Planters – Not Just For Plants Anymore!

Container Gardening

This blog post about things to put in planters besides plants was last updated September 2023.

Things to put in planters besides plants

Our Chateau Outdoor Planters are a great add-on to any outdoor garden.

Planters are one of the most useful and versatile outdoor accessories we can think of, especially if you want to add impact without spending a lot of money.

From aged urns to colorful clay pots to classic window boxes, planters provide pretty texture and color for your favorite outdoor spot. Plus, they’re easily portable so you can rearrange and repurpose them to meet your needs of the moment.

There’s no need to be too matchy-matchy when it comes to containers. A mix of vintage and new pots in a variety of finishes and sizes adds loads of visual appeal. All that’s important is creating a great place to gather this summer.

Here are our top 5 uses for our favorite planters:


Container GardeningNot a gardener? Use a few potted containers to create lush, easy-to-maintain landscaping for your outdoor space all season long. A mix of foliage plants and flowers provide instant color—just choose the palette to suit your site.

Container Garden Tips:

  • Create a combination of thriller, filler and spiller plants. A thriller is a bold plant that creates height, a filler is a mounding, billowy plant and a spiller is a low trailing plant that spills out of the sides toward the ground.
  • Consider texture and color combinations. Do you want bold contrast or a subtle, harmonious blend?
  • Make sure all of the plants are either shade lovers or require sunlight, depending on the location of your planter.
  • Think about presentation when choosing number of plants. Will the planter be seen from all sides or just one?


Kitchen Herb Garden

Or, create a feast for the senses with potted herbs. Aromatic herbs such as mint, lavender, basil and rosemary infuse the air with their natural scents and enhance your favorite dishes.


Poolside Storage

Lounging poolside is one of summer’s great pleasures. Make it even more relaxing for you and your guests by placing swim-and-sun essentials at arm’s reach. Place planters filled with towels, flip-flops, sunscreen and hats nearby in your planters.

Planters are an attractive, weatherproof alternative to woven baskets or unsightly plastic tubs.


Beverage HolderThe season calls for outdoor entertaining, from brunch to sunset cookouts. Use planters as makeshift beverage tubs and place them in convenient gathering spots—by the grill, pool or a seating area—and keep the drinks flowing.


Side Table

If you want to create an inviting gathering space, don’t forget the accent table. You can place candles or magazines on top and give guests a place to rest plates and drinks. Make a table with your favorite planter by placing a sturdy top over it. Here, we used our glass tabletop protector from the Terrific Trio. Voilà!

Defining an Area

Planters are a great design tool because you can use them to define a space. Create a cozy conversation area or direct a natural flow of traffic to and from the patio with a row of planters. Trees potted in containers are great for blocking off a workstation or hiding an unsightly area.  Just remeber, when grouping containers together, stagger heights for the biggest visual impact.

Container Garden Tips

Out faux boxwood balls are a great way to bring a life-like look to a planter without worrying about sunlight or watering.

Have we inspired you to dig out those old planters and start using them? And if you’re in need of more, you can find containers at flea markets, yard sales, hardware stores and here. When you find a particular style you like, stock up! You can never have too many planters.

Did you like this blog post about decorating with planters? Check out a few of our other decorating posts on the same topic:

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply

    Marty Bardzel

    May 15, 2018

    Great ideas. Thank you for sharing
    Keep sending more. Need to revamp my place. Love container gardening and all your ideas
    Going to put you in a special file.
    Happy Summer?

  2. Reply

    Janette Eaton

    October 11, 2017

    I absolutely love your creative ideas.
    I’ve been a follower for years.
    After reading this post there was mention that your company offers decorating assistance. HELP. I purchased a vivid pasley rug for our enclosed lania .I want to create an additional room. I’m stuck can I receive some suggestions, ie pattern chices, furniture, lighting (lamp) accent wall color. .etc. Thank you

  3. Reply


    April 12, 2017

    Sorry, your title is misleading. I don’t want any plants and am looking for ideas using no plants.

  4. Reply


    February 15, 2017

    I need something for my candy-red planter that sits under an overhang and gets zero sun. Any ideas? I like contemporary ideas. I am not into “cute”. Thanks!

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 5, 2017

      We would love to help you with a design solution! We offer a free design service in which our interior design team helps pick out furniture, accessories, and fabric. Just send your question and a picture of the space here, and a designer will reach out to you with a design plan!

      • Valerie Nelson

        June 26, 2018

        i have some hanging planters that have “strawlike stuff” in them, what can i put in them besides flowers? These are hanging up on my deck.

      • Caroline McDonald

        August 14, 2018

        What about some ferns? Simple, classic, and vibrant!

  5. Reply


    August 16, 2011

    great ideas we certainly will use them

  6. Reply

    Tara Villani

    July 8, 2011

    Great ideas! I love items with multiple uses!

  7. Reply


    June 28, 2011

    i love planters and your ideas and definatly are gunna try them. i have some big planters around the pool with flowers in them and i place an umbrella in it and it is so beautiful and also shades my sun sensitive plants as well

  8. Reply

    Maureen Clary

    June 14, 2011

    As always, I enjoy new ideas that continually come from Ballards. Thanks so much!!
    I also use planters for other things: store magazines/books by the pool, kids pool toys, festive container for trash at pool parties, quick-set-up bar (put 2 tall containers, fill w/rock or sand and then add a precut piece of heavy tin, acrylic or wood. I usually create two (one for kids; one for adults).

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      June 14, 2011

      Maureen: Some great ideas! We love that you found other ways to use our planters. Way to go, Maureen…
      The Style Studio Team

  9. Reply

    Teresa Loop

    June 14, 2011

    I love the idea of putting rolled up towels in a planter! I have a small deck and a spa that desperately needed a fresh idea like this!

    • Reply

      Ballard Designs

      June 14, 2011

      Teresa: We love the idea of the planter used as a towel bin. Not only does it look great – but it keeps the towels from getting wet!
      The Style Studio Team

  10. Reply


    June 14, 2011

    Great ideas! Some of these I have never thought of! Thanks so much!

  11. Reply

    Cheryl Marandola

    June 14, 2011

    I absolutely love your products. The displays are just beautiful. Keep up the good work.

  12. Reply


    June 14, 2011

    I LOVE container gardening and have alot of planters on my front porch and back deck! These are wonderful ideas for other uses for planters too! Thanks!!!!