How To Create a 3-Tiered Planter

How To Create a 3-Tiered Planter

I've created several versions of this tiered planter, and it's one of my favorite projects. It's great at as a focal point in any garden, a welcoming planter at your entryway as in the pic above, or for gardeners who have limited space and need to garden vertically. It's easy, relatively inexpensive and can be completed in one afternoon. Now that's my kind of project! Here's what you need:

Choose three pots of graduating sizes; you might even have them on hand already. These are fairly large--the smallest one is 16" across. You'll also need potting soil, a variety of annuals in 4" pots,  one larger plant for the top planter, and bagged moss for finishing.

If you have a large plastic nursery pot, now is the time to invert it and place it in the bottom pot. This will provide stability for the two other pots, and avoid the expense of filling the largest pot with unnecessary potting soil. Cinderblocks or bricks will also work. Now stack your second pot in the center and fill the bottom pot with soil up to 4" from the top of the rim. Fill your second pot with soil about 4" from the top of the rim and, finally, place the top pot on the soil surface. You'll have this:

Now the fun starts! Take your 4" annuals out of their pots and carefully place them on the soil in the rings created around the base of each pot. Pack them in side-by-side, adding a bit of soil to make sure they're settled in. Finish off with small handfuls of moss tucked in and around the plants, and you have a stunning vertical planting that will look great for months:

This is the newest plant combination that I created this year: it still stays with the purple tones, but has a bit of white in the flowers for some punch. I like using two colors for maximum impact; but feel free to do your own thing! Good luck with your project, and let me know how it goes!

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  1. says

    Wish it wasn’t the middle of dang winter and there was minimal color choices around. I want to do one of these today!

  2. says

    Thanks, Kat & Kathleen! I’ve probably done 10 different variations on this project over the years because it’s so easy and fun to do. My plant cost on this was about $70, but being as it’s 3 planters-in-1, it seemed doable! Let me know if you try it–would love to see pics!

  3. says

    Great idea, Jenny! I wonder if strawberries would grow well in this arrangement. Might have to try and report back.

  4. says

    Hey Jenny, love the tiers, and looks easy enough to achieve. Succulent yes, that would be gorgeous among the clay pots too.. I can see it now ! Will have to try this come Spring, not to far away..

  5. says

    I’ve done this, too, Jenny!! Yours is LOVELY!

    It’s a terrific way to easily use vertical space in the garden (I’m actually talking about this in my new book :D)

    We need to chat again soon – will you be here for the SFGS this year?


  6. Diana says

    What a cool idea and looks great too! Can you please tell me if the water will drain from the pots okay? Won’t the nursery pots cover the drainage holes of the terracotta pots? Thanks. 🙂

  7. says

    Yes, the water will drain freely starting from the top pot. I’ve never had a problem with standing water or anything like that. Let me know if you try it or if you experience any problems!

  8. says

    Hi, just did this with blue and white plants to match my patio cushions. Love it, next time I would plant before adding the next pot it was a tight area but my plants were mature and had a large root system. A must do for a burst of vertical color anywhere!!!


  1. […] How To Create a 3-Tiered Planter — Austin Garden Design – J … Jan 8, 2011 … I've created several versions of this tiered planter, and it's one of my favorite projects. […]

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