Tips to Secure Outdoor Planters

When I worked for another interiorscaping company, there was a hospital we serviced in the heart of downtown. At that location, the plant containers were literally chained to the ground, and that still didn’t prevent some from walking away. I would find holes in the interior atriums where plants were ripped out, and it definitely wasn’t the service tech removing dead material. For the hospital, stolen plants weren’t a high priority. But we did our best to secure the outdoor planters.

In my interiorscape experience, stolen plants are a rarity. However, there have always been a few locations where it occurs more regularly. As a result, I’ve had to develop creative solutions to keep plants and containers from being taken. 

Cement

Cement is one semi-permanent option to theft proof your containers and secure them from stormy weather.  For one suburban office park, I had redesigned some of the exterior areas with container groupings, small decorative boulders and gravel. 

Before I mixed the concrete, I dug out square sections of the ground about an inch or two wider than the container base at a three-inch depth. Then I placed the containers in the holes and poured the wet concrete into the gaps. I let it harden overnight and came back the next day to cover the ugly cement with gravel and add the plants. You couldn’t tell the containers were locked in cement until you tried to remove them.  

If you use this method to secure outdoor planters, you have to make sure it’s not going to rain, otherwise the concrete might not set correctly and you’ll be left with a big wet mess. This works best in a plant bed where you can hide the gray concrete ring with some ground cover.

Adding Weight

The heavier you make a container, the less likely someone is going to put in effort to remove it. To secure outdoor planters, I’ll add a thick layer of rock at the bottom. With smaller pots, this may be difficult since it will take away the amount of soil you need for happy plant roots to grow and stay moist.  

If security is a concern, using a tall container with a narrow top or one that is the next larger size can offer extra room for a rock layer.  

Another advantage to adding weight to the bottom of exterior planters, especially if the container material is lightweight plastic, is keeping the pots upright in strong winds. Tapered containers tend to be more unstable in windy conditions, so using a square or rectangle shape in these areas will withstand the force much better.

I found this out the hard way with one of my high-rise locations next to a large river.  Even on a normal day, I would find the tapered planters knocked over because the tall buildings along the riverbank acted like a wind tunnel. Eventually, the pots had to be moved to an outside corner in order for them to stay upright.

Wheels

I have some clients that want the ability to move their exterior plants inside at night or during select times of the year. Some of these buildings were downtown and were located in tourist areas where large outdoor events would leave plants and containers damaged. 

The option to bring in plants during select times due to foot traffic or weather, is a big benefit to some clients. 

In these instances, I like to use containers with wheel options. The Lechuza Cararo and Independence Harrison planters are a couple types I often suggest, and have found adding wheels is easy and works well. The container material is also lightweight which makes it easier to be mobile. 

If your client’s containers aren’t constructed with built in wheels, there are plant coasters that can be purchased separately. I’ve also had custom made wood platforms with casters attached on the bottom.  

When purchasing a caddy or caster, a locking mechanism on the wheels will help save a lot of grief. 

For containers with wheels, make sure the location is level. I had one paved area a client wanted mobile pots and when I tried to install, the pots kept tipping over. To the eye, it looked level. In reality, the paver deck dipped making it impossible to keep the containers standing. Now, I keep a level in my car to make sure the space is truly even instead of just eyeing it. 

Though missing plants and containers should be a rare occurrence, creative solutions can help make sure they stay put. What other creative solutions have you used to secure outdoor containers?

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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