Architects, interior designers, and landscape architects are charged with creating spaces that enliven, inspire, are sustainable, and manageable. This design helps businesses gain clients, five-star reviews, and uninterrupted seasons of success.
Greenery is one way to elevate an average space to an upscale space, much like trees elevate the heart and mind when hiking through a forest of evergreens.
But if you choose the wrong shape for your commercial planter, even the most beautiful greenery will struggle to elevate the space.
The wrong shape affects both the intended design and the health of the greenery. In this article, we’ll examine important considerations when choosing a planter shape for your unique planting plans.
What Is a Planting Plan?
Every project begins with a plan.
A planting plan is simply a construction document that illustrates the location, quantity, and any other characteristics of the vegetation that will be in this particular landscape.
The best planting plans are easy to read and understand.
Planter Considerations for Your Planting Plan
There are a few considerations that one must look at when deciding on the right shape of planter. They are as follows:
- The planting plan
- The reasons for adding greenery to the space
- The type of foliage used
The planting plan that is designed for these desired spaces will dictate the shape of the planters required. Some reasons for adding greenery are: to divide spaces between outdoor eating areas and city sidewalks, to add interest to a long bare hallway, flake islands of seating areas, or add a point of interest to draw customers towards the check-in desk.
The Planting Plan
The objective of the planting plan is to drive choices that deliver the best outcome. So naturally, planters are one of those critical choices.
Just as choosing plants is important, it’s equally important to carefully select the right planters to create the right look and feel for each unique planting plan.
Reasons for Adding Greenery to the Space
When choosing a planter shape, it’s important to consider the reason you decided to add greenery in the first place. Then consider the shape that will help achieve that objective.
Perhaps you’ve added greenery for purposes of making a large space more intimate or directing foot traffic. In this case, you might choose a rectangular planter.
But if your intent is to add drama and interest to a space, you might opt for an irregular-shaped planter — like an oval or twisted shape — instead.
The Type of Foliage Used
To determine the optimal shape of your planter, it’s important to consider the type of foliage as well. Different foliage will require different planter shapes and depths. Whether you use filler or not will also determine which planter will provide the best results.
First, determine planter depth needs. On average, most plants need 12 inches of soil to thrive. For the best results, find out how long the roots for your specific plants grow.
Then, decide if you’ll use a filler. Because of gravity, the wettest part of the soil will be near the bottom of the pot. By using a filler, you can elevate the water table to where the roots will best be able to reach the water. To learn more about filling a planter click the link to our article: How to properly fill a planter.
If you’re planting a tree in a larger planter, the typical ratio of filler to soil is 1:4 or 1:3 of the pot to be filler and the remaining space for soil.
For large plants, it’s also important to consider the stability of the planter and whether reinforcements are needed.
Shape plays a role in greenery arrangement and how easy care will ultimately be.
Square containers make watering easy and provide more volume and surface area for a denser planting plan than round pots. So larger plants that like regular watering would be a good fit.
Rectangular containers create a linear look for planting even rows of flowers, vegetables, bushes, or hedges.
Custom-built round containers satisfied the need of Scan Design, a client of ours in Florida, who requested that we create a lid for the planters that would be able to be removed and also allow a tree to grow through the center.
One thing we know for sure is that form follows function. Choosing the right material in the right shape is critically important.
Below we’re outlining the three most common planter materials:
Powder-coated aluminum planters are low-maintenance and lightweight. They can withstand extreme weather conditions as well as high-traffic areas. You can find aluminum planters in a variety of sizes, shapes, and configurations. Although powder-coated aluminum planters are typically more expensive than fiberglass, they will last longer than a fiberglass planter, and the powder-coating will not fade as soon as the paint used on fiberglass will. Aluminum works well in all indoor and outdoor applications. Plus it works especially well on rooftops or places where the overall weight of the planter, plant, and filler is a consideration.
Fiberglass is more restrictive when it comes to custom shapes but not color. To customize a fiberglass planter, the manufacturer must first make a new mold. This makes the wait time for the planter much longer (up to 14 to 16 weeks) than for a customized powder-coated aluminum planter. But if wait time is not a problem, and the desired shape cannot be done in metal, fiberglass is the material of choice. When it comes to color the sky is the limit. Choose the shape you desire at puremodern.com and let us know what custom color or stocked color you desire.
COR-TEN weathering steel planters can be cut into any angular geometric shape. Round shapes aren’t possible, however. The really beautiful thing about COR-TEN is that it patinas beautifully with exposure to the climate.
For bigger and taller plants, pick a container with a wider base and straight sides. Square planters and rectangular planters will work well, and so will reverse-tapered planters that are wider at the base than the top.
To secure top-heavy plants, the type of planter material is also important. Lightweight and durable fiberglass planters will generally do the trick. But, if you are concerned about high winds and top-heavy plants consider adding anchoring bolts to the bottom of the planters which can be done with aluminum planters or COR-TEN weathering steel planters during manufacturing for spaces when a subbase is available to bolt to.
Image from The Towers. Photography by Dennis Mayer.
Common Planter Shapes
Rectangular Planter :Other names for this common planter shape are trough, divider, box planter, and wall planter. The long linear lines of the rectangular planter are perfect for directing foot traffic, lining a boring wall of a hallway, or dividing spaces with living plants that provide needed oxygen in an interior workspace.
Square Planter: Also known as a cube planter, this geometric shape is perfect for adding interest next to the front door as a singleton or in multiples gracing a driveway. This planter shape also works as a tower in various heights to add interest to a corner or focal point in a drab concrete space.
Round Planter: This planter will either have straight sides like a cylinder or can be seen tapered. This shape can look more traditional with a tapered side or have more of a geometric look with straight sides depending on your specified design style. The round planter looks great all on its own next to an entrance or in a group of three to draw the eye
Unique Planter Shapes
If a simple round, rectangular, or square shape is not suitable for your design, then look to the following shapes in fiberglass and aluminum.
Below are a few examples that are available.
Oval Planter: Add this planter for a dramatic look for any restaurant looking to add greenery.
Twisted Planter: Need to add a visual punch to your drab space? These are so unique that only a few are needed. Twisted planters are perfect for a small budget.
Rectilinear Shaped Planter: With straight sides and right angles, this complex planter often looks like two rectangles that have been joined together to create interest.
Modular Planters: The Connect Modular Planter System is best used for adding foliage to a well-designed space that requires a long, continuous planter. There are a few options for creating a green wall with the Connect Modular Planter System.
Custom planters with benches. From Westfield Valencia Mall project. Photography by client.
Planters with Benches
Adding a sitting spot to an interior or exterior space can be done with one designed product at PureModern. We can fabricate and finish your complete design that includes not only a growing area for greenery but also a resting spot for reflection.
Check out the bench and planter combo (pictured above) designed by CORGEN for the Valencia Town Center Mall Valencia Ca. and powder-coated in weathered rust custom finish to look like COR-TEN.
When stagnant water sits in the bottom of a planter, that water can cause the plant’s roots to rot and die. While you can use solutions to mitigate stagnant water, bottomless planters allow for free-flowing drainage. And they come in any shape!
Other Drainage Solutions
No matter what shape planter you choose, drainage is always important for the health of your plants. Consider these options for any shape planter:
Plant Sippers capitalize on a plant’s own natural capillary action. Sippers deliver water and nutrients throughout the roots, causing plants to require 80% less water.
EZ Fill-Ter Bags facilitate drainage by filling your planters in lieu of heavy soil or stones. Plus, these bags provide a natural filtration system.
Consider Custom Planters
There is no one-shape-fits-all formula for creating the perfect commercial space. For some projects, you may need custom planters. This way, you can tailor a solution that meets your exact requirements.
You might be surprised by the wide array of customization options out there — including materials, shapes, and finishes.
To determine which custom planter best fits your needs, think about where and how the planters will function.
Determine the Application of Your Custom Planters
Custom planters are suitable for both indoor and outdoor spaces. They can be nestled into spaces such as verandas, entryways, patios, and surprisingly even stairs.
Consider what purpose the planter will serve. Different designs will facilitate different functionality.
- Separate dining spaces in a restaurant
- Create privacy on a hotel rooftop deck
- Designate a pathway to large dinner buffets
- Bring a touch of color to a pool deck
Meet Exact Specifications
Custom planters can be designed to fit your specifications precisely within a ⅛ of an inch.
Especially with rooftop applications, a “Fit the Space” solution is critical. This way, when each planter is moved to its final location — whether slid into position or fit between seating — the planter will be ‘spot on’ with the dimensions.
When a large planting area is in need of terracing use retaining edging. This custom solution will add visual appeal while providing enhanced functionality for growing your plants. The edging can be stabilized using gussets when taller heights are required.
This option is great for when a large open planting bed is specified, there is a need to keep costs low, existing subbase is suitable to grow plants or trees, multiple terraces of foliage have been specified.
Shop drawing 150 Charles project.
Beautiful and well-balanced landscape design hinges on shape and form. Choosing the right planter shape impacts the planting plan as much as the health of the greenery.
We hope you’ll use the information in this article to achieve your ultimate vision. Don’t see the planter shape you’re looking for? When it comes to the shape specified for your planting plan, we truly can fabricate it in aluminum or COR-TEN. We can also use automotive paint to paint a fiberglass planter to your desired color.
Click here to request a quote or view our custom planter page to learn more about available options.