Best Way to Use Troughs in Your Garden

Troughs are versatile and can be used in many ways on patios, terraces and balconies. They can also be secured to bland walls to create color. Here are a few ways to use them for instant, short-cut effects.

  • Position troughs at the edges of flat roofs. Use a combination of 15-20cm (6-8in) high plants and trailing types. Avoid tall plants, as these will be buffeted and damaged by strong wind.

Use Troughs Best Way to Use Troughs in Your Garden

  • Place troughs on low walls. Use loam-based compost to create a firmer base than peat types and, again, use a combination of low and trailing plants.
  • Position troughs at the edges of patios to create a low, false wall. Taller plants can be used with these ground-based troughs than when positioned on walls.
  • Place troughs at the sides of balconies; use plants up to 38cm (15m) high, together with trailing plants that can cascade through the railings and soften the often harsh outline of a balcony’s base.
  • Secure troughs to the sides of walls; use the same type of supporting brackets used to support windowboxes. Upright and cascading plants can be used.
  • Position troughs at the edges of formal ponds to soften their often clinical outlines. Use low and trailing plants.
  • Raising rustic, wooden troughs on 20cm (8in) high legs makes them more imposing and attractive.

Plants for troughs

The main types of plants used in troughs are those also planted in windowboxes, especially if the trough is raised and plants are able to cascade freely. Troughs on the ground, or raised only 5cm (2in), are best planted with upright and bushy plants.

Use Troughs 3 Best Way to Use Troughs in Your Garden

Color and shape combinations:

  • Summer display – For a flower and foliage medley use trailing ivy-leaved pelargoniums along the front and sides, interspersed with sweet alyssum. At the ends and in the middle, position small variegated sages, such as Salvia officinalis ‘Tricolor’, with the main color provided by the seed-raised Dahlia ‘Redskin’, which displays bright flowers and deep bronze-green leaves.
  • Winter display – This medley of evergreen and flowering plants creates color throughout winter. Plant a young juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbour’ at one end, with the mound-like Hebepinguifolia ‘Pagei’ at the other. Between them, plant a small rosemary and Erica camea ‘Springwood White’.

Culinary herbs

Troughs on patios provide ideal homes for many culinary herbs, especially relatively low-growing types. Herbs to use include:

  • Chives have green, tubular leaves and star-shaped blue flowers.
  • Thyme has a trailing nature and is ideal for positioning at the edges of troughs. For added color, try the golden-leaved thyme.

Use Troughs 1 Best Way to Use Troughs in Your Garden

  • Parsley, raised annually from seeds, is best left in its pot and just placed in the trough.
  • Mint has invasive roots and is another herb best left in a pot and placed in a trough.
  • Balm has a refreshing bouquet to its leaves. Use the golden balm for extra color.

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