This is my first blog post from Craft Foxes ( I have been interning there since early April 2014, and I’m enjoying every moment of this 3-month internship.

The article text is listed below in case you don’t want to jump to the link.

Happy Earth Day! Creating container gardens is a great way to celebrate — they bring natural color and beauty to your yard, they require less water than full garden beds, and you can get really creative with repurposed and recycled containers. When choosing plants, look for varieties that naturally grow together in nature and that will thrive given your yard’s own sun exposure.

We talked to three expert gardeners about how to build four-season container gardens that will last all year long.

4-season succulent garden
Photo by Anthropek
Anthropek used the following plants in their 4-season container: Sedum rupestre (Angelina), Sedum (Purple Emperor), Armeria maritima, Sempervivum sp. (#1-cultivar unknown), Sempervivum sp. (#2-cultivar unknown) and Sepmervivum sp. (#1).

1.  Use a variety of low-growing succulents

The great thing about succulents is they can thrive in small spaces for a really long time — you don’t have to replace them each season. Erika Hanson from Anthropek Containers + Gardens recommends using succulents with contrasting shapes and colors to create the most dramatic effect.

Plant succulents in a weather-resistant hypertufa pot, which is not only lightweight and mobile, but it also ages gracefully and promotes proper drainage. You can dig up lots of online tutorials for making your own DIY hypertufa pots, using just about any container as a mold.

As for the soil mix for succulents, Hanson suggests incorporating some good compost and poultry grit. It’s also important to elevate the container to allow water to drain freely.

4-season container garden
Photo by Joanna Guzzetta
Four Seasons Container Gardens in Portland, Ore., plants New Zealand Flax (Phormium ‘Rainbow warrior’), Hebe Variegata, Primula (primrose), Hens and Chicks,
Lamium (White Nancy), and Hellebore (White beauty) in their 4-season container garden.

2.  Provide good drainage so plants last longer

Joanna Guzzetta, owner of Four Seasons Container Gardens, says even though container gardens thrive the best when you change the soil and plants each season, you can help your plants last beyond the season by using fillers in the bottom of your container, under the soil, to provide good drainage.She recommends a reusable, long-lasting filler called packing pearls, but never use foam packing peanuts because they are toxic to plants.

You can also place clean plastic pots upside down in the bottom of the container, but as they are prone to becoming brittle and cracking over time, they need to be replaced every so often.

Spring 4-season container garden
Photo by Melissa LeGates
The 4-season container garden was built by Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses, in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The planter contains Juniper Compessa, daffodils, Calendula, Gerber Daisy, and pansy.

3.  Build around a tall evergreen plant or shrub

Kerri Laudig from Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses likes the idea of using an evergreen or a slow-growing shrub like juniper, cypress or dwarf crepe myrtle as a focal point for your container garden. Then you can seasonally change out the flowers surrounding it.Laudig says a juniper will last about three years in a container before it becomes root-bound. You can either transplant it into a bigger container or remove it temporarily to prune the roots and put it back into the original container.

She suggests using a water-soluble fertilizer regularly and adding fresh soil to the top as needed to keep the plants healthy.

4. A few more tips that didn’t make the cut

You can also use stones, pebbles or mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture, according to Balcony Container Gardening.

While you are planning your 4-season container garden, make sure to check out a former Craft Foxes post on Renee Wilkinson, author of the blog Hip Chicks Dig and the book Modern Homesteading: Grow, Raise, Create.

You might also check out blog post DIY Garden Project: Aluminum Garden Markers. They look great in any container and help keep you organized.

Find out more tips and ways to celebrate Earth Day at the Earth Day Network.


Melissa LeGates is a freelance writer and retired Air Force journalist who specializes in features and B2B writing. She is also a colored pencil artist and blogs about it at You can commission Melissa’s work (either writing or art) by contacting her at