The Q&A Archives: Container Gardening

Question: I bought a house on a lake. It's a beautiful spot with lots of all-day sun. The house is built on a stone bulkhead and has virtually no soil to grow anything. I need some ideas on creative ways to have a garden using boxes, barrels, etc. etc. My priorities for growing are first herbs, then flowers and other beautiful plants.

Answer: My first suggestion is to find a good guidebook, such as "The Creative Container Gardener" by Elaine Stevens (10 Speed Press; ISBN# 0-89815-697-1). She covers the basics and inspires you to use your imagination as well! And even though the area is exposed to full-day sun, if you wish to create nooks of shade, you can grow tall, sun-tolerant plants to shade the more delicate. You can use most anything to contain your garden, but I caution against treated woods (creosoted railroad ties, pressure treated wood) and tires, all of which have the potential to contaminate soil and plants - and even you. One water-conserving option Ms. Stevens' book doesn't mention is water-absorbing polymer crystals (marketed as Hydrosource or Terra-Sorb) that hold water in the soil for plants' later use. If you have more questions after reading her book, let us know! And check out the website at
for other ideas, too. Enjoy!

« Click to go to the homepage

» Ask a question of your own

Q&A Library Searching Tips

  • When singular and plural spellings differ, as in peony and peonies, try both.
  • Search terms are not case sensitive.

Today's site banner is by mcash70 and is called "Moss on a log"