Planters reduce impervious cover (impenetrable surfaces, such as concrete, sidewalks, parking lots, etc.) by retaining stormwater runoff rather than allowing it to directly drain into nearby sewers and creeks. Planters offer “green space in tightly confined urban areas by providing a soil/plant mixture suitable for stormwater capture and treatment. They can be used on sidewalks, parking areas, back yards, rooftops and other impervious areas.

Contained Planters

Contained planters are used for planting trees, shrubs and ground cover. The planter is either prefabricated or permanently constructed and has a variety of shapes and sizes. Planters may range from large concrete planters to potted plants arranged on an impervious surface. Planters can be placed on impervious surfaces like sidewalks, back yards, rooftops, or along the perimeter of a building in order to catch stormwater runoff from the roof. Contained planters may drain onto impervious surfaces through holes in their base or by an overflow structure so the plants do not drown during larger rain events.

Plants should be hardy and self-sustaining native species with little need for fertilizers or pesticides. Planters can be made of stone, concrete, brick, wood or any other suitable material. However, treated wood should be avoided if it leaches any toxic chemicals.

Planters can be permanently fixed in place or easily moved around to enable you to change the look of the planter garden that you have created. Numerous manufactured pots and planters are available at your local hardware or landscaping store. You can create a “do-it-yourself” planter to use recycled items to create planters. Homemade planters may be constructed by stacking and fastening wood beams or laying and mortaring stones. There are many websites with detailed instructions to help with this type of project, such as,, plantersgalore

Creating a Contained Planter

  • Purchase planters at the local hardware or landscaping store, if you are not building your own planter box.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of the planter if they are not already there.
  • Fill the planter with soil and leave a 12 inch area from the soil to the top of the planter.
  • Choose native drought and saturation tolerant plants and trees to plant in the planter.
  • Occasionally turn or till soil to improve infiltration.