If you’re thinking of greening up your terrace or balcony with beautiful planting, lightweight pots and compost will ease your mind by helping to combat challenges, such as weight restrictions.
Terracotta, ceramic and stone planters are classic choices for pots, however they can be heavy. The good news is there is a wide range of lightweight options available, which are also easier to move around. Fibreglass pots are much lighter than materials like terracotta and come in a range of different sizes, colours and styles from contemporary to rustic. They are also resistant to weather extremes, which means they don’t crack or warp, and are well- insulated so the roots of plants don’t get too hot.
Resin weighs about a tenth less than stone materials, which means you can use big planters on roof terraces. It is non-porous and comes in a range of looks, including faux stone, terracotta and granite with the colour blended into them so they don’t tend to fade. Good quality plastic and plastic-blends from companies such as Europlanters make a good choice and look like real stone. Lightweight concrete or cement blends are also good for contemporary spaces. These are often more durable and better at coping with weather extremes without cracking. Metal planters made of corten (weathering) steel or galvanised steel lighter than terracotta, are another option.
You’ll need to bear in mind that a planter is going to increase in weight when soil and plants are added, especially when they’re wet. So, look out for specifically-mixed lightweight composts with added LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate). And consider a drainage layer of something like polystyrene or LECA.
When it comes to the plants, those with needle-like or small leaves such as olives, lavender, santolina and pine tend to have been adapted to cope with wind and sun. Plants such as phormiums and palms which have waxy cuticles to prevent them drying out too much are also good choices. Mediterranean planting, such as ornamental grasses, salvia, thymes, oregano, nepeta, lavender, erigeron and euphorbias, should all cope with wind and sun. Plants in containers on balconies and terraces will need to be kept well-watered: consider irrigation as compost dries out in the wind and heat. Then get your furniture out for al fresco drinking and dining and enjoy your garden on high.