How to Set Up Terraced Planters

How to Set Up Terraced Planters thumbnail
Is less really more? It depends on your taste, though, some of the prettiest terraces are dense with planters and foliage.

If you’re about to embark on staging a terrace garden, you are facing one of the most rewarding projects there is, and one that is bound to tap into your creative side and reveal your true personality. After all, one of the greatest features of container gardening is its portability; you can move plants and flowers around as the mood or lighting suits you, add new features, pull others indoors and basically create a beautiful “evolving landscape.” Plus, you have virtually unlimited ways to house your plants and flowers; if something can hold dirt, consider using it as a planter. Begin this exciting process with a basic design plan, but embrace the realization that the plan will certainly change as your terrace grows into a visual landscape of appeal and beauty.


    • 1

      Gather your plants and flowers, grouping them by complementary colors or contrasts.

    • 2

      Assemble your planters and look for common themes, such as containers that are terracotta, ceramic or wicker. Scan your garage and home for other unconventional planters, such as buckets and pails, milk crates, bushel baskets, coolers, ice buckets, drums and lampshades of interesting shapes. Be sure to drill a hole at the bottom of these items for drainage before filling them with potting soil.

    • 3

      Gather tall plant stands and other elevating platforms, such as pedestals. Then gather smaller uplifting elements, such as logs, bricks, overturned planters or a narrow table from indoors that you can cover with a runner or leave exposed.

    • 4
      Elevated platforms will conserve space on your terrace.
      Elevated platforms will conserve space on your terrace.

      Find a “focal point,” such as an old wagon, wheelbarrow or gardening station, around which you can design your terrace. Position this focal point so that it is the first object people are likely to see as they enter the terrace from the most common entry point. If you don’t have such a piece, consider buying an inexpensive trellis. Whatever you choose, remember that this focal point should be symmetrical to the theme of gardening.

    • 5

      Review your terrace inventory; you should be off to a great start already, though, remember that you don’t have to use every single piece at this juncture, especially if your terrace is cramped for space. Look around your inventory and look for common themes. Consider which pieces will complement any furniture on your terrace, as well as surrounding walkways and paths.

    • 6

      Position your focal point, then frame either side of it with an elevating platform, preferably a plant stand or pedestal. Begin grouping plants and flowers on these elements and on the terrace around them, using the decorator’s preference of odd numbers, especially groupings of threes and fives.

    • 7

      Elevate as many plants and flowers to eye level as possible. Arrange the plants and flowers so that your eyes -- moving from the left side of the terrace to the right -- naturally turn to pieces low and high. Creating visual variety is key to creating a beautiful terrace garden, but it takes some time and tinkering to achieve. Continue moving pieces around and take frequent steps back from your work to review it as your terrace takes shape.

    • 8

      Install any hanging baskets last; they are the finishing touch and should not obstruct or otherwise interfere with your terrace landscape.

    • 9
      Place all but the smallest planters on casters to make them easier to move around on your terrace.
      Place all but the smallest planters on casters to make them easier to move around on your terrace.

      Consider adding an offbeat, whimsical or conversation piece to your garden -- the piece, or pieces, that people wouldn’t necessarily expect to see, but one that expresses your personality. If you love music, consider staging an old guitar on the floor or hanging it on a wall. If you love movies, scatter some DVD covers around your terrace garden. If you’re known for your love of purses, set one on a pedestal -- or better yet, fill it with soil, plant some vinca in it and display it. Don’t overdo this part of the project; add just enough pieces to create visual interest.

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