How Trough Planters add Garden Style

by Greg on July 1, 2019

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No matter if you have a huge garden, a small patio, or a city balcony, trough planters can give your outside space a modern makeover that’ll make the neighbours jealous. Planters are a great alternative to the traditional flower bed and can act as a colourful and creative way to section a garden giving it specific areas of interest.

Wooden raised beds have been a feature of gardens for decades. Old railway sleepers were cheap and plentiful and could be cut to create planters of just about any size required. Unfortunately, they are very heavy and not suitable for smaller city gardens or balconies. However, nowadays there is a massive variety of trough planters available, in lots of different shapes and sizes, and made from all kinds of materials. One of the unseen advantages of having a container garden is that it can keep down the number of pests. Any pest that goes after rootstock or burrows in the ground will have great difficulty getting into a planter.

Strategically placing trough planters around the garden can delineate particular areas. If you are using them to grow climbing plants, then they can be like a moveable screen to create hidden parts of the garden or to lead visitors from one area to another. Also, if you match the theme of a trough planter with the garden planting, it can be used to tie a paved patio area with the rest of the garden, so the two are linked.

Because trough planters bring the level of the soil up, so it is easier to see, they make an ideal home for low growing subtle plants that are often missed in the regular garden. Alpines and succulents are a good choice, as well as bluebell, flowering onion, and Bellflower. Be careful not to mix alpines with perennials, for example, as each type has its own growing requirements and one will suffer next to the other.

Drainage is critical in container gardening. Anything you use to hold the soil needs to have plenty of drainage holes in the bottom so excess water can drain away. Without these holes, the plant roots can steep in water and eventually rot killing the plant. Some gardeners suggest putting a layer of gravel in the bottom of your trough planter to help with the drainage. However, if you want to be able to reposition your troughs, this will only make them more cumbersome and less easy to move. My suggestion is to fill the bottom of your trough planter with these Styrofoam nuggets you get in packaging. They are light and fill the space at the bottom of the planter allowing air to circulate and water to drain. A porous membrane layer between the foam and the soil will make things easier to clean when it comes to replenishing the earth at the end of the season.

You may not notice until it’s too late, but trough planters, like any container garden, dry out faster than ordinary soil. If you want to keep your plants in the tip-top condition, they should be watered frequently. Better to water a little often, than a lot rarely. Overwatering is just as bad as not watering enough as having the roots submerged in water does not allow them to breathe and to take in nutrients from the soil.

As we’ve been talking about water, you can turn the trough planter idea on its head and think of them as little ponds to create a water garden. In essence, they become a big bucket, where you can grow lotus, water lilies, water hyacinths, and all manner of reeds and grasses. If you like the idea of using a trough planter as a water garden, make sure it’s watertight, to begin with. Ensure there are no drainage holes cut into the bottom of the trough. Then fill it with rainwater and leave it for a couple of days before planting.

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