As the days get longer and grass gets longer, it’s time for most of us to spruce up the garden. I remember the summers of my youth always began with helping my parents weed the flower beds and lay down red mulch around the bushes. It always made things look neat and tidy…and the same as everyone else on our block. Now that I have my own house and garden, I realize the practicality of such a habit, but I want to add more color and variety – all without breaking the bank!

I’ve found several ideas that all use the same base of a neatly trimmed back garden and then add colorful pots and planters of all different sizes, shapes and colors throughout the landscape.

To begin with, make sure your garden area, lawn, or even balcony area is cleaned and trimmed. For a quick way to “clean up” your garden: add small, neutral colored edging around any walkways or garden beds to make clear distinctions between areas (this will also keep any mulch or compost from washing away in a hard rain).

The first idea is great for any type of home, whether it be apartment or house: a fairy garden! Fairy gardens are large potted plants (or bonsai) whose bases are decorated with small figurines to make it seem like a fairy village. Typically the pot or base is wide mouthed and has either one small bonsai or several small plants spaced throughout leaving big sections of flat space in the pot. This is a great project to involve kids in!

Use old dollhouse furniture or kids’ meal figurines to decorate even something as small as some succulent plants. Lay moss or small stones down before creating your village to give it its own landscape. This cheerful addition to any porch adds a whimsical touch.

Another way to use potted plants and add decor to a summer garden is with a useful herb garden. Using pots and planters for this is great because many herbs (like mint) are ground covers and can take over your whole garden! Try growing lavender to dry and use in crafts, or look up the most used spices in your cabinet to see what can be grown in your area to cut back on grocery bills.

For smaller gardens or on apartment porches, using pots allows you the freedom to decorate up rather than out. Stack pots of decreasing sizes on top of a large planter. The wide mouths allow you to create a pyramid of plants of your choosing; and because they are all moveable, it is easy to rearrange and move as the seasons change or as you buy more.

The style of these separate, moveable pots is entirely up to you. Whether you scour yard sales for cheap finds, or use terracotta pots that can be painted and decorated, the addition of some inexpensive, brightly colored planters and pots spaced throughout garden beds or alongside neatly trimmed shrubbery adds not only color, but also has the functionality of growing something that you can use!

Featured image, img #2 both under a CC BY 2.0 license

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