Outdoor planters can transform almost any hard surface — a terrace, a balcony, even a stoop — into a garden.
But a hodgepodge of too many kinds of planters “can get to be a jumble, and look super-busy,” Ms. Farris said. So it’s important to start with a plan.
If your goal is to use greenery to define an outdoor space, it’s best to go with simple planters in similar materials. Ms. Farris sometimes uses long, rectangular Corten steel planters to create the architecture of a garden. Then she adds a few decorative pots for a softening touch and a sculptural element in the garden.
“Adding something with age or texture” — a planter with the look of rustic stone, she suggested, or a repurposed antique vessel — “is always appealing.”
Should you cluster multiple planters together? Yes, said Ms. Farris, who recommended varying the heights: “I gravitate toward clusters of three to five — like a large one with two smaller ones to the side.”
Can you combine different types of plants in a single container? Of course, but Ms. Farris prefers sticking with one type. “You can just see the form of the plant more easily, and appreciate its color and texture, if it’s alone,” she said.
How large should the planters be? They need to fit your space, but “bigger is actually better,” she said, because larger planters provide more space for root growth and natural protection in harsh weather.
Tree Hollow Planter
Cast-stone-and-resin planter resembling a tree trunk
$595 at Pennoyer Newman: 212-839-0500 or pennoyernewman.com
Nice Corten Steel Trough
Flat-pack weathering-steel planter
From about $290 at Nice Planter: 206-486-0936 or niceplanter.com
Cecilia Ficonstone Planters
Ribbed planters made from a lightweight frost-proof composite
From $179 at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or westelm.com
Powder-coated steel planter with stand, available in three heights
From $85 at Design Within Reach: 888-944-2233 or dwr.com