Garden Forever
Containers - Tips to Keep the Weight Down

If you garden on a balcony or roof deck, the weight of the container should be kept to a minimum. It's easier to position pots that don't weigh too much and it's cheaper for soil if you can lighten the load.
  • In large containers, layer the bottom with styrofoam chips or plastic seedling pots that are crumpled up. This fills up the pot a little where soil isn't needed and makes the final planted container lighter weight. This trick is good for annuals that don't send down deep roots and never use the soil a foot below the surface.
  • It's a good idea to place a bit of fabric cloth over the plastic layer so the soil doesn't escape into the lower level.
  • Use a lightweight soil mixture to keep weight down. Mixtures are available with perlite or vermiculite in them or you can mix in up to 1/3 of vermiculite in with potting soil.
  • Consider the weight of the actual pot. While cast iron pots, stone troughs and concrete urns, are gorgeous keep them for the patio garden where they can remain in place over the summer.
  • Plastic is by far the lightest material if you like to rearrange your pots regularly or if weight is a concern on a roof deck.
  • Clay is traditional but tends to crack if left out in the winter. If you live in an apartment and don't have a potting shed, the new plastic terra-cotta imitations might be the right choice. We saw these in Florence with their Tuscan designs and you could hardly tell the difference from the traditional red clay ones. The best plastic versions are pretty expensive, often as much as clay, but they will last forever and you can leave them outside all season. As they are becoming more popular, cheaper versions can be found at many nurseries in the spring.

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