Instructables
This is an easy guide to planting a big pot on the sidewalk in front of your home. It's designed for people who know next to nothing about gardening.

Adding flowers and plants to your sidewalk is an item on Neighbors Project's Neighbors Checklist, and is a guiding principle of Neighborly Home Design. I don't know about you, but whenever I walk down blocks with great sidewalk flowers, I can't help but think, "I wish my block looked like that." But I've been too lazy to actually do something about it until circumstances forced the issue: some friends needed to get rid of their big pot because they're moving. Now that I'm done, I have to say that this project was really fun. I wish I had done it sooner. And yes, I did actually meet some of my neighbors in the time I was out doing this project.

To do this Instructable you'll need:
-1.5 bags of potting soil (aka, big bags of dirt)
-Pot (big and heavy)
-Plants
-Watering can
-Water
-Sidewalk

Step 1: Get your plants, pot and dirt

I got my large barrel, one largeish plant and one (big) bag of dirt from friends who are moving out of town. Since it was a gift of sorts, I didn't have much choice about what to get. But I wouldn't have taken the barrel if I didn't like it; it's a great outdoor pot for plants. And pots are an easy option for gardening your sidewalk; you don't have to build anything or dig into existing dirt areas. However, if you live in a city with grass strips between the sidewalk and street, then you might find it easier to garden that grass area. Some of my old neighbors in Chicago planted gorgeous sunflowers in the grass strip in front of our home.

I had to unpack the dirt and plant from the pot with a mini shovel and put it into some extra strong garbage bags. If you also need to transport unpackaged dirt, I strongly suggest that you spread out the dirt across a bunch of bags, and double bag any bags that are especially heavy. Dirt is very heavy, and bags break easily.

Since the friends from whom I got the pot, etc. lived about a mile from my home, I used my granny cart to roll over the dirt and pot in two separate trips. It's a large sturdy cart and I had absolutely no problems getting the materials home. I highly recommend the humble granny cart for moving heavy objects, particularly if you live somewhere with limited parking and don't want to pay for a cab, or just want to enjoy the gorgeous day.

The donated items didn't really fill up the pot, so I ended up making a separate trip to get a bag of potting soil, three small plants and a watering can from a local plant store. If you've walked around your neighborhood any, you'll probably already know where to find your local nursery. I ended up visiting two plant stores because the first place I went didn't have many outdoor plants. They recommended a nearby store, so I walked over.

If you don't know anything about plants, like me, then be sure to ask the advice of the people at the store. Don't forget to tell the person at the store how much shade and sun the plant is likely to get; you don't have to know the exact hours, just a rough guess of whether the area gets morning light or afternoon light or no light at all. The store employee should know the climate and plants well enough to recommend something that will work for you. If you don't trust the person at the store, be sure to read the labels in the plants, which usually have some info about whether the plant will thrive on your sidewalk. And no, I have no idea what the plants I bought are called; I just chose things that seemed pretty and easy to maintain. Hopefully they'll thrive.

By the way, it's really fun to walk around with a cart full of lovely flowers; people constantly smile at you and peek into your cart.

Finally, be sure to dress properly. Wear clothes that you're willing to get dirty, and take off your rings or other jewelry. After all, you'll be playing in the dirt!
 
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markwills771 month ago

nice idea! I take it.

Also, I would love to see a constructable about how to build the pot itself.

jany6 years ago
Great idea! You made it so simple. Anybody have any ideas how to keep a water supply under it for auto watering? That would be supurb!
AubreeMarie6 years ago
Oh no, I looked through some of your others Instructables and I'm guessing your from S.F., if only I had seen this 3 mos. ago I could have given you a buttload of Vinca, :(
neighborsproject (author)  AubreeMarie6 years ago
No worries! I got some new plants from my mother in law last Thanksgiving and they've done very well. They're much nicer looking than the ones pictured in this Instructable. One of them drapes over the sides of the pot, which has been lovely. Thanks for thinking of me though!
AubreeMarie6 years ago
What zone are you? Depending on which one, I would REALLY suggest burying a couple Vinca Vines in there, it will drape over the sides, grows really fast and will fill in a lot as well. You have a lot of height and middle fill, but I'm so biased towards plants that hang and trail and think Vinca would be perfect for this application.
You might like a website called guerillagardening dot com. It is the logical next step on from your planters project :D
ysabet6 years ago
Just a tip to keep your plants healthy: before you dump the soil into your tub, pour in about 2 inches or so of styrofoam packing-peanuts (or medium-sized rocks, or pieces of broken china, or anything that allows spacing for air between them.) What you're trying to do is create a drainage zone, so excess water can percolate through the soil and drain into the air-spaces between these larger chunks and then out. If you're in a humid environment this is particularly important, because plants in wooden tubs tend to mold if they get too damp deep in the pot; even in dry climates this happens. Packing peanuts (be sure not to use the starch ones!) work great, and it recycles the little monsters into something useful. Grow well, y'all.
Doctor What6 years ago
It's nice to see a way to have green in an otherwise grey environment. Cheers!!!!
It's always a great sight to see grown trees and flowers on the sidewalk.
neighborsproject (author)  quickthinker7 years ago
Amen
Very nice.
My neighbor has an old rickety wine barrel... hmmm
Thanks for the idea!
Great to see people beautifying their neighborhood.
I really like your instructable. I have loved plants and gardening for as long as I can remember. I'm not being critical because what you wrote is great but i would not advise people to water their plants every day. You should only water a pot when it needs water. There is a very accurate scientific method you can use to measure the moisture content of the soil in the root zone and determine if it needs water- stick a finger or two into the dirt. Srsly. Stick a finger or two into the soil and if it feels moist (not wet, just moist) about 2-3 inches down, no water today. If it feels dry, it's time to bust out the watering can. Happy gardening.
neighborsproject (author)  Handsome-Ryan7 years ago
Thanks for the tip. I really know nothing about gardening, so I appreciate advice and corrections from the experts!