll still be able to put together a beautiful container garden even if you're low on sunlight.

Pot plants need water more often

The soil in containers dries out much quicker than the soil in the ground. During hot weather, your plants will probably need to be watered daily. If it's really hot and they're still young, then you'll probably need to water them even more often! Not sure if they need water? Stick your finger into the soil to feel if it's still wet. It's a cheap and simple way to keep track of how much water your plants are needing.

Go easy on the fertilizer

There is such a thing as too much fertilizer! Most fertilizer packaging will have instructions on how much fertilizer you should use, based on the size of the pot. You may think that more would be better, but in this case, it really is best to follow the instructions. Too much fertilizer can easily kill your container garden! If you're feeling unsure, then compost is a great option. You can use as much as you like without damaging the plants and it's all totally natural and organic! What a win! Save has a great guide to get you started on your composting journey. It's simpler than you think!

Remember the mulch

Mulch can help keep your soil temperature steady, keep the weeds down, and stop water from evaporating too quickly. That means your plants will be happier and you won't have to water so often. Only apply mulch once your plants are well established. There are so many great mulching options to choose from. Woodchips are a common option, but compost, grass clippings, and straw are also great choices. Look around and find what is readily available in your area.

Get saving on your garden

Gardening is a rewarding and relaxing way to unwind and destress. The best part is, it might even end up saving you money! Check's Coupon Book Finder to make sure you never miss a deal on any of your gardening supplies! It's super quick and simple! Just enter your address to find out where you might find Coupon Book offers in your neighborhood.   

Looking for more ways to feel good without breaking the bank? Save has got you covered! Learn about the benefits of sunshine, find out more about happiness triggers, or try these ways to get more involved in your community.