Why the Number 3 is Perfect for Desert Container Gardens

A Collection of 3 pots for a summer desert planting The Potted Desert

A collection of 3 pots for a summer desert planting The Potted Desert

Does your designer often specify grouping objects in three’s even in your desert container gardens?  

Do you ever ask yourself why?  

It comes down to our brain. We like to pair things up. When we look at several items, we rationally try to put them together in two’s. When we create a group of three, the eye is trying to find the pair, so it keeps moving. This movement creates a flow and continual motion of our designs. Hence in a garden where our ‘art’ is living and breathing, we want to enhance that movement. Creating an odd number of pots in a group does the trick! 

Two Pots Can Create a formal look at an entry to your home

Pots Have Their Rightful Place

Many homes in the desert are single-story and run long lines across your lot. Bordering walls are long and straight with square corners. Some newer, high-end homes have curved walls breaking up the square enclosure. Your landscape choices can do a lot to break up the monotony of the boring linear hardscape but pots can add much interest too.

A Formal Look

To create a formal or contemporary look, place your pots symmetrically around the focal point. Even numbers, arranged as pairs will form a structure that comes across more powerfully. Two pots placed on opposite sides of a front gate or entry will lure your guests to your front door, showing them the entrance.

These pots to the left are filled with a single Yellow Daisy Bush (Euryops) and Red Geraniums. The planting is very mature. The Daisy was planted in the fall and the geraniums in the early spring in Oro Valley Arizona. The Geraniums will ‘peter’ out in the heat of the summer and be replaced with true summer annual flowers. ~ Marylee

When Odd Numbers Come Into Play

How does the odd number of pots help in our desert landscape design? Long walls that go on endlessly need to be broken up into sections. Containers will help create segments or vignettes. Use round pots to cut the linear appearance of the wall. Square pots will accentuate the lines.

Two Pots Are out

Where 2 Does Not Cut It

These two pots obviously are not right against this wall. They stop us dead in our tracks. By adding a third pot—round in shape—and twisting the squares to change the angles, the result is much more appealing. Now you see the garden rather than the wall. 

Your First Step 

When you are ready to redesign an area and want to decide about adding some pots, place some large objects where you think you might like to position the pots. Trash cans, propane tanks and buckets will serve you well without breaking your back to get an idea of what you like.

Once you think you have it, go pot shopping with my mantra –”bigger is better!” If your pots are going to be in full desert summer sun, choose pots that are at least 22” in diameter. These pots are more significant than they appear on this long wall. The homeowner is just getting started with a desert container garden and wanted to start small. My motto is you can always add more!

3 Pots break up the long wall

Two pots against a wall in a desert back yard The Potted Desert

The larger pots of this trio have pale yellow Petunias, a dot of red from a Pacifica Vinca and chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine. The shorter pot has red and white Vinca, purple Summer Snaps (Angelonia and Convolvulus (a type of Morning Glory) trailing in the front. This was planted in the late summer when flower choices become more difficult in the desert heat. However, all the plants will do well through the fall until temperatures go below 45. The Sweet Potato Vine will be the first to succumb to the cold. ~ Marylee


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