Creating Gardens That Look Great Year-Round

Join us on Saturday March 24, 1:00pm at Atlas Pots for a special presentation by gardener Paul Scheffer.

Paul Scheffer is a Vancouver-based gardener with over 20 years experience. His background includes art school and working in the film industry. Paul creates gardens that look great through all four seasons, while combining the tried-and-true with style and architectural interest.

Come find out how you can take your garden to the next level! Bring your questions and design dilemnas!







How To Create A Patio Oasis!

Join us on Saturday March 17, 1:00pm at Atlas Pots for a special presentation by Jochi & Andre of Beautiful Balconies!

Jochi (an artist & photographer) and André ( an interior designer & accountant ) are the pair behind – Beautiful Balconies – beauty and design combined with an extensive knowledge of plants. They specialize in creative lush gardens for small and medium sized balconies and patios. An oasis in the city – no matter how small.

Come find out about inspires this talented duo and learn about design and planting tips to create your own patio oasis!



Jochi Andre

Celebrating 12 Years!

Back in 2006, Atlas Pots opened its doors in Point Grey. It took nearly 2 months to renovate and beautify the store before opening for business in late February. Looking back, there was definite uncertainty abThe back deckout this new venture, there was also so much optimism and joy. People would come in and chat about their lives and gardens; they would ask what to plant or bring in something they had grown to share with us. The back of the store was a small private oasis with a lush garden, a water feature where we and customers would hang out and chat.

Within six months, we had an opportunity to take over a new space in North Vancouver. We took it! It was a juggling act carrying both locations so we decided to let the Point Grey location go.

Through these initial months, it was apparent that there were limits to what we could offer. Planters were only available in ceramic, earthenware, and concrete. All heavy options. We wanted Atlas Pots to become the placstore-front close upe for planters that were lightweight, winter-proof, and just great to look at. The process of designing shapes, researching how to best construct these planters, and the whole learning process igniting us! There was so much to learn and some definite trials along the way. There were also some awesome people and manufacturers that were willing to work with a small, unknown Vancouver business.

We are now in our 12th year of business, and are ever grateful to the support of our community, our industry, and our awesome customers!!!

How to DIY an Awesome Modern Planter Bench

modern planter

DIY decorating has been making a splash in the design world for several years now.

But this isn’t your elementary school craft project or your grandmother’s knitting. These designs are modern and functional. Different options abound.

Designs for furniture and decorations that fit a variety of styles exist. They’ve been popping up all over the internet.

Many of these DIY designs offer an affordable way to decorate your home. Some are even created to be inexpensive look-alikes to expensive, designer pieces.

These designs are great for more than just homeowners. They make great, affordable accent pieces for a variety of businesses as well.

One do-it-yourself project that’s been gaining in popularity recently is the modern planter bench.

Modern Planter Bench DIY

The modern DIY planter bench project is popular due to how easy many of them are to build. Plus, the finished project is attractive and useful.

It’s stylish, functional, and is a fun twist on traditional planters. Use near the door to an office or home, as an accent in a garden, or even move it indoors, to an atrium or entryway.

Modern planter bench DIYs come in many shapes, styles, and sizes.

Some designs aim to keep it simple. They use plain, unpainted wood or even concrete blocks. They include simple planters. The style is sleek, sophisticated, and minimalistic.

Other designs create a much quirkier style! Paint and bright planters filled with colorful flowers and plants add a pop of color and a fun accent to any space.

Choosing the Right Design for Your Space

Before you start tackling a modern planter bench DIY, you’ll want to decide where the bench is going to go. This is important for many reasons…

If you’re planting outside, you’ll want to make sure you use wood that is going to hold up to the elements. When planting inside, you’ll need to think about what kinds of plants grow well indoors.

Once you’ve decided where your bench is going to go, it’s time to choose a design. There are plenty of plans and guides available online.

You can customize any planter bench design to make it match the space or your personal style.

Some even feature storage space – talk about functional! Use it to store gardening supplies or cushions and pillows from outdoor furniture.

Here are a few DIY planter bench designs to get you started:

A Sleek, Modern Planter Bench

The simplicity of this design makes it a great choice for those new to DIY projects and seasoned pros alike. This modern design would be a great accent for use outside of businesses, or outside of a home.

All you’ll need are two large planters, wood, deck screws, and tools. If you plan to use this bench outdoors, you’ll also want  a stain or sealer to help it withstand the elements.

When choosing planters to use for this DIY project, you’ll want to choose sturdy planters.

They also need to be about 18 inches high to be a comfortable height for the bench. The planters act as the base of this bench, holding weight and determining how high the bench is.

As you won’t be painting the wood on this bench, the planters will be the focal points of this project.

Fiberclay pots look like concrete and add a sophisticated, industrial look to this bench. Fiberglass planters come in a range of colors and finishes and give you more style options.

Simple, Natural Planter Bench

This natural-looking bench is a great accent piece for gardens or in landscaping.

As with the first design, you’ll need just wood, nails, and planters, and some tools. The planters in this design won’t be as visible, but you’ll still need sturdy planters that will last.

Choose your planters first, as the height will influence how wide you make the bench.

Rustic Planter Bench

This planter bench design requires some woodworking skills. The complicated design produces a more finished, yet rustic design.  It’s great for homes, gardens, and businesses.

You’ll need two smaller planters for this bench. Choose your planters first, as the size will influence the design of the rest of the bench.

This bench can be painted or stained for a custom look or be left “natural.” Add cushions for a pop of color.

Toy Box Planter Bench

This toy box style planter bench is as useful as it is stylish. The lid is hinged, making it a great spot for storing gardening supplies.

You can insert plastic tubs and use them to store cushions and pillows for patio furniture and more.

The planters in this design aren’t attached but can be added on one side or both sides of this bench. This makes it look like a single, continuous unit.

Large square or rectangular planters work best with this design.

Black or gray fiberglass planters, like the ones in the Imperium Line, add a modern touch. Or, choose poly-fiber or fiberclay planters for a modern, industrial look.

For a design that requires almost no maintenance, an artificial hedge is a good choice.

Artificial hedges are also easier to move than live plants. This makes them a great staging piece for real estate agents or interior designers.

Caring For Your Planter Bench

As with any planters, you’ll need to properly plant and care for the planters that you use for your bench.

How you plant your planters will have a big effect on whether your plants survive and thrive.

To perfectly plant your planter, start with a layer designed for drainage. Lava rocks, rounded drainage rocks, and non-biodegradable Styrofoam chips all work great.

You’ll want to top this drainage layer with a piece of landscape cloth. Next, comes soil and finally – your plant!

To make sure that your planter holds up, you’ll want to do a little research into what your planter is made of as well.

Choosing a quality planter will help ensure that your bench lasts.

Keep in mind that a cheaply made planter may not hold up well over time. Replacing the planters on your custom bench can be a real challenge.

Have you embarked on an awesome DIY challenge recently? How’d it go?

Festive Planters!

Creating Festive Planters

Holiday decorating is so much fun, and really helps to set the celebratory mood! There are so many options available and containers can be filled with different types of greens, twigs, ornaments, and other interesting items.

Ottawa Garden Design has done a great job in explaining the steps needed to create your own festive planter: click here for all the instructions.

We like using a variety of fillers depending on whether the planter is under cover or out in the open. In Vancouver (where we live!), having something that will be okay to get totally drenched in important. Using soil can be an easy, no-fuss option. In a covered area, tightly packed styrofoam pieces, or florist’s styrofoam can make for an easy base.

Once you’ve chosen your container, and filled in the bottom with a medium that can hold branches, it’s time to create your masterpiece!

There are many items that can be found in your own backyard, or in your neighbourhood. Choosing 1-3 types of evergreen branches will comprise the majority of what goes into your planter. These branches can be long to create a ‘spilling’ look, or shorter to create an upright look. After the evergreens are added to the planter, there is no limit to what you can add.

Some suggestions that will add life to your festive planter:

  • acorns: plain or glittered
  • ribbons
  • lanterns
  • twigs: plain or painted
  • Christmas ornaments
  • flower blossoms
  • garlands
  • lights
  • and anything you can think of!

Adorning your entryway, or deck with festive themed planters creates a sense of celebration! These festive planters can be a fun family event where everyone gets to choose the different items that will be put into the planter.

These planters below were recently installed at Park Royal by Whole Foods:

whole-food-park-royal-1 whole-foods-park-royal-2










Main photo credit:

Large Planters Can Transform a Porch: Here’s How to Do It

Think some planters would spruce up your space but not quite sure how to do it?

This guide is for you.

We’ll cover a few guiding principles to help you design the space and then get into different styles and planters and when to use each one.

Let’s crack on then!

Large planters 101

There are a few rules you should follow when you’re designing your new porch with planters.

Pick a theme

First, pick a theme.

Some people choose a theme that closely matches inside their house.

Matching your house closely means that you can accentuate your indoor/outdoor flow. It’s also an effective technique if your home or the home you’re decorating sits within an especially distinctive style.

For example, if the entire house is an authentically renovated French villa, then it makes sense that the porch matches.

An alternative approach is to use your porch as an opportunity.

You can use it to explore a different style and make it its own enclave, where you can be creative with styles and colors you might not want in the rest of your house.

This approach emphasizes the idea that the porch is a tranquil, quiet spot away from the world where you can go to unwind.

The goal here is to develop a cohesive design for your porch that large planters will slide nicely into so that your porch feels exactly how you want it to feel.

One thing to be wary of here is overdoing it with the theme of your front porch. There’s nothing tackier than a theme that’s over the top specific for a niche design era or interest, especially if it doesn’t fit the rest of the home.

Now is not the time to explore your love for Star Trek with a Trekkie-themed porch.

The theme should be more of a vibe or feeling that you’re hoping to cultivate – like ‘modern’ or ‘homey’.

Pick your plants

Naturally, your plants will follow the theme that you’ve chosen for a porch but again, there are some general guiding principles.

For example, unless you’re going for an austere modern look using modern planters, you can’t go wrong with the idea of thrills, fills, and spills. You want plants that:

  • Give your large planter a pop of colour (thrills).
  • Fill the space, usually something small, flowering, and inexpensive (fills).
  • Spill over the side (spills).

Choose plants that will thrive (and plant ‘em right!)

Make sure that whatever plants you use are designed to thrive in your environment.

If you choose to plant a tropical palm in a planter in Texas you’re asking for heartbreak.

There are literally hundreds of plants to choose from for every environment under the sun so no matter where you live you’re sure to find something that you like, no matter what your theme.

Finally, ensure that they’re planted correctly. If you want to know the best way to plant a planter, check out our guide on planting a planter.

Those are the guiding stars: a clear theme (but not too themed), plants that fit the planter and spill, thrill and fill, and plants that work in your environment and are planted correctly.

Now, on to choosing the right large planter for the right place…

Different styles of planters (and when to use them)

Now that you’ve got your theme, it’s time to pick the right planter for the right job.

Fiberglass planter

Fiberglass planters are great for those who want a modern planter that’s minimalist and clean.

Long favored by patio and balcony owners (especially in modern condos and apartments) they excel at keeping a space tidy and sleek, even outside.

If you hate clutter, these are for you.

These sorts of planters lend themselves particularly well to screening and privacy because of the tall, reedy plants that tend to go in them.

Perfect for keeping nosy neighbors out of your business. 

For example, if you have a large porch and you want to divide it into an entrance way and an al fresco dining area off to the side, a few large planters will do a great job of separating off that area for a little more intimacy.

Another example is to screen off the street from your porch, creating a small private world in an otherwise open space.

One thing to consider with fiberglass planters is what plants suit them. Because they are so refined, even stark in their design, it’s important that the plants are equally elegant.

Mountain grasses, reeds, and agave-looking plants are all good options, but the choices now are virtually limitless.

Fiberclay pot

In contrast to fiberglass planters, fiberclay pots are more versatile for porch transformations.

While they still offer a refined, crisp look, they have the capacity to carry a lot more warmth to the porch and suit a broader range of plants (they’re especially good for the spilling part if planter theory).

One particular benefit of fiberclay pots is that because they’re a little more versatile than modern fiberglass planters, you have more flexibility with what sort of furniture you pair it with.

For example, say you wanted to create a small coffee area. With more modern planters, you’re fairly restricted to dark wicker furniture.

With fiberclay pots, you could use whatever furniture you want – a cast iron bench, a swing, a log – their versatility means they’ll work everywhere.

One great technique you can use for fiberclay is to contrast jumbly plants with the smooth look of the planters.

Using something that spills over and explodes with color can create a relaxed shabby-chic feel without crossing over into grandma territory (a perpetual fear for all planter zealots).

We recommend using fiberclay to bring color and light to a space that perhaps has a little more room to play with than fiberglass planters and is looking to create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Artificial hedges

While not strictly a planter, we thought it worth a brief mention.


Sheer versatility.

Small, inexpensive, and zero maintenance, artificial hedges can bring elegance and sophistication to a porch without taking up any space.

If dirt is really not your thing, these are perfect.

In particular, artificial hedges are great for separating a porch from the street, segmenting  a larger space into different ‘rooms’ or even just adding some greenery to a naked porch.

To recap

So to recap:

  • When you’re redesigning a porch or patio, focus on clarifying a theme for the look and feel you want to go for.
  • Use plants that will suit wherever you live and your lifestyle.
  • If you want something that’s low maintenance then got for an artificial hedge.
  • Choose planters that match your theme. If it’s a sleek, modern look you’re cultivating, opt for fiberglass planters. For a more relaxed feel, then fiberclay pots are great. And for minimal fuss, maximum sophistication, an artificial hedge is your best bet.
  • Match your planters to your furniture (and vice versa).
  • Load your planters with plants that suit them. For fiberglass, go for thin and refined. For fiberclay, you have more flexibility – tailor your plants to fit your theme.

If you do all that, you’ll have a porch you love in no time.

Got questions? We’ve got answers. Get in touch today and we’ll give you a hand with all your planter and garden queries.

Tips for Perfectly Planting a Planter

Perfect Plants in Planter

How to Plant in Planter Pots the Right Way

If you’ve ever dreamed of cultivating your own urban garden, or had visions of gorgeous pots full of blooming flowers adding pops of color to your patio, only to try (and fail) at being a container gardener, don’t despair. Not everyone was born with a green thumb, but there are ways to develop one. It all starts with knowing which crops are best suited to be planted in pots and planters, and the amount of sunlight and water each different type of plant needs. If you are ready to give up on your wilting container garden, don’t throw in that towel just yet. We’re here to enlighten you and provide some pro tips on the best way to make your patio garden grow.

Container Gardening 


Whether you are interested in growing several crops at once or planting a tree or a singular plant like grasses, you may enjoy the options and beauty that container gardening can offer. By grouping pots or planters together, you can create your own urban garden right on your patio or rooftop. It is essential that you choose the right size and type of container for the crops you wish to grow. For example, if you plan to grow vegetables such as cucumbers, summer squash or tomatoes, you will need a pot that is at least 24 inches in diameter. For smaller veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower or greens, an 18-inch diameter pot will do. If space is limited, consider growing herbs, strawberries, or lettuce, which all only require a 10-inch diameter pot for each.

In addition to the size of your planters, you must consider the shape and depth of the containers. Plants like lettuce, which have shallow roots, flourish in containers that are wider than they are tall. Meanwhile, broad, deep planters are best for plants such as zucchini or pumpkin. For your bigger plants like tomatoes or squash, consider a larger round or rectangular planters as both an ideal planting option and a bold decorating choice.

With the right size and shape of planter, your container garden will thrive.

Know Your Planters

Not all planters are created equal. While clay pots and plastic pots abound in usage, many types of planters can successfully grow your edibles and plants if you do it right. Certainly, an urban garden can include a collection of fiberglass planters, plastic planters, clay pots, etc. When you choose the type of planters you wish to use for your urban container garden, it is best to think of the aesthetics of your choice as well as whether your chosen crops do well in a planter. As this informative blog post from The Micro Gardner outlines, each type of planter has its pros and cons. Here is a breakdown of the most popular planter choices.

Clay Pots

Terracotta pots, as well as glazed clay pots, are among the most traditional planters that urban gardeners select for their potted plants. The porous quality of clay, as well as its natural ability to retain heat, can be ideal or downright deadly for your plants and flowers, depending on your climate and watering habits. The thick walls of a clay pot protect the roots of your plants from extreme temperature changes, and also don’t blow over as easily as more lightweight pots, though they are extremely breakable if knocked over or hit, and can crack during the winter if they aren’t draining well. Because of its porous composition, clay pots are a good choice for those who tend to over-water, as the pots drain well and wick moisture from potting soil.

The best plants to use clay pots for are those that thrive in a well-drained, dry soil, such as cacti. Clay pots are a decorative and beautiful choice for indoor or outdoor plants, and work well in patio settings, as well as on front porches.

Wooden Pots

The natural beauty of wood works well with any setting and décor. Not only that, but wooden planters are often designed with slats in them that are ideal for proper drainage. Wooden pots are a popular choice among urban gardeners and are praised for being durable and able to withstand several planting seasons. One drawback to wooden containers is that they are very heavy and hard to move, which shouldn’t be a concern if you aren’t planning on relocating your container garden any time soon. In rainier climates, wooden pots tend to rot and have a limited lifespan. Here is a great article from SFGate about how to prime your wooden planters for planting.

Concrete Pots

A very durable planter option, concrete pots are also the heaviest, so make sure they will be designated a permanent spot in your garden. Concrete pots, especially the larger sizes, can be on the pricey side of things, but are built to last, making them a good investment for your urban garden.

Plastic Containers

If your watering style can be best described as “whenever I remember,” you may wish to opt for plastic containers for your urban garden. A less expensive option, however there are limits on how large you can go. Because plastic pots don’t drain as thoroughly as clay pots, they retain more water in the potting soil, making less frequent watering a must. Other advantages to plastic containers include ease of transplantation, and lightweight composition. On the downside, plastic pots lack a certain aesthetic quality that clay pots and other decorative planters possess, and can look rather cheap and flimsy compared to their more substantial counterparts. Plastic pots can crack during the winter months. However, one option is to put your plastic pots into a second, more decorative container for visual appeal.

Upcycled Planters

When it comes right down to it, anything that holds something could potentially be used as a planter. However, some containers work better than others for growing potted plants. If you choose to plant your container garden in something quirky and unique, make sure it still fits all the requirements for heat retention, drainage, size, shape and depth for whatever you’re planting. Barrels are a popular choice of alternative planter, and work quite well for plants such as tomatoes. Also, galvanized metal boxes are a trendy option that lend an urban feel to your project. Here is a great photo gallery of fun upcycled planter trends from Country Living.

And, remember, you can use more than one material of planters if you can create a theme or design that works. Starting with your largest container is very helpful in creating a design that works, so you don’t end up with 20 small round pots cluttering your area.

Fibreglass & Resin Composite planters

oval fiberglass planter

These materials offer a lot of stylish options in shapes that are very lightweight. Fiberglass and resin composites are made from creating a mold, so the types of shapes and textures, are limitless. There are a variety of sizes available from average to really large, and custom shapes and sizes are possible. Resilient and durable, this material can manage the summer and winter climate with proper planting which allows good drainage. Fiberglass and resin planters are non-leaching so they are safe for edible gardening.

See these tips and care information: Tips and Care for plant pots 

This material is fast emerging as an aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, and high quality option for planters that also offers some insulation for plants. However, if there are concerns, there are ways of creating increased insulation in a planter.


Stainless Steel & Aluminum planters

Metal offers a great look and is unbreakable. This material tends to be one of the most expensive, however is highly durable. Metal does conduct heat and cold, so creating insulation in the planter is recommended depending on the local climate. Shapes are sleek, and sizes vary from average to quite large. Custom shapes and sizes are possible.

Planting Basics

Homegrown eggplant! Get ready for some yummy eggplant pakoras!

Once you have determined which crops you want to grow and which planters you will use, the final step is the actual planting process. You may feel that this is a basic skill that everyone knows how to do from kindergarten, but there is a great deal of art and science to proper planting, and mastering it can make or break your gardening game. Urban gardeners, pay attention, because here comes Planting 101.

  • Each plant comes with its own guidelines. Growing rosemary is not the same as growing radicchio, and so on. Before planting your crops, make sure to hit the Internet for some research on the exact sunlight and water ratios your specific crops will need, as well as other essential information such as depth and spacing of seeds, germination time, and other environmental factors you may need to be aware of.
  • Now that you’ve picked out your seeds, you need to arrange the planters in the order you want them to grow. For instance, if you want to group all your herbs together and have another section for your vegetables, line up the pots where you want them to go. This will not only allow you to visualize the finished product in your mind’s eye, but also ensure that you have the right sizes and types of pots before you start filling them with soil.
  • For all plants, make sure to start with a good potting soil. Container gardening requires a different kind of soil than the kind you would fertilize the yard with. Look for a “potting mix” or “potting soil,” which is made from composted bark, peat moss and other essential nutrients and ingredients that do not contain the soil you find in the ground. According to this helpful blog from Bonnie Plants, an ideal potting soil is fluffy in texture, locks in moisture, and provides a healthy balance of air, moisture, nutrients, and anchorage.
  • Follow the guidelines on the seed packet or your Internet research to properly plant the seeds for each crop. Carefully mind the spacing and depth when you are sowing the seeds, or they may become impacted and unable to sprout. Begin planting in the center of the pot and work outward, and make sure that the soil level stays 1-2 inches below the lip of the planter. This handy article from This Old House recommends the use of broken terra-cotta pot shards or Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom half of taller planters when you are planting crops with shallow roots.
  • Water often- whenever the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches below the surface- and make sure to fertilize regularly, using the directions on the fertilizer package as guidelines. Your container garden should begin to grow and flourish in no time!

Thinking of starting your very own urban container garden?

Atlas Pots has what you need to get started. We are North Vancouver’s solution to all your planting needs. We have a wide variety of planters and pots to fit every décor style and budget, and can assist you with finding the exact sizes and dimensions of planters you need. Atlas Pots is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, so we know a thing or two about what you need to create the perfect outdoor space.

Let Atlas Pots help you turn your container garden dream into a thriving reality. Contact us today, visit our North Vancouver gallery, or shop online for the pots, planters, and containers you need to make your outdoor space come alive.


fiberglass RUBY planter

Rachel from Living Urban Planters recently shared some pictures of her favourite projects. The environment comes alive with the plantings and well-placed planters. We love Rachel’s work, and how she creates beauty in nature. The use of trees in large planters creates a great focal point.

(above) White RUBY planter.


White TRENT planter

White fiberglass rectangle planters

fiberglass black planters

fiberglass black cube planters

Planters – The possibilities are limitless

Vancouver’s Choice for Contemporary Planters

At Atlas Pots we specialize in creating your ideal setting when talking about planters for your home, commercial space or cabin. We welcome you to our Vancouver location where you can easily check our great selection of planters and let us help you with the choices according to the space you have.

cube and rectangle


Containers can be great focal points in a garden or as accents pieces flanking doorways. They can also create beautiful, personal spaces on patios, with flowers, plants or herbs. Using a container does not, however, have to limit what you are planting. You can grow almost anything in a container. Find out about the best soil mixture for your plant, consider sun exposure, and think about the look you want to create. When looking at great containers in



bistro set


Trees like Japanese Maples (various types), California Lilacs, Japanese Willow, and dwarf fruit trees, Azalea, and Rhododendrons.

Plants like grasses, bamboos, shrubs such as Yews and Viburnums, topiaries.




Spotted!  Tulips have hit the flower shops. The perfect pick-me-up on a grey day. #tulips #spring #February #blooms #flowers


Flowers like annuals and perennials including vines, clematis, and camellias. You can also consider native flowers as well as edible flowers.







Edibles like strawberries, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, squash, green beans, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, peas, and more.

Herbs like cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, dill, oregano, and more.






Containers for children’s gardening can be a great way to teach the wonders of nature and growth while allowing your children to grow things on their very own. Also, using containers as decorative pieces filled with cuttings can be a great way to dress up an entrance way, a table or even a front porch throughout the year.