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By Charles Hopkins Published 05/7/2006 | Gardening

If you are a gardening freak who is stumped for space, you may have toyed with the question of how to create a garden in a container. It isnt so tough, really, and offers the benefit of creating a private little green world of your own even though you cant have the rolling lawns and the paved paths.

So what are the containers that work best when you want to build your very own container garden? Obviously, they have to be pots of some kind. And pots, as you know, come in every conceivable shape and size. However, apart from the regulation material, you need to make them weather-resistant if they are to be left outdoors in all seasons. So dont buy terracotta pots and expect them to withstand winter in Alaska. Okay, perhaps we are being extreme here, but you get the picture.

To come back to our question, the issue of containers can thus be a tricky one. Wooden containers make an attractive option for your container garden, and the advantage here is that you can actually make them yourself if you know how. Of course, the containers can range from simple to ornate, but drainage holes and wood preservative (preferably the colored ones) are a must. Obviously, theres nothing to making a square wooden container, but with a little effort, you can as well make triangular or circular containers, including divided ones for growing two different plants.

Then again, for summer, you can consider hanging baskets or pots, particularly for trailing plants. However, you should be warned in advance that these are lovely to look at but difficult to maintain owing to their fragility and construction. So choose these kinds of containers only if you are confident that you will have enough time and patience to maintain them well. 

Now we come to the other vital question: what kinds of plants are suitable for container gardening? The answer is that there are so many different varieties plants that it is impossible to list them all here. However, there are one or two things that you need to keep in mind. For example, dont force a herb into a pot with another variety of plant, because neither will tolerate the other. If you plant perennials, make sure to keep the pot free of dead flowers and leaves contrary to popular belief, these do not act as compost, not in a container garden. So you will have to supply the compost externally from your local garden center.

Watering is also vital when you create a garden in a container, because container plants need far more water than those in a normal garden. Even an all-day shower will not supply the moisture content required. So make it a practice to water your container garden at least twice a day. Alternatively, you can add a moisture-retaining product to your compost by asking around at the garden center. Naturally, you will have to supply regular doses of compost. Finally, when it comes to the actual planting, remember a few basics, such as that trailing plants should be planted around the rim of the container. If youre lining up your containers, you should obviously do so in descending order of height.

Now weve told you all we know, happy container gardening!