Using Stoneware and Concrete Containers in the Garden

Stone Containers add a traditional look
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In this article, we will be discussing what stone and concrete containers can be used in the garden as we continue our journey in the materials of construction that can be used. So far I have talked about terracotta, plastic, wooden and glazed pottery and the next logically material to highlight is stone, cement and concrete, a totally different kettle of fish to the others.


Stone Containers add a traditional look
Stone Containers add a traditional look

The biggest problem with real stone containers such are horse troughs, animal feeding bowls and Butler’s sinks are they are not manufactured anymore. They are true garden antiques and they are prohibitively expensive. To buy one you must be a true devotee to real stone in the garden.

If you can find one and you have the resources, then they really do add any extra dimension to the container garden. They make excellent containers for alpines or other rock plants, which suits the rough design.


The next best attractive are reconstituted stone containers but these are also very expensive. They are usually formed into classic container shapes and tend to have a more polished look than real stone. As the price is very expensive they are restricted to small-sized containers.


On the other hand, containers cast in concrete and cement are a better, cheaper option and are available in a huge range of sizes and styles from formal troughs and urns to less formal designs.

Because the material is cheap, it can be used to make cement planting boxes for areas without any suitable soil. This can be largely hidden by growing tumbling plants around the edge if you require it.

The great thing about cement is that it can be artificially weathered to resemble real stone. Cement is also easier to mould into various shapes and therefore theoretically you can make your own, especially if you construct a mould for it.

The main disadvantage of cement containers and concrete one is that they are so heavy to move. You will need a crane to physically move them. The other disadvantage is that if you like the grey you are in luck either this or you will have to do something about altering the colour. This is generally not a hindrance as it is possible to get moss or lichen to grow on the surface of the container or you can paint them a more interesting colour.


One interesting container can be made if you mix equal qualities of coarse sand, peat and cement, as you can create hypertufa (this will be discussed in a future article). It can be used to pour into moulds to make a quick and easy, artificial stone-effect container.


Cast cement container can be made to any design you like. You can even put faces on them, to create interesting characters, such as angels or you can make your own elaborate designs.

 Stone urns, on the other hand, look great on formal terraces. It is best to plant with traditional pastel-coloured annuals, such as pelargoniums, Lobelia and verbenas.


Reconstituted stone containers are particularly good for classical shapes that resemble stone carvings and it will be cheaper than a real stone container. If you are after a classical look in your garden then these types of stoneware are for you.

You can use reconstituted stone to make a classical urn with a plinth, which will be cheaper than if you use real stone. The design will be more elaborate and a pair of these containers would make a grand entrance to a house or driveway.

If you are looking for a home for your alpines then a genuine stone Butler’s sink makes an effective container to grow these plants in, along with rock plants. You can see it as creating a miniaturized landscape, with a gritty top dressing acting as a decoration and also to provide surface drainage.


Concrete can be shaped into geometrical shapes that can be moulded quite easily. You can go for hexagon, pentagons or any other shape that you wish to use. This will add an extra dimension and interest to the arrangement of plants you can have in your garden. A material of construction that is both versatile and practical.

You can buy or make wall planters that have faces on them or use concrete wall planter that has twist effects.  In these designs, it will look great using a simple planting scheme that emphasises the shape of the container. As space is limited make each plant that you use count.


As concrete and stone are extremely weatherproof they can be used outdoors all year round. This makes them suitable for evergreen shrubs and perennials. As said earlier classical stoneware container look best when planted formally and orderly.

Use Daboecia cantabrica, late-flowering heather, potentilla, a dwarf sun-loving shrub with flowers that are orange, red and yellow, patio roses that flower all summer, hebe that have many colourful varieties, Armeria maritima that will tolerate an exposed location and sempervivum that provides a drought-proof plant, or sedum spurium that proves tough, beautiful flowers.

You have so many choices to what will look good, so let your imagination run wild.


In this article, we have discussed what stoneware, concrete and cement containers can be used in the garden. As you can see you have a large choice of what can be used from real stone, reconstituted stone, concrete and cement. Real stone is rare and expensive, whilst concrete and cement is cheap,

It can be seen as the most versatile materials, as concrete and cement can be moulded to any shape and design you wish to make. They can have any patterns on the container itself, so you can be as plain or elaborate depending on your personal taste.

You have plenty of choice of containers and plenty of plants that can go within them, so the designs can be complex or simple as you want it to be. You can even make your own moulds and therefore containers, so you can be totally unique as you want to be.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make, please do so in the comment box below.

Be adventurous and use stoneware, concrete and cement in your container garden.


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