Types of container for gardening (frugal container garden)

Last Updated on March 4, 2020 by cmoarz

Hey all! So I’m going to go ahead and break down this question into several sections for easy categorization and ease of use. Please feel free to use the guide on the side to scroll threw the article to get to the part you would like to read about. Also keep in mind, everything in this article assumes you will be using a soil as a growing medium, rather than a hydroponic setup. If you would like to learn about the hydroponic options, check out our article on the subject here. So get ready to read about the types of container for gardening!


There are many different options of gardening containers to choose from, such as simple as wood and clay to as complex as cement and marble. Each different type has it’s own unique properties and reason for being used. To figure out what you want, first you have to determine if you are going to be growing outdoor, in a greenhouse, or indoors. This article will go threw the most common ones and the reasons people use these particular types.

The size of the container

When it comes to the sizing of the container you are looking to buy, you need to take into account what you will be growing in it. Each plant is unique and will have varying requirements for space, depth and drainage. In fact – Some plants may even need a specific type of container material as they might not do well with others.

The different types of container for gardening have a standard measure in North America and Europe. The first, and most common unit of measurement is gallons. This is what you will usually see in most gardening supply centers and other stores as well as if you are ordering online.

The second unit of measurement will be in inches. Inches are usually referring to the diameter of the pot itself, rather than the depth that gallons will usually convey.

If you check out this handy little chart you can see what size container you are going to need for the type of plant you are growing.

Credit to http://greyduckgarlic.com/ for creating this graph

The containers shape

Container Materials

Just like everything else in life there are a myriad of types of container for gardening. So many options to choose from that you won’t know where to even start. In fact, I’m willing to bet there are materials on this list that you’ve never even considered to be an appropriate container.

The frugal options

In my opinion, this is the best option for container materials. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “one mans trash in another mash treasure”. Well this is an exact use case for that statment.

You can literally turn anything you have into a beautiful and functional gardening container. There really is no reason to go out and buy some fancy containers, especialy when you are on a budget. So many options to choose from such as:

  • Old bottles (Pop bottles, milk containers, food containers etc)
  • Old buckets
  • Paint cans and other sorts of cans
  • Barrels
  • old garbage bins
  • a cut in half soccer ball
  • old rubber boots

Honestly the options really are endless and far too many to go into in this article. Use your imagination and you can come up with some really cool stuff. A couple important things to note thought, Make sure what ever container you use is “safe”, and make sure everything has been cleaned very well before use. Also view the above chart and make sure it’s big enough for what you are intending to plant in it.

The none frugal options

Plastic types of container for gardening
Plastic Pots

Plastic is one of the more common; Builders and landscapers love plastic pots for a wide variety of reasons: They are reusable, easy to care for, and offer appealing visual appeal. But what are the disadvantages of plastic pots? While they can be easy to care for, they can be susceptible to mold, as well as break down in the sun relativity quickly. so they can be costly to replace.

Plastic is normally a fine option but plastic pots come with a cost—they require a lot of energy, and water to produce. They are also very terrible for the environment. Given the short life span because of sun degradation, these should definitely be reserved for indoor use only. We have enough problems with too much waste plastic floating around as it is, so keep your pots wear free as long as possible, and you can get a decade out of them!

Ceramic types of container for gardening
Ceramic pots

The most common type of pot is the brown ceramic you see everywhere. They are cheap, and easy to mass produce. But they are very fragile and you will definitely end up breaking them eventually. Sometimes you will find they break for absolutely no obvious reason – Usually a rapid temperature shift, or too much pressure built up from the weight of the soil and root system of the plant.

As for the environmental impact, these pots are usually just made out of clay and a bit of glaze so should degrade relitivly fast with out much issue to the enviromoent and all the critters that live in it.

This is definitely the type of pot you would want outside rather than inside since the sun won’t break them down like it will to plastic. They are also significantly weighty.

Types of container for gardening wood

And of course, we can’t forget good ol’ wood. There isn’t much to say about wood. Make sure the pot or “trough” is not treated with any chemicals. Do keep in mind wood has a pretty short life span, and after a few seasons will become home to all sorts of critters, mold and potentially rot.

Of course this one has the least damage environmental impact of all and i would even wager is the cheapest option if you build them yourself.

As i said previously, there are so many types of container for gardening and really you can’t go wrong with the option you decide to choose.

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