Garden planter ideas: 18 wooden, metal and terracotta containers for patios, decking, porches and paths

Want a stylish display for your plot? These garden planter ideas will perk up your outdoor space in no time

garden planter ideas: woodlodge two tone
(Image credit: Woodlodge)

Our garden planter ideas are a fabulous way for taking any plot up a notch. For no matter how much space or gardening experience you have, they're an easy and effective way to make a stylish statement.

Of course, garden planters offer a huge range of versatility and the opportunity for you to get creative. For instance, they can be updated throughout the seasons for year-round colour, or filled with 
your favourite evergreens 
for a modern, structured look. You can even use them to grow veggies and herbs, or fill with ornamental grasses to create a screen between zones as part of your container gardening ideas

However, the actual style of the planter is not one to overlook. There are lots of options available and the right container can be a feature in itself, regardless of what you put in it. For instance, a super-sized planter will pack a punch and looks gorgeous with a mix of cascading blooms, and can also be used to divide up a space. Treated timber designs are perfect for a more country-classic feel, whilst modern metal will set a contemporary tone.

Want to find the right garden planter ideas for your plot? Keep scrolling, to see our very favourite designs – you're sure you'll find one you'll love.

1. Opt for dimpled textures

garden planter ideas: dimpled pots

Dimple pots from Woodlodge

(Image credit: Woodlodge)

These garden planters are decorated with rows of dimples and beautifully-coloured glazes. Their slightly irregular finish adds to the handmade charm – wonderful for adding a subtle boho vibe to your plot. 

Arrange various sizes together to add extra interest to the display and plant up with contrasting colours. We love how a palette of deep purple flowers and foliage has been used here, which pops against the surrounding blues and greens.

2. Play with height by adding legs

garden planter ideas: cox & cox pots with feet

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

Opting for garden planter ideas with legs is a surefire way to add a touch of playfulness to your outdoor space. This stylish duo above sports a totally-on-trend etched design, whilst weatherproof, wooden legs give them an extra dose of character. 

Their added stature gives them a stronger presence in the garden, too. Simply plant with your favourite leafy shrubs, ferns, or grasses for a fuss-free feature with a unique twist.

3. Try a two-tone look

garden planter ideas: two toned pots

Two tone pots from Woodlodge

(Image credit: Woodlodge)

We adore these glazed pottery numbers with their pleasing round shapes and two-tone finish in neutral hues. They subtly set a contemporary tone but would look fabulous in any style of plot. 

Planted up with ferns, Hebes, Heucheras and Rudbeckias, they add a fresh feature fit for any of our modern garden ideas. Cluster in groups using various heights for a bolder look.

4. Hang your planters up

Garden planter ideas: hanging white pots from lechuza

(Image credit: LECHUZA)

Sure, these wicker-style planters look stunning, but they have a hidden bonus feature that will save you tons of time, too: they're self-watering! They also come with a water indicator, and even a bag of substrate gravel for popping below your potting mix.

With their stainless-steel hangers, they can quickly be secured to your porch, gazebo, or one of our pergola ideas to create a striking display. And, if all that wasn't enough, they'll look just as stylish indoors as they will out, so are perfect if you want to liven up your conservatory as well as your patio.

If you love the look and are after tips on how to plant them up, head over to our hanging basket ideas for lots of inspiration.

5. Bring a splash of colour to your space

garden planter ideas: colourful pots

Fiesta pots from Woodlodge

(Image credit: Woodlodge)

Bright colours are an easy way to breathe new life into a lacklustre space. So if you're feeling like your plot is looking a little tired, then these might well be the garden planter ideas for you.

Go for funky citrus tones such as this zesty lime or mandarin orange for an invigorating feel – a tactile pattern will only add to the effect. And if you're really feeling bold and ready for a refresh, then check out our colourful garden furniture ideas, too.

6. Create a beautiful border with wood

Rowlinson rectangular patio planter from Cuckooland

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

For a more structured planting scheme that's easier to control than a border, choose a natural wooden planter. It's a lovely, rustic way to display your favourite blooms.

This one above is made from pressure-treated timber, making it tough and durable. Fancy something a little more colourful? With the help of our best exterior wood paint, you can personalise it with all your favourite hues.

7. Opt for a large metal planter for growing veggies

Harrod superior metal planter from Harrod Horticultural

(Image credit: Harrod Horticultural)

A large planter is ideal for a low-maintenance way of growing fruit and vegetables. And metal ones, like this one above, are made to last. 

Crafted from powder-coated galvanised steel, they come in a range of finishes and sizes. Buy a few, planting different fruit and veggies in each, so you can enjoy home-grown produce throughout the year. 

Need a bit of advice for getting started? Check out our guide on growing vegetables in pots.

8. Pair grasses with contemporary planters to screen off a space

contemporary anthracite troughs Waitrose Garden

Planters from Waitrose Garden

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

Tall, feathery grasses or bamboos can create a natural screen to an area of your garden. Bamboo in particular is fast growing, whereas grass will soften the look whilst giving interest all year round. Arrange in bold planters to create a secluded seating area or dining space. 

These large, contemporary designs are perfect 
for adding a focal point to a patio, terrace or as part of your courtyard garden ideas. Plus, they have wheels so can be moved around to suit your needs.

9. Go for pretty patterns

garden planter ideas: patterned pots

Patterned planters are given a dose of cuteness with the brown hedgehog pothangers from Ella James

(Image credit: Ella James)

First of all, can we just note how adorable these patterned pots are? They add a vintage feel to a space, so are ideal if you love a cottage-garden style. But look closer, and you'll see a few cute little visitors too – which are, of course, charming hedgehog pothangers.

Crafted from resin, they add a lovely touch to a garden, and are sure to bring delight to both kids and grown-ups alike. Just pop one or two in your garden planter display (our best cottage garden plants would make a perfect accompaniment) for a whimsical touch.

10. Save on space with modular designs

garden planter ideas: hanging pots on balcony

(Image credit: Lechuza)

One of the best things about garden planter ideas is they can be used to bring more flowers and foliage into any sized plot – no borders or beds required. And whilst all kinds of containers will do the job, if you've been eyeing up our small garden ideas or even our balcony garden ideas, these designs are definitely one to consider.

Their appearance is fuss-free yet stylish, and what's more, they're modular by design, meaning they can slot together with separate storage compartments. Perfect for stashing garden accessories safely (and tidily) out of the way, keeping your plot clutter free. 

Adding a planter to your balcony fence or as part of your decking railing ideas is another clever way to maximise your floorspace.

11. Use a modern style to define zones

Greenville terrace trough on wheels Waitrose Garden

Terrace trough from Waitrose Garden

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

Choose trough planters and fill them with 
plants to zone different areas of the garden. Fill with tall blooms like Delphiniums, Acanthus mollis, hollyhocks or foxgloves for a modern way to border off seating areas, or part of your patio.

Plus, this contemporary design is on wheels, so moving it around is easy – meaning you can switch up the flow of your plot whenever you like.

12. Try a timeless look for a sophisticated style

Bathford rectangular planters Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Give a pathway a dose of vintage charm with reclaimed-style designs like these. Inspired by Victorian dolly buckets, they're made of fibre clay and are frost resistant to -20°C.

They're a fabulous choice for modern garden ideas and cottage garden ideas alike. Plant with varieties known for their scent, such as lavender or jasmine,
 or fill with smart clipped evergreens for a contemporary and structured look. Position 
a few lined up along a path or next to a doorway and enjoy the scent as you walk by. 

13. Grow tomatoes in a wooden trough planter

garden planter ideas: trough from forest garden

(Image credit: Forest Garden)

'Whatever you wish to grow, there's a planter to match' says Jenny Davis at Forest Garden. 'This season we've introduced an ingenious raised planter for tomato grow bags, which offers easy access to your crop and stops the unsightly grow bag staining your patio or deck.' And don't forget, we've got lots of tips on how to grow tomatoes in our guide.

'We also now have raised kitchen garden planters, which are ideal for plants such as herbs which have shallow roots,' Jenny adds. So, if raised beds are off the cards, then these make a wonderful alternative if you're keen for a bit of grow-your-own action.

14. Go for soothing hues

garden planter ideas: woodlodge blue and green pots

(Image credit: Woodlodge)

Classic pots in gorgeous deep-hued glazes will never go out of style. Try inky blue or calming greens for a soothing vibe. Then, plant up with soft white florals for a simple yet elegant look – our favourite picks include fairy-like gauras, silky-petalled Cosmos, or cascades of pretty Erigeron.

They're a perfect match for a more laid-back theme, and will look beautiful placed either side of one of our best garden benches.

15. Put a twist on terracotta with angular designs

garden planter ideas: stone pots

(Image credit: Woodlodge)

Terracotta planters are a classic look that can bring a sense of the sunny Mediterranean to any patio or porch. However, by opting for angular designs, the timeless style gets a modern update.

Try mix and matching different-sized rectangular shapes for added interest. A pleasing, peachy hue keeps the tone soft and welcoming.

And if you're feeling a little creative, you can upcycle some old terracotta pots instead – check out our guide on how to revamp and revive your terracotta pots in just five simple steps.

16. Add an on-trend look with rattan

garden planter ideas: rattan container from lime lace

(Image credit: Lime Lace)

Love a touch of rattan? This on-trend material isn't just great for garden furniture ideas, it's a lovely idea for planters, too.

Lightweight, textural, and totally chic in a light-grey hue, this design above would suit any small courtyard, patio space, or balcony. Planted up with vibrant Echinacea, it creates a stylish scene.

17. Use galvanised steel for a rustic vibe

garden planter ideas: metal pots from garden trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Perfect for lovers of a vintage style, galvanised steel planters such as these are a brilliant way to add a dose of old-fashioned charm to a plot. Positioned either side of a gate, door, or in this case, archway, they make a stunning feature – even more so once planted up with your favourite blooms.

The addition of handles not only adds an eye-catching detail, but makes them easier to move, should you wish.

18. Smarten up your front garden with stylish pots

Cararo self-watering trough and Cubico self-watering plant pot both Wayfair

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Arranged near the entrance to your home, these pots make a smart and stylish welcome to visitors, as part of your front garden ideas. Have one or two either side of a doorway and plant small trees, such as bay or olive, for an inviting entrance. Alternatively, they would make a lovely focal point by a water feature.

And the best part? They're another self-watering variety, giving you one less thing to worry about and more time to enjoy your garden. We have lots more time-saving tricks in our low maintenance garden ideas.

What is the best garden planter?

low maintenance garden ideas: container planting on steps

Set-up from Dobbies

(Image credit: Dobbies)

We asked the experts to share their advice on how to pick the best garden planter for your plot.

Michael Wooldridge, Director of Woodlodge, says, 'Firstly, it’s important to decide where the container will sit in your garden. Consider the shape, texture and colour of the pot, as well as the plants that will be in them.' 

Opt for a look that will complement the space. And, if you're planting a small tree such as an acer, for example, you'll need a larger pot than if you just want a few spring bulbs. On that note, we've got a guide to planting bulbs and advice on how to grow acers in your garden to help you get started with either.

'Terracotta is ideal for container planting as it's the most natural, environmentally-friendly material,' Michael continues. 'The higher the firing temperature, the more durable it will be to withstand the elements.' He suggests to gently tap the pot – the higher the note, the better the quality.  

In addition, make sure pottery is labelled 'frost-proof' to ensure it survives harsh weather and protects plants more effectively, he adds.

'If you move house regularly or want to change up the look of your garden in an instant, lighter or smaller pots are ideal,' Michael continues. 'Look out for fibreclay planters which are lightweight, allowing you to move your displays around.'

'Wooden, glazed or metal planters can also add a decorative touch, altering the persona of your garden from a traditional cottage feel to a contemporary, urban entertaining space.'

Another important thing to consider when choosing the best planter for your garden is drainage. As the team at LECHUZA says, 'the right amount of drainage can be a matter of life and death for your plants. Waterlogged soil causes a plant's roots to rot and is likely to kill it.'

'The minimum size for a drainage hole is half an inch in diameter for small or medium-sized pots, whilst larger pots will need holes at least an inch in diameter,' they say. However, if you've found a gorgeous container with no drainage holes, don't despair. If the pot you have doesn't have sufficient drainage, you can drill bigger holes in the base, the LECHUZA team says. Of course, for an easy option, you could always opt for one of their self-watering pots which have built-in irrigation systems.

Where can I find free planters for my garden?

pallet furniture ideas: herb garden

Upcycled pallets make great garden planters if you're on a budget

(Image credit: Oksana Aksenova/Getty Images)

If you're on a budget, then it might be easier than you think to find free planters for your garden. Lots of old garden and household bits and bobs can be upcycled to create stylish containers. For example, tyres are great for circular displays, Butler sinks planted up with pretty pansies add a vintage flair, or why not give a new lease of life to an old wheelbarrow with a lick of paint and some fresh new flowers? So start by taking a look around your own home, you might find something that can come in useful that would otherwise be thrown away. 

Pallets are another budget-friendly option for garden planter ideas and you can often find them for free. Take a look at our pallet furniture ideas to find out more.

You could also use hollowed-out tree stumps for a more natural look – our tree stump ideas are full of clever ways to make the most of them.

For more money-saving tips for your plot, head over to our budget garden ideas.

Sarah Wilson
Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson has been a lifestyle journalist for many years, writing about gardens since 2015. She's written for, Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, as well as Country Homes & Interiors and Modern Gardens magazines. 

Her own (small urban) garden is a work in progress  - so many ideas, not enough space to cram them in. Hero plants include her ever growing collection of ornamental grasses, black bamboo and ferns, and the perennials like salvias and penstemons that come back reliably year after year. All very restrained though when in fact she'd love to pack her garden with gaudy dahlias and giant cannas, so these are top of her wish list for what to grow next.