Using Planters to Create Outdoor Spaces


PVC Planters create an intimate dining experience at a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant.

We all know the value of a deck or patio when it comes to creating outdoor living areas, but have you ever considered that planters and pots can be used like portable room dividers in the landscaping? Whether you just love plants and want your garden sitting area design to incorporate as many as possible, or you’re trying to create a lot of impact on a budget, selecting the right containers is key to creating the illusion of enclosed space in your landscape.

Choosing the Perfect Planters

A homeowner’s personal sense of style has a huge impact on their outdoor garden rooms. From materials to design, the containers in an outdoor space really influence the atmosphere. Naturally aging materials like clay and copper are interesting additions, but don’t always get the mileage of a pot made from synthetic materials. Marrying the two can create the gracefully aging atmosphere you desire with the added durability that will keep your planters around for the long-haul.

Creating an outdoor space using planters is simple. First, determine what the overall goal of your space is – Comfort? Design? Diverting foot traffic? Then determine which planters fit your personal style and GROW!

Materials like cast aluminum are being used increasingly in the design of intricately detailed planters intended for long term outdoor use and to create outdoor spaces. The great advantage to cast aluminum and other non-reactive metals is that unlike iron and copper, they don’t show their age. These materials are essentially timeless, refusing to react with the environment and rust or oxidize like other metals. They’re the perfect compliment to an outdoor room with crisp lines and perfectly manicured plantings.


Add curb appeal with lack window boxes and matching vinyl planters.

Polyethylene planters have come a long way in the last decade – today’s choices include planters that easily mimic real wood with increased durability. They happily weather years of outdoor abuse and exposure to UV light without warping or requiring a new paint job, unlike similar wooden structures. These light-weight planters are often used as dividers between areas, since they can be molded into very large sizes without a loss of quality. Polyethylene planters can be made into timeless replicas of a range of popular styles, from rustic to cosmopolitan.


Natural rattan planters add dimension and warmth to this cold concrete area.

Extending the Life of Natural Planters

Your landscape is a little controlled piece of nature, but natural materials rarely last long when exposed to constantly wet conditions, UV light and drying winds. It’s easy to find materials that recreate the look of natural materials with increased durability for spaces that are constantly exposed, but if you’re looking for more natural screened-in porch ideas, rattan may fill the bill. These woven containers are made from natural materials and somewhat durable, but constant exposure to soil and water can shorten their lives considerably.
When choosing a rattan planter, or any planter made from natural fibers, look for one that comes with a plastic or fiberglass liner. Liners create a permanent barrier between the delicate natural fibers of woven planters and the soil where your plant is growing to ensure that the planter lasts as long as possible. With minimal exposure to the environment on a covered patio or screened-in porch, your natural fiber planters will stay looking fresh for much longer.

No matter your personal style or the feeling you wish to evoke with your outdoor living area, you’ll make a huge impact by choosing the right planters. Lining them up like columns or stacking them together on a rack to create a living barrier can create the illusion of order and space, calming a little of the chaos outdoors.

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