Adrienne Leigh Photography
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Freelance photographer, mother of two average children and one above average husband. Trying to bring no fuss sophistication to the inelegant art of motherhood.  

Style Tips: Summer Planters

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Summer has arrived to Evanston!   As I crawl out of my winter hibernation it's the time for all things new.  My wardrobe needs a spring refresh and so does the front of my house.  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out what to put in the planters so I thought I’d break down how I go about styling a gorgeous summer planter.


Step 1: Let their be light

Before you can even begin to think about design or what plants to purchase check to see how much light the planters will receive.  This could be anywhere from full shade to full sun.  Pay attention to how many hours of sunlight they will get.  Keep in mind, maybe they get full sun in the spring but when the leaves come in they will become part shade.  For my planters I require part sun to shade tolerant plants.

Step 2 : Style & Color

Once you determine the amount of light the planters will receive, the next step is to think about style.   Look at the area around the containers, is there a tree you’d like to compliment? What color is your house or the planters themselves?  Is your home Traditional, Modern, Mediterranean? The answers to all of these questions will help you focus your attention when at the garden center.  Ok I can see I lost some of you. No worries. Think of a place you love: maybe it's the french countryside so you could use lavender and rosemary for a romantic entrance.  Prairie more your thing? Bring in wild flowers and grasses. And it doesn't even need to be as focused as this. My favorite color is deep wine so this year I decided to start with only this in mind and build around that.

Step 3: Size Matters

Last thing to do before heading to shop is to measure the planters so you have an idea how much area you are working with.

Step 4: Shop it out

I recommend heading to your local garden center rather than home improvement store.  The selection will be greater and I find the staff at local centers to be very knowledgeable. When arriving at the store the plants will be broken up by perennial and annual and shade vs. sun.  For planters, I tend to stick with annuals since I switch them out multiple times a year.  Since I needed shade plants I follow signs pointing me to “shade annuals”. Here is where it starts to get fun.  Browse the aisles and see what your choices are.  See what you're drawn towards. I start by looking for my statement piece.  This year I went with Purple Fountain Grass. The grass will add height to the container and wonderful movement in the wind as the season progresses.  

Pro tips

Texture and Height:

To really bring the planters to life think about bringing in a variety of different textures and dimensions. This can be done through height, leaf size as well as plant variety.

Make it Last:

Buying plants can really add up so you want to make sure the planters you do create will look beautiful for at least an entire season. I like my summer planters to last me through until I change them out for winter.  To accomplish this I use flowers with a very long bloom period and plants that will grow and drape their way down the planters as the season progresses.  

Remember: Shopping should be fun!

Play around with the plants while you’re at your local garden center.  Find one type that you love and build around that.

Final Step: Get your hands dirty.

Start by arranging the plants still with their pots in the planter.  As you can see Neva was my gardening assistant...or maybe I was hers...Once you’ve come up with a design that you like you can begin to plant. After they are all in the planters give them a drink of water and you’re good to go. 

I hope this helps you have the confidence to put together beautiful unique planters of your own.  Remember there is no right way to be creative.  Play around and have fun. 

See a full list of plants used in the comment section below.  Also, show me your creation by tagging #mysummerplanters on instagram. I can't wait to see what you got! Happy Planting!

xo- Adrienne