21 Creative Container Garden Ideas to Add to Your Outdoor Space

Creative herb garden
Photo: Westend61 / GETTY IMAGES

Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a small patio, a container garden is an easy way to elevate any outdoor space—and is a great method for every level of gardener. From easy-to-cultivate herbs to a mini citrus garden, simply choose the plants that match your skill-set and get growing.

There are plenty of ways to bring container garden ideas to life that will fit in with your existing aesthetic. For an earthy, nature-filled idea, create one of Martha's favorites: a moss garden. She collects the moss around her Maine home to plant in decorative faux bois containers. Or keep it simple and display plants in window boxes or pots for instant curb appeal. No matter the look you're hoping to achieve, we've rounded up a variety of creative container garden ideas you can use for your next horticultural endeavor.

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Moss Gardens

Paul Costello

The woodland near Martha's home in Maine is lush with mosses, lichens, and ferns, which she pots in decorative containers. After creating her container garden, she brings everything back outdoors to display on her property.

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Window Boxes

various plant types in black iron window boxes
Getty / Grace Cary

Window boxes are big enough to grow all sorts of herbs and plants, from perennials and annuals to herbs and vegetables. The low-maintenance style of gardening is a great way to add curb appeal to your home.

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Vertical Garden

Herb wall featuring aluminium pots, hanging on black frame against a gray brick wall.
Naomi Rahim / GETTY IMAGES

Potted plants don't have to take up a lot of space in your yard. Instead, go vertical by placing small plants in containers and nestling them inside slots on an out-of-the way rack.

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Herb Garden

Fresh aromatic culinary herbs in white pots on windowsill. Lettuce, leaf celery and small leaved basil.

Growing herbs is one of the easiest ways to start an edible garden. Situate basil, parsley, thyme, and more herbs in small containers in a sunny spot near the kitchen for easy snipping. You can use them for a delicious seasoning or garnish.

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Succulent Garden

Bryan Gardner

Succulents are ideal for container planting because they have shallow root systems that can thrive in smaller environments. The arid plants also great if you live in an area prone to drought as they only need to be watered once a week.

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DIY jar terrarium

This self-sustaining ecosystem will make creating a container garden easy. The miniature plant habitat just needs a little care—like diffused light and a weekly cleaning—to maintain for the long haul.

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Citrus Garden

citrus tree in greenhouse
Catherine Falls Commercial / GETTY IMAGES

A tropical oasis doesn't have to be far away. Create your own by planting a citrus tree (or group of trees) in containers. Position your plant beside a south-facing window with good airflow and water regularly without making the soil overly moist. When it's warm out, move your trees into the fresh air.

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Ivy Topiaries

ivy topiaries

Create an ivy topiary—which just requires hanging baskets of ivy, pots, soil, topiary forms, and garden pruners—for a structured garden masterpiece.

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Vegetable Garden

A colorful basket of vegetables sitting on the ground in a garden.
Getty Images

Turn your container garden into a thriving vegetable patch—many of your favorite edible plants thrive in containers. Make sure to plant different vegetables in each pot so they don't compete for nutrients.

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Herb Tower


Get creative with your herb garden by growing a variety in multiple containers piled on top of one another. In this display, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, and chives are grown in separate, stackable pots. If you want to grow mint, plant it on its own in the top pot, since it can overwhelm other herbs.

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Hanging Baskets

wire basket plant
John Dolan

Hanging baskets are an easy way to display plants without taking up space in your ground, on your patio, or on your windowsills. Martha recommends filling yours with rhipsalis, sedums, staghorn ferns, and senecios, which all do well grown in hanging baskets.

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Cacti in Containers

cacti collection on containers

If you live in a dry climate or want to reduce your water use, cacti are the way to go. Just make sure your pot has holes in the bottom so they can drain easily when they do get a drink.

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Plants With Visual Interest

pink and green polka dot plants in black containers
Getty / revjake

If you want a plant that will bring style to your backyard, you should go with ones that features pops of color—like the polka dot plant (also known as the Hypoestes Phyllostachya). This houseplant comes in red, white, and pink hues for an eye-catching display.

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Terra-Cotta Garden

terracotta pots

Terra-cotta pots are porous, so they're ideal for plants that need well-draining soil. Elevate your display by using painters' tape to design patterns on your terra-cotta vessels.

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Chimney Flues

chimney pots

If you want to enhance your curb appeal, chimney flues are a stately way to prop up plants. Choose antique or new pots and place a plastic liner inside each. We filled ours with purple cordylines, silver tradescantia, and rex begonia vine.

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Potted Ferns

potted fern
Carol Yepes / GETTY IMAGES

The fern is a low-maintenance plant that just needs a good amount of humidity to thrive. Our pro tip? Add colorful pebbles to the bottom of a decorative planter and place the pot on top of the stones to give it its best humidity level and a touch of style.

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Raised Garden Bed

VegTrug Trough Planter
Courtesy of Gardeners

For those looking to plant multiple varieties of their favorites, a raised garden bed is a great way to dip into container gardening without limiting yourself.

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Upcycled China

china soup tureen reused as planter
Ashley Poskin

Whether you'd like to make use of your mother's favorite china patterns or simply want a unique DIY, create a small container garden with multiple upcycled planters, like these.

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Vining Plants

wrapped leather plant hanger
Johnny Fogg

Take advantage of hanging planters by showing off your favorite vining plants. Placed indoors or out—some English ivy or pothos plants are sure to wow.

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Pumpkin Planters

pumpkin succulents
Janelle Jones

This simple and beautiful DIY makes for a great low-maintenance container garden idea during fall. Fill small pumpkins with some succulent potting mix and your favorite succulent for a fun display

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Water Garden

water garden

A water garden instantly gives the plants on display an artistic flair. These plants need sun, but they don't require soil because they get their nutrients from water. Mix floating greens with submerged varieties to play with the space of your container and create a completely unique look.

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