Tips for Outdoor Planters: Size, Placement, and More

Planters can seriously spruce up your outdoor space and boost your home’s curb appeal. They can make an entryway more inviting, bring a deck area to life, and much more.

Outdoor planters come in all shapes, sizes, and materials — from big Corten steel containers to smaller, lightweight varieties. In this article, we share our top tips for choosing the perfect outdoor planters for your home.

From planters to paint colors to light fixtures, there are a number of elements that go into the exterior design of your home. Our expert team of designers can help you visualize all these different components before you commit to making any changes. Learn more about our exterior design services here.

A rendering of a home's exterior featuring outdoor planters

Size Matters

Selecting the right size planter can be a bit of a Goldilocks situation — it has to be just right. If a planter is too small, it can crowd the plant’s roots, creating a scarcity of water, oxygen, and nutrients necessary for your plants to flourish.

On the other hand, a planter that is too large can also be problematic. In this scenario, the soil can become too moist and drown the plant’s roots. Excess water can also lead to fungal growth and cause the roots to rot.

According to Wayfair, you should aim for a planter that is at least 2″ wider than your plant’s diameter. Height is crucial to consider too. Opt for a planter that’s tall enough to house the plant’s roots, plus an additional 1 to 2″ at the top for watering.

As far as size of the planter relative to your space goes, we always recommend measuring your area first. Width is key in most locations because you want comfortable space around the planter to allow for foot traffic. Height is also a particularly important factor for planters placed next to doors —  look for a container that’s tall enough to be in the sight line of your guests. Keep in mind that the plants you choose for your containers will impact their visual height.

A home exterior featuring two outdoor planters framing the front door

Perfect Placement

When it comes to placement for your outdoor planters, the possibilities are practically endless. Line planters along your driveway or walkway to draw attention toward your home, or frame your front door by placing large outdoor planters on each side, as seen above. You can also place planters along a retaining wall, near your mailbox, or arrange several of them together in your garden. Container plants can bring some softness and greenery to outdoor areas with a lot of stone or other hardscaping, and they can also be used to hide or camouflage things you don’t want to highlight.

As far as groupings of planters go, three planters of varying heights work well together, but we aren’t afraid to use groupings of four or single planters that are larger or that feature a statement plant. You can always start with one container plant and add others to the grouping over time.

Pots containing spring flowers on a patio

Plant Height: Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers

If you’re going to combine multiple planters and plants in one space, incorporating plants of varying heights can create visual interest. Opt for a mix of thrillers (eye-catching plants), fillers (foliage that fills in empty spaces), and spillers (something that spills over the edge of the pot).

If you’re mixing different plants together in one pot, choose those with similar water and light requirements. (With summer right around the corner, you might want to check out these eight outside container plants perfect for full sun and heat.)

Large outdoor planter

Don’t Forget About Drainage

Drainage holes are an essential aspect of any outdoor planter. Located on the bottom of the planter, they allow excess water to flow away easily. As we mentioned earlier, excess water can cause a plant’s roots to rot. Drainage also provides aeration for potted roots, which have a harder time “breathing” than roots of plants in the ground. 

Items like gravel, pebbles, and sticks can all be used to help achieve proper drainage. A drip tray like the one used on the large outdoor planter above can help protect the surface beneath it from water rings and damage. 

galvanized metal array planters

Outdoor Planter Styles and Materials

Outdoor planters come in a variety of materials, from concrete and ceramic to fiberglass, resin, and plastic. The material used often depends on the style.  

Two big flowers pots

One of the most common types of outdoor planters is a pot planter. This classic design can be easily customized with different colors and patterns if desired. Big flower pots like the ones above are an easy way to add a pop of color to your yard. 

A selection of urns

Urns are another classic planter style. Urns work well with traditional-style decor and can add an elegant touch to your outdoor space. 

The exterior of a farmhouse-style home

Wooden or galvanized metal planters add to the casual-chic charm of farmhouse-style homes. We especially love window box planters — like the one above — for this modern farmhouse style design. 

Wall-mounted outdoor planters

If you have a modern-style home, consider standing metallic planters with thin legs or planters mounted to the wall. Metallic planters also look right at home in industrial-inspired settings. 

Backyard design with a dipping pool, xeriscaping, and lots of outdoor planters

The Bottom Line on Outdoor Planters

From the front entryway to your backyard oasis, outdoor planters are a great addition to pretty much any area of your home’s exterior. Hopefully the tips we shared help you pick out the perfect planters for your home.

Turning your exterior design dreams into reality is easy when you enlist professionals to help. Our expert designers are ready to bring your vision to life. Get started today.