Recycled Plastic Lumber makes a Garden Green

The Ultimate Recycling Statement

DeepStream Designs’ mantra:  “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is evident in recycled plastic lumber planters and recycling bins created to reduce human impact on the environment.  As I pointed out in a blog on Plastic Lumber Planters  more and more customers are making the switch to recycled plastic lumber reducing environmental impact at the same time as maintenance costs.

Recycled Plastic Lumber is perfect for clients that are working on projects striving to integrate sustainable design into their projects.  Using Recycled Plastic Lumber (RPL) for planters not only reduces tropical rainforest deforestation but it also greatly reduces maintenance for you saving you time, money, and effort.

The color of Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters Vs the color of 3 year old tropical hardwood planter like teak

For 10 years now, DeepStream Designs has been building planters with the same sophisticated design as the  wood Mariner planter using HDPE plastic lumber made from 100% recycled milk jugs and also planters from Phenolic resin and 100% recycled cardboard.  Recycled Plastic Lumber (RPL) combined with our trademark marine aluminum extrusions and aircraft aluminum frameless design is a no-nonsense “set and forget it package” perfect for restaurants, commercial installations, and residential projects where minimal maintenance is as important as aesthetics.

As with all planters, the plants themselves help cool the earth,  cleaning the air by producing oxygen as they convert and trap carbon.  In addition, RPL planters crafted by  DeepStream reduce man’s impact on the environment because:

  • It’s RECYCLED and RECYCLABLE!

– Using recycled plastic lumber or cardboard and phenolic lumber planks eliminates the cutting of trees and uses far less energy to ship and manufacture.

– The plastic lumber DeepStream uses is made from recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene) from milk jugs and other polyethylene packaging that might otherwise be destined for landfills.

– The planter and recycle bin liners are also both made from  LLDPE ( low–density polyethylene).

– Aluminum, the world’s most available and abundant mineral, legs and straps, along with plastic components are 100% recyclable.

  • Maintenance Free!

– Uses no energy, chemicals, or materials to maintain.

– Recycled plastic lumber  never needs to be painted, oiled, or stained and won’t rot, splinter or split an in DeepStream’s marine anodized frame with no paint or powder coating to fail it can be pressure cleaned.

5 HDPE Recycled Plastic Lumber standard color options Ipe Brown, Tropical Hardwood, Aged Hardwood, Concrete Grey. and Weathered Teak
5 HDPE Recycled Plastic Lumber standard color options
3 samples of tropical hardwood options Ipe, Jatoba, and Cumaru
3 Tropical Hardwood Options

– Proprietary extruded legs of 6063-T5  aluminum are finished with a durable etched marine anodized finish and HDPE non-scuff feet.

– Stainless steel fasteners are installed with dialectric paste to prevent corrosion.

– Modular design facilitates easy repair should a product be damaged.   Recycle the damaged piece and receive a replacement piece at DeepStream’s manufacturing cost, using their Core Replacement Program.  Don’t throw away that valuable product!

  • RPL Colors won’t fade – Ultra-violet stabilizers used in the lumber ensure colors look as vibrant decades from now as they do today.
  • Cost EffectiveWorking with 100% recycled plastic lumber and cardboard phenolic lumber not only reduces production costs, but it also requires NO MAINTENANCE, reducing the life-cycle-cost of ownership over time compared to wood Garden Planters.

While the 100% recycled plastic lumber specified for DeepStream is still full 3/4″ thick tongue and groove planking with a simulated wood grain, and only a few cents a square foot less than natural hardwood lumber, several aspects of Commercial LEED Garden Planters and Recyclers reduce the manufacturing cost without cutting quality so that DeepStream can pass along the savings to its customers:

  • Planter Boxes and waterproof liners with drainage are stocked in specific sizes to eliminate waste.
  • Planing, sanding, and hand-rubbed finish are eliminated taking hours off of production time and saving energy.

Optional drain attachments with overflow control on the liners allow  planters to be used in any interior or exterior installations.

Planters with liners ship fully assembled, just add dirt, or they can be disassembled for shipping or flat storage in 15 minutes.

DeepStream's 100% recycled cardboard Phenolic lumber
DeepStream’s 100% recycled cardboard Phenolic lumber
RPL Tropical Hardwood Grain
RPL Tropical Hardwood Grain
Ipe Brown 100% RPL on top of natural Ipe
Ipe Brown 100% RPL on top of natural Ipe
RPL Aged Hardwood Grain
RPL Aged Hardwood Grain

“Ipe” Brown RPL planters

DeepStream LEED 100% Recycled Plastic Ipe Brown Planter
DeepStream LEED 100% Recycled Plastic Ipe Brown Planter

“Ipe” Brown RPL planters

DeepStream' LEED 100% recycled plastic and aluminum garden planters
DeepStream’ LEED 100% recycled plastic and aluminum garden planters

Phenolic, cardboard and resin, planks look like leather and thrive in the harshest conditions.

Shown here with aluminum Zephyr banding separating the planks on a 36″ cube Mariner planter and stock liner.

DeepStream planter made with 100% recycled cardboard lumber
DeepStream planter made with 100% recycled cardboard lumber

For more information on Sustainable Garden Planter Design click here.

Recycled Plastic Lumber Planter

Long garden planters for restaurants in dark grey recycled plastic lumber creates a no-maintenance barrier wall to control access around a chic modern restaurant seating area. They may be sanitized with a pressure cleaner as there is no paint or powder coating to fail. Lifetime Structural Warranty.

Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters: Helping the world’s Rainforests.

In 2009, DeepStream started offering low maintenance Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters (RPL) as an alternative to tropical hardwood planters.

DeepStream's Large square Commercial Wood Planters for Trees use maintenance free recycled plastic lumber inside thier aluminum frames: click for more info
DeepStream’s Large square Commercial Planters made with recycled plastic lumber are strong enough to hold trees thanks to their hidden structural aluminum frames and plastic planter liners.

Over the past 12 years more and more DeepStream customers have been choosing recycled plastic lumber planters over tropical hardwoods harvested from rainforests.  By 2017, RPL was specified more often than natural wood thanks to the concern of our customers and their commitment to the environment.

High profile green roof projects such as Boston’s Fenway Park have chosen DeepStream’s planters as the perfect combination of sustainable design, recycled, and recyclable content providing both the lowest total impact on the environment and lowest cost of ownership over time and low maintenance.

Graph shows Recycled Plastic Lumber is increasing in popularity
Sales of DeepStream Designs’ Recycled Plastic Lumber products exceeded those of Tropical Hardwood by 2017

Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters reduce maintenance costs while enhancing your properties and brands through the timeless beauty and environmental statement that DeepStream Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters, trash and recycling bins make with your customers.

Click to DeepStream's solutions website to see more about commercial quality recycled plastic lumber planters
Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters and combination Commercial Trash and Recycling Receptacle

Like many successful companies, DeepStream was created in a response to a need.  While building a condominium project and reviewing the “universe” of garden planters, we found that what we wanted was not available elsewhere.

Wood planters were all carpenter-built with wood-on-wood construction, and as I’ve detailed in my Planter Selection Blog and, like many other construction techniques and materials, they just don’t last and waste a precious resource and your money. They give your business a bad image of low quality and lack of care, it’s better not to use any at all.

Rickety carpenter built wood planter
Rickety planter with carpenter built techniques soon fall apart as the planter goes to wet and dry cycles

The valuable wood harvested from the world’s rapidly diminishing rainforests is wasted, as the planters tear themselves apart and are thrown away in a few years (typically 3-4 years here in Miami).

Ugly carpenter built wood planter in front of a restaurant
Wood Planters using carpenter built techniques soon fall apart

If your project absolutely must use tropical hardwood, then specify DeepStream’s Mariner Planter System as it is engineered with the principles of Sustainable Design to use, or even reuse, hardwood or recycled plastic lumber in a design that honors the wood, allowing construction that extends wood life by decades.

click tp DeepStream's solutions website for more information on wood vs recycled plastic lumber planters
While not as environmentally friendly as recycled plastic lumber planters DeepStream Commercial Wood Planters will last for decades and create a bright natural sidewalk café while absorbing carbon, giving off oxygen, cooling the sidewalk, and creating business for the restaurant inside that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Harvesting tropical hardwood destroys important habitats around the world, even if “sustainably harvested,” as hardwood trees take 50 years or more to reach maturity.  A recent article in the New York Times put the percentage of tropical hardwood illegally harvested but sold with counterfeit documents at 50% for Brazil and 90% from Peru.

According to the Yale School of Forestry, while estimates vary, it is thought that between 30 and 50% of all certified Tropical Hardwood shipped into the United states has been “Greenwashed,” meaning that shipments have been provided with falsified and counterfeit documentation. In some countries like Peru, it’s estimated that 90% are illegally logged, devastating their Amazon watershed.

For more information click here: “ Greenwashed” Timber and FSC certification

Planters made with non-structural Recycled Plastic Lumber planks (RPL) inside DeepStream’s unique structural aluminum frame are a perfect choice for outdoor placement, while making a strong environmental statement.

5 standard wood grain recycled plastic lumber colors, click on picture for more information on recycled plastic lumber
5 standard wood grain recycled plastic lumber colors

Separate from the environmental concerns about using real tropical hardwoods, we highly recommend RPL Wood Planters, especially in locations such as shopping centers and parking lots, locations serving food and drinks which stain natural wood and make a mess, or anywhere sanitation and easy maintenance are a concern.  Because DeepStream’s trademark planter legs are anodized, not painted or powder coated, RPL planters can be pressure cleaned.

All natural tropical hardwood planters will turn a light gray color and show stains and mold spots if not treated with a waterproofing and UV protector several times a year. This treatment will make all wood darker over time.

Given the time and expense necessary to keep natural hardwood looking good, and the damage done to the rain forests to harvest it, versus the “set and forget” ease of using recycled plastic lumber, you should give serious thought to which you will select for your project. RPL comes with a 50-year manufacturer’s limited warranty, and DeepStream’s aluminum frame makes up for the fact that is non-structural.

DeepStream makes it easy and cost effective to go Green and stop contributing to climate change. See the comparison between natural hardwood and recycled lumber on this informative page and decide for yourself. By selecting recycled plastic lumber for your order, you will be preserving the world’s rainforests, the cooling lungs of the earth, while creating a sustainable market for post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste.

4 premium wood grain recycled plastic lumber colors click for more information on recycled plastic lumber
4 premium wood grain recycled plastic lumber colors

Please discuss saving this diminishing resources for future generations with clients that specify tropical hardwoods. Our recycled plastic lumber requires no maintenance and lasts for decades without fading, saving your clients money while looking better over time than wood ever will.

If you do order natural hardwood, unlike carpenter-built planters, with DeepStream’s trademark anodized aluminum extrusions you know that your purchase will last for decades and not waste this precious resource.

Like offsetting your carbon footprint by buying carbon credits, another way to reduce this impact is to replant far more trees than are used in crafting our products. We do so in our customers names through Trees for the Future.

To date, June 2020, using proceeds from the sale of our products, DeepStream has planted more than 450,000 trees in our customers’ honor, reflecting DeepStream’s and our customers commitment to the environment we are leaving for future generations.

Before specifying tropical hardwood for your projects please look at the comprehensive worldwide overview of the problem created by using tropical information presented at this link:

https://news.mongabay.com/2019/12/2019-the-year-rainforests-burned/

Eliminate needless rainforest destruction by specifying DeepStream RPL planters and fixtures. The RPL DeepStream uses is backed by a 50-year limited warranty by its manufacturer.

Please call Sheila at DeepStream Designs 305 857-0466 to discuss your needs.

Planting Mix vs Dirt

DeepStream Designs knows from projects with Landscape Architects across the country how important using the appropriate planting mix is when growing perennials, trees, and bushes.

DeepStream large commercial planters with screen wall and the fight soil mixture grow colorful flowers on this urban roof deck oasis

Replanting these heavy items with complex root systems will be problematic.  Getting it right the first time is well worth the effort.

Often clients use their “Landscaping Contractor” for this work. This may be a good solution if the contractor has extensive experience with container gardening and knows the value of selecting the correct planting mix. Otherwise it could be a mistake.

DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design. Click for info
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.

Why?  Many Landscapers are not familiar with using a planting mix as they are usually planting in the earth. By using “dirt” or “soil” it may make the planter too heavy for the load on a roof or balcony.

Dirt, or an improper planter mix, will prevent drainage if it contain clay fines that can block drains, may hold too little or too much moisture. Additionally, dirt might not contain the correct PH and initial nutrients for the plants that you’re going to use.

There is no universally correct planting mix, as area microclimates must be taken into consideration.  Selecting a planter mix requires an intimate local knowledge of the complex relationship between all the competing factors for beneficial plant growth and maintenance.  Therefore, it is essential to ensure that you have a reliable source for your planting mix.

DeepStream's tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage
DeepStream’s tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage

We have posted a blog on the long-term cost benefits of using a Landscape Architect for even small commercial projects but you still need to ensure they have container gardening experience.  Another reliable source may be the nursery where you are sourcing the plants.

Whatever you do, don’t assume that your Landscaper or other source has the knowledge necessary to provide the planting mix.  Before starting, ask about their experience with container gardening and what mix they propose to use.  Vague or generic answers should be your clue that you need to investigate further before proceeding.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage

By all means, make certain that whoever does the planting follows DeepStream’s instructions regarding planter drainage using drain pads and filter material.  Many “old timers” fall back on gravel and holes in the bottom which will soon clog.

A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems
A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems. Drip irrigation lines are inserted through the top of liner walls below soil level. Quick draining planting medium and drain p[ads are essential ingredients to the long term success of this extensive project.

Remember that most of DeepStream’s stock planter liners come with just one threaded drain hole. This is only the minimum, since some installations are inside and require the hole to be plugged or drain pipes attached.   One hole means one point of failure with no backup.

DeepStream will drill additional drain holes required by your installation at no charge.  Tell us where you want additional drains installed, and we will do it before shipping.  You may also add them in the field with a hole saw.  Deepstream can supply screw together flange fitting to add straight or 90 degree hose barbs to new holes you add.

Top 11 Commercial Wood Planters (2020)

The Top 11 Commercial Wood Planters for 2020 provide the lowest cost of ownership over time and the lowest impact on planet Earth.

These prefabricated modular commercial wood planters from DeepStream Designs do not rely on carpenter built wood on wood construction that will fail in 3 – 5 years. They are built using marine anodized aircraft aluminum legs and frame and carry a Lifetime-Structural-Warranty. Anodizing the aluminum legs means there is no paint or powder coating to fail.

Classic Mariner stand alone commercial wood planters create an upscale sidewalk cafe in Miami and are easy to reconfigure as required. Click for more Info
Classic Mariner stand alone commercial wood planters create an upscale sidewalk cafe in Miami and are easy to reconfigure as required.

Commercial fiberglass planters are only guaranteed for 1 – 3 years, depending on the company. Fiberglass planters split when the root ball grows out and cracks the rigid fiberglass, or water freezes inside. Fiberglass does not stop the rootball from overheating when the single outer skin heats up to 130-140 degrees in 90 degree air temperature due to solar gain, steaming the root ball.

42 inch high tall commercial wood planters in recycled plastic lumber feature casters for mobility, allowing privacy between massage tables on the pool terrace of a Waikiki waterfront hotel.
42 inch high tall commercial wood planters, in maintenance free recycled plastic lumber, feature casters for mobility, allowing privacy between massage tables on the pool terrace of a Waikiki waterfront hotel.

Cast in place concrete planters above grade will crack as buildings settle over time and then leak, creating structural issues such as spalling which are very expensive and disruptive to correct. External commercial planters eliminate those expenses from the beginning.

Large square Commercial Wood Planters use maintenance free recycled plastic lumber inside thier aluminum frames to hold rugged liners planted with trees in the forest clearing of the Longhouse Reserve in the Hamptons. Click for info
Large square Commercial Wood Planters use maintenance free recycled plastic lumber inside thier aluminum frames to hold rugged liners planted with trees in the forest clearing of the Longhouse Reserve in the Hamptons.

While some of the commercial wood planters highlighted in this blog are built of real tropical hardwood, many are built using no maintenance recycled plastic lumber which preserves tropical rainforests and recycles the HDPE plastic used in milk jugs.

All DeepStream planters come with a rugged leakproof recycled plastic liner with advanced drainage. The liner within the planter box design also hides drip irrigation lines and optional casters.

DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled HDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design. Click for info
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled HDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.

The custom nature of DeepStream’s commercial planters built by American craftsmen mean that they are available in the exact sizes and configuration your projects need, in a short time frame, and there is never a design fee.

Large multi-section prefabricated modular commercial wood planters with their aluminum frame anchor screen wall, without penetrating there roof, to create a dog park on an urban apartment roof deck. Click for info
Large multi-section prefabricated modular commercial wood planters with their aluminum frame anchor the integrated screen wall, without penetrating the existing roof membrane, to create a dog park on an urban apartment roof deck.

Even complex prefabricated modular commercial planters from DeepStream, such as the roof deck dog park enclosure shown in the photos above and below, set up quickly with unskilled labor using photographic assembly directions for your specific planters and require no additional tools. All planters are completely assembled at our factory and then broken down into easily assembled units for cost effective shipping.

Large multi section prefabricated modular commercial wood planters with their aluminum frame anchor glass and wood screen wall and gates, without roof penetrations, creating the tenants' favorite amenity, a dog park on the roof deck. Click for Info
Large multi-section prefabricated modular commercial wood planters with their aluminum frame anchor glass and wood screen wall and gates, without roof penetrations, creating the tenants’ favorite amenity, a dog park on the roof deck.

Since every piece is created to within .001″ accuracy, all parts are replaceable, with digital blueprints kept by DeepStream. Damaged pieces are easily replaced, and they may also be reconfigured with alternate connection pieces if needs change over time.

Lightweight modular custom wood planters make landscaping roof terraces possible as seen here atop a commercial building in Boston where they create outdoor dining and lounging spaces for tenants.
Lightweight modular custom wood planters make landscaping roof terraces possible as seen here atop a commercial building in Boston where they create outdoor dining and lounging spaces for tenants.

Repeatability and replacement parts are important to project owners, general contractors, and building management when as-built dimensions that differ from plans cause conflict. DeepStream can make changes overnight and have replacement pieces available the next day, no need to delay that certificate of occupancy.

Modular custom commercial wood planters on the roof terrace of a commercial building in Boston create an outdoor dining space for tenants. Click for info
Modular custom commercial wood planters on the roof terrace of a commercial building in Boston, hide drip irrigation and drainage creating an outdoor dining space for tenants.

The modular nature of DeepStream’s commercial wood planters, with their aluminum frame and independent, rugged planter liners, mean that no extra materials need to be brought up onto the roof decks of high rise buildings, and there will be no construction mess blowing around to clean up and remove later.

The differential height aluminum frame of these commercial wood planters creates a privacy screen wall and supports an integrated trellis with colorful flowers. Click for more info
Midtown Manhattan. The differential height aluminum frame of these commercial wood planters creates a privacy screen wall and supports an integrated trellis.

Even the largest planter installations do not need cranes; they can be brought up on elevators or even stairwells with day labor. This is important as planters are often the last items installed into finished spaces. Smaller planter liners may even be pre-planted.

Commercial Wood Planters, with rugged recycled plastic waterproof liners, on the roof deck of a Chicago restaurant create green dining and lounging areas with an herb garden for the kitchen. Click for more info
Commercial Wood Planters, with rugged recycled plastic waterproof liners, on the roof deck of a Chicago restaurant create green dining and lounging areas with an herb garden for the kitchen.

DeepStream’s self contained commercial planter systems hide drip irrigation, drainage, and even lighting, making it easy and almost instantaneous for you to provide a neat and clean installation for commercial and restaurant spaces above grade.

Ultimately customizable, DeepStream’s commercial wood planters, shown below in white recycled plastic lumber, are a designer’s dream and are an easy answer to complex design challenges.

Commercial Wood Planters, made with white recycled plastic lumber, anchor a low key glass security screen wall around the dining area at the Bob Hope USO under the iconic space age Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport. Click for info
Commercial Wood Planters, made with white recycled plastic lumber, anchor a low key glass security screen wall around the dining area at the Bob Hope USO under the iconic space age Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.

When the designers responsible for the restoration and repurposing of the Bob Hope USO facility, photo above, under the iconic space age central hub at the Los Angeles International Airport needed an equally modern, yet low key, security perimeter, they looked to DeepStream’s commercial wood planters to anchor special clear screen wall panels and integrate an alarmed stainless steel emergency exit seamlessly.

Stand alone individual Commercial Wood Planters anchor glass screen wall create a warm, inviting, upscale outdoor dining area by creating a windbreak and providing a mounting location for lighting. Click for info
Stand alone individual Commercial Wood Planters anchor glass screen wall to create a warm, inviting, upscale outdoor dining area in the windy, foggy San Francisco Bay area by creating a windbreak and providing a mounting location for lighting.

Restaurants, club houses, commercial and private roof decks, golf clubs, hotel pools, and waterparks all have a unique need for beautiful low-key access control that can be easily met using DeepStream’s set-and-forget commercial wood planters that also reduce their maintenance and long-term capital budgets for the lowest cost of ownership over time.

Modular multi section commercial wood planters, in maintenance free recycled plastic lumber, create a lounging area at a Florida resort clubhouse. Click for Info.
Modular multi-section commercial wood planters, in maintenance free recycled plastic lumber, create a lounging area at a Florida resort clubhouse.

DeepStream’s commercial wood planters constructed with recycled plastic lumber reduce the need to cut down trees from tropical rainforests AND for each planter, or planter section, purchased, DeepStream plants 50 trees in our customers’ honor through Trees For the Future.

Trees for the Future. Click for more info at thier website Trees.org

Trees for the Future, trees.org, is a fantastic non-governmental environmental program that will issue a certificate to our customers detailing the forest that you have planted to give more back to the earth than you have taken. DeepStream is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and recycled plastic lumber and planting trees to change lives is a very meaningful contribution that should be a serious consideration when making a purchase, and it may be used in your internal and external marketing programs to let your employees and customers know that you are working towards a better future for the world by sequestering carbon, producing oxygen, and cooling the earth.

Planter Drainage: modern solutions

Planter Drainage starts with Planter Liners

Water in, water out.  Simple, right? However more plants die from lack of planter drainage than under watering and it’s an expensive, time-consuming, waste of time to deal with poorly draining planters that ultimately have to be dug up and remedied.

DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design that is economical to ship.

Planter drainage is often the weakest link in the delicate balance of nature required to maintain planters and container gardens. This article on planter drainage will present the simple physics, costs, and benefits of advanced drainage system alternatives you should know before installing plants in planters.

If your interested in where drainage falls into the larger overall consideration of planter design and construction click here for details on Planter Selection. The solution ultimately comes down to the design of the waterproof planter liner, or container, design, drain placement, and blockage.

For those of you who have not had the benefit of  walking the trade show floor at a Landscape Architect conference, or who did so without this aspect in mind, I will introduce a “high-tech alternatives” that I am incorporating as options into planters I design for DeepStream Designs.  Click: for printed instructions on drainage.

DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with a Trellis acting as privacy screen wall has a tapered waterproof inner liner with advanced drainage that allow the plant to flourish and flower.
DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with a Trellis acting as privacy screen wall has a tapered waterproof inner liner with advanced drainage that allow the plant to flourish and flower. The liner provides separation between the wood and the soil, not only extending the life of the planter by decades, it also keeps the the roots from steaming by the “solar gain” which heats the roots ball.

The Drainage Problem

As a Developer and Property Manager I had to deal with planter drainage problems in large built-in concrete planters, and properties with lots of medium-sized stand-alone planters. I can tell you that it is an expensive, time-consuming, and demoralizing task to deal with poorly draining planters that ultimately have to be dug up and remedied.

As prevalent a role as solar gain-induced thermal shock to root systems plays in stunting or killing container-grown plants, the lack of efficient planter drainage is a far more common reason for failure, at least in rainy climates.   Water-soaked roots from a lack of proper planter drainage can kill a plant in less than 24 hours, whereas baking and steaming roots in a single-wall planter or pot can take weeks, or even months, before the plant finally succumbs.

Here in Florida, storms can dump 6″ of rain in just a few hours, so it is easy to overwhelm a poor planter drainage system, and you can literally see containers overflow the top.  However, long periods of drizzle and gray sky, conditions found on the west coast, combine low evaporation with soaking soil which also subtly builds up fatal water levels in containers without an effective drainage system.

Drain size and blockage

The primary reason for water build up is a malfunctioning watering system, combined with a drain clogged by dirt or roots, NOT too small a drain.

Given that a planter filled with nothing but water 6″ deep will drain at the rate of about a cubic foot per minute through a 3/4″ opening, no amount of rain alone will overwhelm a properly functioning planter drain.  Single-point drains of this size are convenient to use for inconspicuous controlled planter drainage systems on balconies, rooftops, and courtyard patios.  The key to making this work over the long-term is technology and design.

DeepStream rugged waterproof planter liners with advanced drainage
DeepStream rugged waterproof planter liners with advanced drainage and threaded ports are made with 100% recycled food safe LLDPE plastic. Their tapered shape aids replanting and economical shipping.

Issues with built in planters drainage

If you have read the Blog article on Planter Selection and Design, or looked in-depth at the DeepStream Designs’ website planter section, you may remember that the reason I ended up designing free-standing planters was to avoid the structural problems associated with built-in planters:  waterproofed planters built into buildings with poured concrete will at some point succumb to settlement cracks,  as well as drainage issues.  Even the best sprayed, rolled, or troweled-on concrete liner systems I have seen will leak at some point in time, and digging in them doesn’t help.

So if you have plans for specimen plants, or are planting trees that will grow too large for workers to lift by hand, make sure you have crane access to lift the trees, or some way to get forklifts or other types of equipment like tripods in to lift the plants out of the planter for repairs, or to bring in new ones should major plants die. 

Avoid building or buying planters or liners with drains in the bottom where you will have to remove large plants to get at them.  Install a vertical 2″ PVC pipe up to the final soil level, with a removable top to keep soil out, before filling the planter with soil so that you can pump water out in an emergency before the plants drown.

Solutions

Proper planter drainage is the element that the container industry is least likely to talk about, because it is relatively complex and is not readily “packaged” for sale.  Making potential customers of larger pots and containers aware of drainage issues is seen as a negative sell, so it is brushed off with instructions to “Drill a couple of more holes in your pots.”   This is an area in which DeepStream can bring great added-value to its customers.

With that said, the advice to drill more holes falls into the “Just because they said it doesn’t make it not true” department.  It is, in fact, the most cost-effective approach for smaller, easily re-potted plantings that you can lift out, in pots which slope evenly outward as the pot wall moves towards the top.  This simple classic form facilitates the removal of the plant to clean out blocked drainage holes without damaging either the pot or the plant.  Essentially, you are pre-planning for blockage by increasing the size of drains that will be clogged.

Free standing planter drainage

When considering free-standing planters, and larger planter liners hidden behind a decorative facade, keep them small enough to work on.  Break the planted area up using multiple overlapped liners, rather than one big liner with one point of failure and lots of plants to remove to find the problem, or to die in the event of a catastrophe. 

A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems. Drip irrigation lines are inserted through the top of liner walls below soil level.
A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems. Drip irrigation lines are inserted through the top of liner walls below soil level.

It is not just the cost of the plants to consider, but also the considerable disruption and effort to find and remedy the problem.  There is also the mess to clean up, especially on rooftops in urban areas, and the potential for cosmetic damage to the building by workers during the process.

Soil Mixture

Soil mixture is a critical consideration, both for the plant and the building weight limits, as we often find on rooftop and balcony projects.  You are looking for soils that will hold nutrients, PH, and moisture within fairly specific ranges that best suit what is being planted, while at the lowest possible weight.  Very seldom is “dirt” just dumped into a container. 

This soil selection process, done right, eliminates much of the problem caused by “fines”, the small clay-like particles that block filter membranes. Use perlite to increase drainage rates in wet climates or it’s opposite, vermiculite, to retain water in dry climates, under balconies or indoors.

Another drainage consideration is filtration and root blockage.   A planter is really just a shaped French drain.  Small particles of clay (fines) are carried by the gravity-induced water flow downward towards the drain.  Unfiltered, these fines will block any filter membrane in a remarkably short time.  The standard way to create a rough filter well area is to fill the bottom of a planter or pot with a few inches of gravel over a bottom drain.

click for more info on waterproof planter liners within a facade
A waterproof planter liner with advanced drainage within a wood planter box

One key design factor of DeepStream planters is that they uses a liner within a decorative facade. This not only prevents solar gain, but also hides drip irrigation lines and the drain.  This is important in aiding filtration because the drain does not need to be limited to the bottom of a pot as it will quickly clog.

Drain Location

When considering drainage for large planters, and which planter forms to purchase, the first step is drain location:  Realize:  YOU WILL HAVE TO DIG UP OR REPOT YOUR PLANTERS SOMETIME! 

Yes, that’s the dirty secret.  It is inevitable.  The question is: how long can you go between major events.  Even though drainage issues can often be fixed with the plants in place if the planter liner is properly designed with a taper form wider at the top, as DeepStream’s are, it is much more convenient to avoid them, and less costly over the long run as well.

DeepStream’s liners locate the standard 3/4″ drain a couple of inches up the sidewall creating a “well” below the drain.  Fines tend to settle down into this “well”, as water flowing towards the sidewall drain tends to be very slow under most circumstances, so most fines gradually work their way to the bottom.  The well also acts as a small water reservoir for the larger roots.

Advanced drainage solution

DeepStream’s advanced drainage system includes a 4″ by 6″ drain board (think of a thin, uncrushable egg crate covered with geo-textile covering) to increase the drainage surface area.  The drain board comes hot-glued over the drain.  When adding the plants to the planter, be sure not to compress this drainboard against the side of the planter wall with a force or a hard root ball, or it will act as a perfect seal against the drain and stop all water flow.  Additionally, there is a roughly 2 sq ft piece of weed block fabric to be folded over and placed over the drain board as further protection against penetration by roots.

DeepStream Designs advanced 3-layer drain pad created with drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier
DeepStream Designs creates an advanced 3-layer drain pad out of drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier for you so all you have to do to maximize drainage is to place the pad over the DeepStream linner sidewall drain port and hold in place with the appropriate material to slow the flow of water to the drain.
DeepStream Designs commercial grade recycled plastic liners with drain well and threaded outlet, solve planter drainage problems before they start
Solve planter drainage problems before they start. DeepStream Designs commercial grade recycled plastic liners with drain well and threaded 3/4″ NPT outlet for adding hose fitting if required.

Weed Block, as geo-textile is often marketed,  is a misnomer.  The “30-year commercial landscaper” variety you see at the large home centers will have roots growing through it in less than 2 years.  That said, it still helps delay the inevitable, and DeepStream still provides it with the standard drainage kit.

It is highly recommended that the geo-textile fabric is kept in place by the very important filter of at least a 2″ thick covering of very clean, very coarse sand of between 1 and 2 mm particle size.  For reference, the wire of a medium paper clip is 1 mm.  While very coarse sand is hard to find, it is the best filter, although it does nothing to block root penetration.  Masonry or playground sand is too fine and will compact and prevent drainage; pea gravel lets too many fines through, and they will block the filter fabric.

One good and available material, though not perfect, is Paver Base and Pearlite found at Home Depot.  Most of the grains in Paver Base are large enough, but it still has a lot of fines in it but it keeps the Perlite in place well when potting.  The well in DeepStream’s commercial grade planters is plenty deep to handle this without clogging the drain.

While not ideal, paver base is available nationwide at a large home store and is a reasonable planter drainage material to slow the water flow given that DeepStream Designs planter liners have a sump below the drain to catch the "fines"
While not ideal, paver base is available nationwide at a large home store and is a reasonable planter drainage material to slow the water flow given that DeepStream Designs planter liners have a sump below the drain to catch the “fines”

Technology Enhanced Filtration:  Two Steps

The most important aspect of new drainage technology is in preventing root blockage.  DeepStream now offers an optional  root control fabric, BioBarrier (TM) with a plastic-embedded non-systemic herbicide, with a lower toxicity than table salt or aspirin, that creates a 2″ thick root deflection zone around the drainage material by preventing root cell tip division.  The product, guaranteed effective for 15 years, has been used as a weed control system for more than 35 years in agriculture to prevent weed growth between row crops.  Now, with proper filtration, one should be able to go 15 years without digging up a planter, usually a job performed every 2-3 years in heavy rainfall areas.

click picture for more information on advanced planter drainage options
3 part planter liner drain pad with drain board, geo fabric, and Bio-Barrier.

Giant sports stadiums and golf courses, with millions of dollars at stake if drainage fail use high-tech crush-proof mats of plastic tubing covered with geo-textile to ensure a large drainage area and directed water flow to prevent damage to grass and delays in play caused by flooding.

DeepStream now offers this same advantage in its single-point directed flow system uniquely adapted for balconies, roof gardens, interior courtyards and other areas where drainage control is required.   This is lighter, more effective, and allows for deeper planter medium than less effective gravel systems.

Environmental Stewardship

Sea levels continue to rise faster than predicted just a few years ago making environmental stewardship important to coastal communities.

DeepStream Designs has created a full range of sustainably designed garden plantersgreen wall grids, hanging planters,  and site amenities like recycling receptacles and benches made with recycled plastic lumber to make environmental stewardship easy.

DeepStream’s commercial wood Mariner planter system with a hidden aluminum frame, advanced drainage, and Lifetime Structural Warranty

Planters help reduce global warming by providing more environments for plants to absorb carbon and release oxygen while reducing both water usage and the solar gain that heats building walls, roofs, and surrounding pavement.

Click link to DeepStream website for more info on Modern Slate Planter with Trellis
DeepStream’s Modern Audubon Slate Planter with Trellis act as a privacy screen on a Miami roof deck. Lifetime Structural Warranty.

Plants significantly reduce the energy needed to cool buildings. This is a virtuous cycle of environmental stewardship that reduces the fossil fuels used in electricity generation used to provide artificial cooling to the same buildings.

According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), buildings are the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. According to estimates in the AIA’s Architects and Climate Change report, buildings represent 48 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, with transportation and industry representing 27 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Rooftop planters shade a building in Miami preventing it from adding to the urban heat island
Rooftop planters shade a building in Miami preventing it from adding to the urban heat island. Roof gardens clan the air, reduce carbon and energy usage, all are essential ingredients of environmental stewardship.

Estimates in the AIA’s Architects and Climate Change report, are that buildings represent 48 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, with transportation and industry representing 27 percent and 25 percent respectively.

Environmental Stewardship can be as low tech as railing mounted planter box on parking garage walls
Environmental Stewardship can be as low tech as railing mounted planter box on parking garage walls

While science deniers argue global change is normal state and that there is no proof of human impact on climate change, that it is just a normal process humans have no impact on, an overwhelming number of scientists and even industrial leaders and nations disagree.

Climate change may have normal cycles, but there is nothing historically normal about the human population explosion and the impact that their energy consumption and pollution has on the earth’s bio systems.  Many people believe that the individual CAN make a difference.  However, working in conjunction with Architects we could do a lot more.

DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with Trellis
DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with Trellis as a privacy screen

Not only do high concentrations of people in mega-buildings concentrate greenhouse gas, but building these high-density buildings also increases the surface area on, if not of, the earth that can absorb heat. 

It is not just office towers; residential condo towers are creating increasingly dense urban and coastal areas that contribute to the formation of “heat islands” and global warming by adding heat-retaining surface area.   Any city resident knows that it is often 10 degrees warmer in the city than the suburbs or rural areas around them.

Click to DeepStream Website for more info on Commercial Green Wall Planters
Green Wall Planters provide oxygen, sequester carbon, and cool cities. Tournesol green wall available through DeepStream.

 The Green Roof movement is great, but the ratio of wall to roof area is much greater on high-rise buildings.  If Architects designed balconies with drainage and water spigots built into their clients’ high-rise buildings, it would allow residents and offices to help offset their impact to a far greater degree both in terms of cooling and exchanging oxygen for carbon and absorbing other pollutants.

Green Wall Garden Planter cools the building while cleaning the air and giving off oxygen
Green Wall Garden Planter cools the building while cleaning the air and giving off oxygen

Successful landscaping and gardening on balconies and rooftops, especially of condo towers, has many challenges that residents with terrestrial gardens in homes don’t share, especially if the building Architect is not on the same page. 

DeepStream Designs has created a planter system specifically to address all these issues today and make them easy to incorporate even with out architectural help:

Balcony and rooftop gardening, on any scale, is not only fun and beautiful but it really does help offset the greenhouse gas emissions and helps in cooling these heat island and saves on your electric bills. Environmental stewardship is a worthy endeavor within the grasp of individuals using low tech, renewable resources.

link to DeepStream's custom liners with advanced drainage
A large installation of Custom Welded Waterproof Planter Liners on a roof top are compartmentalized to isolate drainage problems. Drip irrigation lines are inserted through the top of liner walls below soil level.
Link to DeepStreams Commercial garden planter liners with advanced drainage in stock and custom sizes.
Waterproof liners with advanced drainage and automatic drip irrigation make commercial roof top “farm-to-table” gardens possible.

When planters, fixtures and site amenities are constructed with recycled plastic lumber it helps the environment in 2 major ways:

  • They create a sustainable market for recycled plastic.
  • The replace the use of rot resistant tropical hardwood helping to eliminate the destruction of the World’s Tropical Rainforests, preserving many reliant species, and the ability to act as the lungs of the earth, cooling the world and providing clean oxygenated air.
Click this picture for a blog about how recycled plastic is helping save the worlds rainforests
Large recycled plastic planters at Fenway Park create a farm-to- table environment where you can watch your salad grow
Click the picture to see more information on how recycled plastic is helping save the Worlds rain forests
Taking farm-to-table to its ultimate expression DeepStream recycled plastic lumber planters with advanced drainage and drip irrigation at Fenway Park Strega Deck

For more information about the urban farming program shown here in Boston at Fenway park just follow this link: Container Garden Fenway Park’s Home Run

Tap for a link to more Benches on DeepStream website
DeepStream’s ergonomic, weatherproof, maintenance free, recycled plastic lumber Perfect Bench. Anodized aluminum and 316-stainless steel, no rust and no paint or powder coating to fail. Lifetime Structural Warranty.

If you have any questions, or there is anything DeepStream’s dedicated American craftspeople can design and build for you using Recycled Plastic Lumber, check out the DeepStream Website or contact us to discuss your project.

click link for more information on Modern commercial Recycled Lumber Recycling and Trash Receptacles
Modern no-maintenance Recycled Plastic Lumber Commercial Combination Trash and Recycling Receptacle with a Lifetime Structural Warranty. No paint or powder coating to fail.

There is never a fee for design or quotes. Sheila Boyce has designed thousands of installations, so she is a great free and friendly resource at your disposal. Call her at: 305 857-0466 or email dsdmiami@gmail.com.

Irrigation is critical for container gardens

Irrigation, along with fertilizing, of container gardens is critical because the containers are closed systems. 

Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones
Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones

The needs of moderate or larger installations are best met with simple drip irrigation and fertilization systems which require no electricity.  Hiding the feeder lines for aesthetic reasons is one of the key features of the containers I design for DeepStream Designs.

While most plants do best with a consistent soil moisture content, many need to dry out between water applications.  Of course, some plants require special over or under irrigation.  A multi-valve multi-line drip irrigation system can use automatic timers to achieve both effortlessly.

The picture above is my manifold setup, which along with the drip irrigation on 4 circuits, was installed in a single  afternoon.

To simplify your irrigation, it is best not to mix plants that may need different types of watering, fertilizing or soil in the same container.

Click for more info on DeepStream Commercial Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber Farm to table roof top garden containers
DeepStream Commercial Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber create a “farm to table” roof top container garden. The drip irrigation lines can be hidden between the outer planter box and the waterproof recycled plastic food safe liner of 100% recycled plastic that rests on a rugged aircraft aluminum frame.

While this concept can also be extended to root depth, in larger planters it can actually work quite well as trees or bushes with deep roots can benefit from the needs of flowers with shallow roots that dry out more quickly to be watered several times a day with a  topical water spray which can augment a deeper root drip irrigation line fed by a line on a different timer.

Generally, I run at least two 1/2″ main irrigation lines to feed perimeter planters:  one for the deep-rooted plants watered by drip irrigation soaker hoses with emitters on 6″ spacings, and another with sprayer and/or misters that either hang from taller trees or bushes or stand on spikes.

In every case, I use in-line micro-valves on every 1/4″ feeder line from the 1/2″ main irrigation line to tailor the water delivery of each line to the planter, as the micro climates of each planter may vary considerably depending on exposure to sun and wind.

DeepStream Commercial Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber create a farm to table roof top garden at Boston's Fenway Park Strega Deck: click for details
DeepStream Commercial Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber create a farm to table roof top garden at Boston’s Fenway Park Strega Deck

Delivering micro-doses of fertilizers on a consistent basis precludes the trough and peak delivery of single monthly doses of liquid fertilizers or the irregular dosing provided by slow-release coated dry fertilizers that depend on rainfall to dissolve.  Plants do better with this type of consistent feeding.

An advantage of installing different main irrigation circuits for different types of plants is that a fertilizer injector system can be installed upstream of the valves.  Running one valve at a time, you can meet the needs of different plant types with different types and proportions of fertilizers with just the flip of a switch.

DeepStream Commercial Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber create a farm to table roof top garden at Boston's Fenway Park Strega Deck
DeepStream Commercial multi-section Wood Planter in Recycled Plastic Lumber create a farm to table roof top garden at Boston’s Fenway Park Strega Deck

A visit to Dripworks’ catalog will give you a good overview of the types of irrigation products available that make this very easy, even systems that work on elevated rain barrels.

Reservoir planters and planter liners are another form of irrigation that will work when you have plantings with similar root structure and no running water.  These system use a bottom up water supply so if you have different plants, some with shallow roots that need more water and others with deep roots that need less they do not work as well as the top down found in nature. Proper drainage is a as important as irrigation as plants quickly drown. It can also be harder to implement.

DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design: Click for details
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design that is economical to ship.

For more information check out DeepStream Design’s solution website. You can also text Sheila at dsdmiami@gmail.com , or call her at 305 857-0466. With the experience of thousands of installation she is a valuable sounding board and friendly resource whether your a homeowner with a single need. or a Landscape Architect or Contractor with large installation challenges.

Wooden Planter Design

DeepStream Planters will last decades while Carpenter built planter construction  will only last 3 to 5 years. 

DeepStream's Commercial Wood Planters have a hidden aluminum frame

DeepStream’s Planters are a 3-part engineered system modular assembly of replaceable parts which incorporates DeepStream’s trademark marine anodized aluminum legs, tropical hardwood or maintenance free recycled plastic lumber panels, and sturdy aircraft aluminum frame that supports a food safe, 100% recycled LLDPE waterproof liner.

Don’t confuse these planters with carpenter built planters that will fall apart in 3 to 5 years. Deep’Streams engineered system internal aluminum frame supporting the liner, with advanced drainage solutions, allows for a Lifetime Structural Warranty. The aluminum frame also allows you to add accessories like casters, screen wall, trellises, and more.

If you’re an owner or manager of a property where a wooden planter will be placed give serious consideration to planter construction techniques. Consider what it will mean in terms of cost and disruption to go back and replace or repair carpenter built planters, especially on rooftops and balconies, every 3 – 5 years.

Click to see more info on DeepStream's 3-component engineered commercial planter system with a hidden aluminum  frame supporting a waterproof liner from trademark marine anodized legs.
DeepStream’s 3-component engineered commercial planter system with a hidden aluminum frame supporting a waterproof liner from trademark marine anodized legs.

With DeepStream’s wooden planter design all parts are replaceable making maintenance, refinishing, and repairs quick and easy.

DeepStream-7 year old unmaintained pre-refinished planter in place with liner removed
DeepStream-7 year old unmaintained pre-refinished planter in place with liner removed
DeepStream 7 year old refinished planter back in place
DeepStream 7 year old refinished planter back in place after sanding off .014″ and applying Ipe Oil.

Even stainless steel fasteners are galvanically isolated by using a proprietary dielectric paste so that they may be removed easily years later to replace parts or refinish the planter easily. the before and after pictures of the 7 year old planter shown in pictures above only had the original coat of factory waterproofing and no maintenance.  The “fresh” look was achieved by sanding off just.014” of the 3/4″ thick planks exterior.

Why? Each plank of a wooden planter is cut from a different part of the tree ,or even different trees. This means each plank has its own differential rate of expansion, splitting, and warping when wetted. This makes dimensional stability using standard wood-on-wood construction in two dimensions impossible to maintain over time, and shipbuilding techniques and maintenance are far too costly for planter construction.

Tropical Hardwood properly maintained will last for decades in DeepStream's aluminum frame while recycled plastic lumber will be maintenance free
DeepStream Ipe planks after 7 years. Unmaintained on left. .014″ sanded off and and oiled on right

Wood on wood planter construction uses carpentry techniques that fasten wood to wood, and planters tear themselves apart with the expansive forces that wood exerts through repeated wet and dry cycles.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters

For centuries, wood dowels have been inserted into holes drilled into rock, then soaked with water. The expansion force of the wood is thus harnessed to crack blocks off marble and granite for construction, even though the blocks are hundreds of times thicker than the thin wooden dowel. This is the same action at work on a carpenter built wood planter splinting seams apart.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters,

In addition, most wood planters lack adequate isolation from the soil and the deck or sidewalk, which promotes fresh water rot, water entering vertical planks creates cracks as you see above and below.

Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters, without proper liners the soil in contact with the wood creates rot.
Problems with carpenter built wood planters
Problems with carpenter built wood planters, rotting from the bottom up.

DeepStream uses proprietary marine anodized legs and stainless steel fasteners to clamp the wood and direct the expansionary forces up the channel so that the wood can expand and contract at different rates without affecting the planter’s structural integrity.

DeepStream Designs proprietary marine anodized extruded aluminum structural legs
DeepStream Design’s proprietary marine anodized extruded aluminum legs are engineered to support a hidden structural aluminum frame which supports the waterproof liner and HDPE feet to isolate the planter from contact with soil and the ground.

Unless directed to do so by a customer, DeepStream never uses paint or powder coating, which will fail in 3-5 years. If you order environmentally friendly maintenance free recycled plastic lumber they may be cleaned with a pressure washer.

7 year old Mariner leg

Virtually blemish free 7 year old proprietary marine anodized aluminum leg after simply wiping down with mineral spirits

Large Wooden Planter: comparing real wood to recycled plastic lumber. Click  to see more about recycled plastic lumber planters
Large Wooden Planter: comparing real wood to recycled plastic lumber

For even lower maintenance cost and greater longevity consider ordering DeepStream’s recycled plastic lumber planters and do your part to save the World’s tropical hardwood rain forests.

The commercial grade rigid plastic liners, mounted on an independent aluminum frame, contain the soil and prevent contact between the soil and the wood, preventing rot.

16 sizes of rugged waterproof stock planter liners and custom welded liners to any size: click the picture for more information
Lightweight wood planters need liners to prevent them from rotting. Here you see 16 stock sizes of rugged waterproof, food safe, plastic planter liners with advanced drainage Custom welded planter liners are available in any size.

The waterproof planter liner with advanced drainage is an important feature of DeepStream’s commercial planter system. Container grown bushes, small trees, and perennials require repotting from time to time and DeepStream’s liners tapered shape allow for easy replanting and conditioning in the spring.

Choosing Garden Planters

There are several issues to consider when choosing a garden planter.  Start with aesthetics, how it functions, and the cost value relationship.

In some difficult situations such as high winds where stability is paramount, or south and west facing locations with intense sun where there needs to be a air gap between the planter box and the liner to keep the root ball from overheating, you will have less options when choosing a garden planter.

Choosing a garden planter Large Wood Sidewalk Cafe Planter: click this link for a more detailed comparison of materials and design criteria.
When Choosing a garden planters function is as important as aesthetics. Self contained Cafe Planter such as these, with waterproof liners and advanced drainage, allow for cleaning underneath preventing pests and health code violations and the narrow design doesn’t take up valuable space. Another option is full dept planter boxes on casters.

You also need to determine the types of plants you want and what their soil, drainage and watering requirements are. Local Landscape Architects, landscape maintenance companies, or your local nurseries can give you good advice.

Choosing a garden planter Large Rectangular Wood Restaurant Patio Planter with glass windbreak: click for more details.
Choosing a movable DeepStream commercial restaurant planter with glass screen wall provides a windbreaks, controlling access, quieting noise, expanding social distancing space while extending the outdoor season.

When choosing a garden planter remember that it will affect your choice of plants which is determined by soil volume as well as sun and watering requirements All these consideration directly influence the planter liner depth and width so that your plants grow well as they mature and will not require a lot of extra maintenance.

If you’re thinking of planters that require a waterproof inner liner, pick a planter with a stock molded liner size first, otherwise you may find yourself limited to more expensive custom-welded liners. While all wood planters require a seperate waterproof liner not all wood planters are alike.

Wood planters built with carpenter techniques will fall apart in 3-5 years while DeepStream’s 3-component wooden planter systems have a Lifetime Structural Warranty. Longevity is provided by a hidden structural aluminum frame mounted to proprietary trademark anodized aluminum legs, no paint or powder coating to fail, which are engineered to contain the woods countless wet and dry cycles over decades. The systems has a separate waterproof liner with advanced drainage to prevent contact between the wood and planting medium while also providing an air gap to prevent solar gain from overheating the root ball, the gap can also be used to hides drip irrigation lines and electrical conduit for lights.

Another consideration should not be just the initial cost of the planter, you should consider the lifetime cost of the planter in terms of maintenance, replacement, and plant health. DeepStream’s planters have been designed and constructed using the principles of Sustainable Design to provide the lowest cost of ownership to both the customer and the environment over time.

DeepStream's Large Lightweight Wood Planter System
DeepStream’s Commercial Wood Planters with a Lifetime Structural Warranty are lightweight self-contained engineered system comprised of a wood planter box, structural aluminum frame, and waterproof planter liner with advanced drainage.

Follow this link to review the comparative attributes of the various planter types to consider when choosing a garden planter, including wood, fiberglass, concrete, metal, ceramic and plastic: https://planterblog.com

DeepStream's Large square Commercial Wood Planters for Trees use maintenance free recycled plastic lumber inside thier aluminum frames: click for more info
DeepStream’s Large square Commercial Planters made with recycled plastic lumber are strong enough to hold trees thanks to their hidden structural aluminum frames and plastic planter liners.

Functional considerations for choosing a garden planter and plants, to name but a few, include:

  • What are the dimensions of the space you have for planter placement?
  • Do you need long planter runs or individual planters?
  • Will the planters be placed on the ground, or on a building level that has weight restrictions?
  • Will they be placed on a hard or soft surface?
  • Will they be in a sheltered or windy location? Stability is a function of form.
  • Will you be planting annuals or perennials? This will affect your choice of planting medium.
  • What is the planting volume (liner size) required for the plants to thrive?
  • How will you water your plants, by hand or drip irrigation?
  • Drainage: what happens when they drain or overflow? If they are used outdoors, the size quantity and placement of drainage holes depend on heaviest rainfall amounts in your area. Indoors or on a balcony your planters may require plugs in liner drains, “directed” drainage, or drip trays.
  • Will the planters be located where they are easy to install and maintain, or will you be moving everything through lobbies and elevators where permission will be required and other residents inconvenienced by your installation and repeat installations should your planters need to be replaced in a few years?
  • Will you want to add accessories like a trellis, windbreak, or casters?
  • Are sustainability, replacement parts, and a Warranty important to you?
  • Delivery time
Large Rectangular Wood Planter
Large Rectangular Wood Planter

For assistance in choosing a garden planter, or answering these and any other questions you might have, feel free to call Sheila at DeepStream, 305 857 0466 and we will walk you through our 32 point check list designed to save you time and money or go to www.DeepStreamDesign.com

Click for more information on planter liners and drip trays
A rugged waterproof planter liner with properly designed tapered sides and a threaded drain hole for directed drainage attachments or a plug. When used indoors or on a balcony the liner sits inside a drip tray that will be hidden by the outer box. The drip tray is proportioned to catch overflow and evaporate it rather than stain decks or floors.

Which ever planter you decide to go with take these considerations into account as they will greatly affect the success of your garden and gardening experience. More detailed information on the key aspect of successful container landscaping can be found on these additional subject pages:

Irrigation for container gardens

Planter Drainage

“Dirt” vs Planting Mix

Restaurant planter windbreaks

Restaurant planter windbreaks create an inviting atmosphere for customers at your sidewalk cafe or restaurant patio.

DeepStream makes many high quality fixtures to complement restaurant planters with windbreaks. These include trash and recycling bins, valet stands, point-of sale enclosures, waiter and bussing stations are also available.

Click for more info on DeepStream Commercial restaurant planter with glass screen wall windbreaks
DeepStream Commercial restaurant planter with glass screen wall windbreaks create a fine dining experience adding social distancing space together on a civic plaza

DeepStream Designs’ American craftsmen hand build your custom restaurant planters with glass windbreaks and restaurant fixtures to meet your specific needs.  Custom restaurant fixtures, not custom prices, there is never a design fee or upcharge.

Whether you are creating a sidewalk cafe on a busy street, or quiet courtyard space, DeepStream knows it is critical that your potential customer receive an inviting visual message from the space created by our Restaurant Planters.  The hand crafted quality of these planters outside your business display your commitment to a quality dining experience in store for them inside or out.

Click for more info on Movable Commercial Wooden Ipe restaurant planters with glass screen wall windbreak
Movable Commercial Wooden Ipe restaurant planters with glass screen wall windbreak

Planters overflowing with flowering plants, not only welcome your existing customers, they offer a compelling invitation to new customer.  Restaurant  planters with windbreaks not only extend your outdoor seating seasons they also reduce street noise in urban settings.

Engineered using the principle of sustainable design DeepStreams’ restaurant fixtures stand the test of time and are backed with a Lifetime Structural Warranty. All parts are replaceable so should something be damaged you can replace the part at manufactures direct cost through DeepStreams’ unique Core Replacement Program.

Large Wood Restaurant Planter glass windbreak
DeepStream’s Commercial Wood Restaurant Planter anchor glass screen wall to creates a windbreak, attract customers, controls access, while providing additional social distancing space together, quieting noise and extending the outdoor season.

There are many options availble to meet your needs. One popular option is recycled plastic lumber which requires no maintenance. Another option, casters, allow even large fixtures to be repositioned to serve customers or create attractive access control points and intimate spaces for wedding and other special events.  Lightweight gates are available to meet Life Safety requirements.

Click for more info on Custom Restaurant Fixtures exterior grade cabinetry with drawers and shelves on casters.
Custom Restaurant Fixtures exterior grade cabinetry with drawers and shelves, and large planters on casters create an upscale outdoor dining experiences even in a parking lot.
Click for more info on Custom Restaurant Fixtures, exterior grade cabinetry with drawers along with a combination trash and recycling receptacle  set the tone for this high end restaurants outdoor dining space.
Custom Restaurant Fixtures, exterior grade cabinetry with drawers, along with a combination trash and recycling receptacle, set the tone for this high end restaurant’s outdoor dining space.
Click for more info on DeepStream movable commercial planter walls create a upscale outdoor tropical restaurant and DeepStream's custom restaurant fixtures
DeepStream movable commercial planter walls create a upscale outdoor tropical restaurant and DeepStream’s custom recycling and trash receptacle

Weatherproof outdoor restaurant fixtures can help set the overall quality presentation of your outdoor dining experience to match your dedication to your food and interior ambiance.

Click for more info on DeepStream movable commercial planter walls create a upscale outdoor restaurant
Food Service Carts, Garden Planters, Trash and Recycling Bins for Restaurants

For more information about why DeepStreams’ quality product and why they will last for decades instead of falling apart in a couple of years like carpenter built wood planters click here.

Click for more info about DeepStream Commercial restaurant planter with aluminum screen walls
DeepStream’s Commercial Planter anchored Aluminum Screen Wall Enclosure adds an instant smoking section for this restaurant.

For more information on custom restaurant planters and fixtures without custom design fees Click Here.

Spring Conditioning Planter Liners

DeepStream Design’s rugged plastic planter liners make spring conditioning easy.

Perennial plants grown in planter liners have special needs.  With spring here in Miami, I’ve noticed that it’s well past time to repot some of my smaller ornamental plants.  Others plants like Clusia have very aggressive roots and liners need to be removed and roots trimmed every year.

Tools Needed:

You need to remove plants from their planter liners periodically to alleviate their root bound condition. This give you the opportunity to add fresh potting medium. You will also check that the liner is draining efficiently.  DeepStream Designs rugged plastic liner is flared making this a easy with just a few tools: A long serrated knife, perhaps scissors, a tarp, a broom, and dust pan. Cut off the bottom third of the root system, then break up the root ball as much as possible.

Remove the bottom third of the root ball
Container Gardening Root Bound

Drainage:

I’m using rubber mulch this year in my drainage plan for ornamentals, but not in my herb or citrus garden planters. because it is lighter than pebbles or gravel used in traditional drainage plans. This makes it ideal to reduce the load on your balcony or rooftop if you don’t need the weight of gravel to keep your pots from tipping in high winds.

I use rubber mulch to fill the bottom of my pots and liners up to the level above the top of my drain, about 3”-4”, after I put in DeepStream’s drain pads (drain board, Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage, and geo-fabric sandwich) in place over the drain hole and cover that with 4” of Paver Base (very coarse 2mm sand) or even rubber mulch in a pinch as I did this year.

Planting Medium

Your potting medium will depend on your climate and your plants, as well as the type of drainage and watering system you’re using.  We use drip irrigation and mist sprayers on timers. In Miami where we can get 6″ of rain in 6 hours I use a fast-draining medium to which I add perlite and paver base to further increase drainage rates.  You tailor your soil in dry climates by adding vermiculite to retain moisture .

container gardening repotting supplies
Container gardening requires a few simple repotting supplies. Don’t forget a tarp, broom, and dust pan.

Watering:

I installed micro valves on every planter liner so that I can adjust the rate of watering for each planter liner.  Reduce the flow to the point that water does not seep out the drain except when it rains.

Click on the picture to go to DripWorks website to order all the parts you need to install drip irrigation. It’s a very informative and complete website, cost competitive, and their system are plug and play easy to install.

Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones.  Click pic to link to DripWorks website for more information.
Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones.

Repotting large plants:

With the Clusia the the steps are almost identical.

accessing the planter liner for spring conditioning
Lay the planter over on a padded surface and slide the liner out.
Remove roots growing over the sides of the planter liner if the liner won't slide out.
Remove roots growing over the sides of the planter liner if the liner won’t slide out
The planter, planter liner, and planter drainage design all play an important role in planting maintenance and root trimming.
A bulging planter liner indicates it's time for root pruning
A bulging planter liner indicates it’s time for root pruning, it’s roots like these Calusia that have torn apart large pre-columbian temples in Central and South America.

Removed the plant from the liner to trim the the larger roots easily,  The tapered shape of DeepStream liners makes it easy to simply slide the root ball from the liner to trim and replant.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base, rubber mulch, or similar mediums slow water flow, improving planter drainage by allowing “fines” that can clog the drain to settled below the side drain.

Before repotting add a DeepStream’s 3 part-part planter drain pad with Bio-Barrier over the drain holes to aid in root blocking and to retain the planting medium and slow the flow of the water towards of the drain.

DeepStream Designs advanced 3-layer drain pad created with drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier
DeepStream Designs creates an advanced 3-layer drain pad out of drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier for you so all you have to do to maximize drainage is to place the pad over the DeepStream linner sidewall drain port and hold in place with the appropriate material to slow the flow of water to the drain.

Hold the drain pad in place over the hole, fabric side against the hole, with paver base or similar coarse medium, never sand, with out any clay in it. You can even use rubber mulch in a pinch.

Planter Liner after root trimmed
Planter Liner after root trimmed

With all the roots trimmed for the year your plant and planter liner shape should be restored for another year.

Selecting tapered planter liners with the drainage features your project requires will save you time, money, and effort. Read more specifics about Selecting-planter-liners and here is a video link showing how quick easy it can be to replant.

Happy gardening! Tom

Container Garden Fenway Park’s Home Run

large wood garden planter with drip irrigation

Boston’s Green City Growers working with the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park brought Fenway Farms container garden to Red Sox Nation and give back to the Community.

A container garden, installed and launched for opening day of the 2015 season, Fenway Farms’ 5,000 square foot roof deck over the Front Office provides fresh, organically grown vegetables and fruit to Red Sox fans dining at Fenway Park’s EMC Club restaurant.

Not just for show, a meaningful 5,900 pounds of fresh produce – everything from kale to broccoli to hot peppers – are harvested from the container garden each growing season at innovative Fenway Farms to give back to the community!

Fenway Stadium Container Garden
Fenway Stadium Container Garden

Green City Growers partnered with Recover Green Roofs, to bring farming to the roof of Fenway Park.  Recover Green Roofs is the Somerville-based green roofing company that installed Fenway Farms. Recover Green Roofs was responsible for getting the soil on the roof, while Green City Growers is responsible for the farming operation.  Donations to the community are handled by Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

Around the corner on the Strega Deck, more produce is grown in an upscale event space behind the private corporate suites. DeepStream Designs, founded to provide an alternative to the wasteful use of tropical hardwood lumber, was selected to provide the light-weight, cost saving multi-section aluminum planter frame system fitted with recycled HDPE lumber planks, recycled from milk bottles.

Because Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters are the perfect environmental choice saving maintenance costs as well as the environment their sales have overtaken those of natural tropical hardwood.  Environmental Stewardship is at the heart of many green roof projects.

large recycled plastic lumber planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega Deck
large recycled plastic lumber planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega Deck

These attractive container garden planters have an internal plastic liner and hide drip irrigation lines, and their aluminum structural design ensures the planters will last for decades.  The liner-within-the planter design also provides a thermal break so that the root systems never overheat from solar gain.

large rectangular planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega deck
large rectangular planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega deck
large rectangular planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega deck
large rectangular planters growing produce on Fenway Stadium Strega deck

The Strega Deck opened in 2016. It is a Fenway Farms-inspired event venue that is rented out as part of ticket packages and for special events. The produce grown on the Strega Deck in container gardens is donated to the community by Green City Growers’ food rescue partner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls.

Fenway Park Garden in Deepstream rectangular recycled plastic lumber planters
Fenway Park Garden in Deepstream rectangular recycled plastic lumber planters

DeepStream Designs is a Miami-based design and manufacturing company using American craftsmen to build these durable planters for container gardens, as well as recycling and trash bins, and a host of custom products, all of which feature a Lifetime Structural Warranty.

DeepStream’s modular planter design is a result of DeepStream’s commitment to Environmental Stewardship which uses the principles of Sustainable Design.  This approach ensures the lowest total impact on the environment over time as well as the lowest total cost of ownership while making it easy to install, correct mistakes, and adapt to changing needs.

Growing vegetables in DeepStream planters at Fenway park Strega Deck
Growing vegetables in DeepStream planters at Fenway park Strega Deck

DeepStream has partnered with Trees for the Future to plant 50 trees for every planter sold and 100 trees for every bin. DeepStream has now planted more than 375,000 trees through this extremely efficient non-profit.  For more information check out Trees.org.

Garden Planters for Privacy

Garden planters for privacy on rooftops and balconies can also hide unsightly objects and provide a windbreak.

DeepStream, your planter expert, sells Garden Planters for Privacy factory direct and back them with a Lifetime-Structural-Warranty.  DeepStream’s planters use trademark proprietary marine anodized aluminum extrusions that accept wood planks, aluminum slats, plastic panel, or even glass for screen walls that set up quickly.

Click for DeepStream's solutions website for more information on the differential height aluminum frame of these commercial wood planters that create a privacy screen wall and support an integrated trellis with colorful flowers
DeepStream’s trademark marine anodized aluminum frame integrates differential height legs to create this commercial wood planter-anchored privacy screen wall.

Using DeepStream’s large wood garden planter for privacy screen, and matching wood trash bins, these owners have made a cozy Manhattan rooftop patio that will endure for decades.

Using DeepStream's large wood garden planters for privacy, and matching wood trash bins, these owners have made a cozy Manhattan rooftop patio that will endure for decades.
Using DeepStream’s multi-section wood garden planters for privacy, and matching wood trash bins, these owners have made a cozy Manhattan rooftop patio that will endure for decades.

DeepStream Mariner planters are a 3-part engineered system for maximum longevity and landscaping health. Trademark marine anodized aluminum extrusions provide the structure for a hidden aircraft aluminum frame that contains the tremendous forces of the wood as it goes through an endless cycles of wetting and drying, expanding and contracting, that tears apart carpenter built wood planters,.

The frame is engineered to mount options like gates, casters, and planters with trellises which make colorful screen walls for privacy.

DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with Trellis
DeepStream Wood Garden Planter with Trellis as a privacy screen

The wood, or recycled plastic lumber, planter boxes protect the roots in the liners from over heating due to solar gain as can happen in single wall fiberglass, metal, or plastic planters and pots.

The rugged waterproof plastic liner with advanced drainage protects the wood planter box from the soil and the plants from drowning.  Drip irrigation lines can be hidden between the liner and the planter box.

16 sizes of rugged waterproof stock planter liners and custom welded liners to any size: click the picture for more information
Lightweight wood planters need liners to prevent them from rotting. Here you see 16 stock sizes of rugged waterproof, food safe, plastic planter liners with advanced drainage Custom welded planter liners are available in any size.

Long runs of planter anchored screen wall are easy and cost effective to erect even on urban rooftops.  Modular design allows each section to be set up in 10-15 minutes, all you need is a Phillips screwdriver and a 7/16″ wrench.  All parts are replaceable at direct factory cost should a part ever be damage.

DeepStream Designs lightweight complete modular multi-section planter system with maintenance free recycled plastic lumber, installs quickly, reduces maintenance labor saving and lasts for decades
DeepStream Commercial Multi-Section planters are perfect for urban roof decks where its expensive to maintain and replace planters standard planters.

Because the planters are pre-assembled using an inner frame and legs of marine anodized aluminum there is no messy installation as with carpenter built wood planters and less materials have to be moved to your roof or balcony.

Large Garden Planters with rugged waterproof plastic liner
Large Garden Planters with rugged waterproof plastic liner

The modular design also mean that you can use the elevator or even stairs to move your planters to the roof, not cranes.

Using DeepStream's large wood garden planters with privacy screen, and matching wood trash bins, these owners have made a cozy Manhattan rooftop patio that will endure for decades.
Using DeepStream’s large wood garden planters with privacy screen, and matching wood trash bins, these owners have made a cozy Manhattan rooftop patio that will endure for decades.

Condo owners with a balcony can also use planters for privacy by anchoring a full screen wall.

DeepStream planter for privacy on balcony
DeepStream planters anchor a 3form screen wall for privacy on balcony

Planters with an integral glass windbreak can be used to reduce street noise and create an inviting space for dining and drinking, extending the outdoor season and drawing in customers. 

Large Wood Planter for privacy created with a glass screen wall
Large Wood Planter with glass windbreak

For more information go to DeepStream Design’s solutions website at www.DeepStreamDesign.com or call Sheila at (305) 857-0466.

Fiberglass Planters

Harlie Commercial Fiberglass Planters, designed by by Luxbox Design built by Tournesol.

Fiberglass Planters offer a variety of designs and are a cost-effective medium-term solution available in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website for more info on Fiberglass Urban-Tall Garden Planters
Landscape Architect-quality Fiberglass planters distributed by DeepStream

If you need a rugged planter to which you can attach accessories, then DeepStream’s own wood and recycled plastic lumber planters, created using the principles of sustainable design, may be a better solution than fiberglass planters.

More durable than other planters, but more limited in form, DeepStream’s commercial wood and aluminum planters deliver excellent value for money. With a Lifetime Structural Warranty, they reduce the overall effort and time that goes into bringing vibrant gardens to barren urban spaces in need of their beneficial cooling and air quality enhancing properties.  

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website more info on Fiberglass Wilshire Garden Planters
Landscape Architect-quality Fiberglass planters distributed by DeepStream

However, if you need more options in terms of form and style, three of the best alternatives to wooden garden planters are Fiberglass-reinforced Plastic (FRP), Glass-fiber-reinforced Concrete (GFRC), and Aluminum. It is important to understand that products manufactured with these materials run the scale from virtually worthless to the quality that Landscape Architects specify for signature projects.  

Village GFRC Planters in Aged Bronze
Round Village GFRC Planters, shown in Aged Bronze, are also available in square shapes.

There are a lot of considerations that go into choosing the right planter for a particular location including: form, root ball heating, and drainage, as well as the inherent limitations of materials and construction methods.  You will find a detailed discussion of the issues with a lot of supporting pictures in my earlier blog entry, Planter Selection, so I’ll not repeat them here.  

Fiberglass is an excellent lightweight material with which to create interesting modern planter forms and surfaces such as an outer gelcoat infused with metal, which oxidizes over time, a favorite of mine for its understated elegance.  You will find a myriad of forms and sizes available on the DeepStream website, and while there are four metal finishes, my favorites are the copper and bronze.

Craftsman FRP Planters with bronze metal-infused finish
Landscape Architect-quality FRP garden planters distributed by DeepStream

Tournesol planters distributed by DeepStream are made with expensive polyester-based fiberglass strands as used in yacht construction, but it is chopped and sprayed, not laid up in biaxial mats, where the hull has constant exposure to water. This Fiberglass-reinforced Plastic (FRP) is sprayed into molds that have been prepared with gel-coat.

Modern round fiberglass garden planter - Aquarian
Landscape Architect-quality fiberglass garden planter distributed by DeepStream

FRP is a lightweight, strong material made up of layers of polyester resin alternated with glass strand. The strength and durability of fiberglass depend upon the number of layers of resin and glass. To ensure the longevity of the planters, they are waterproofed with an additional layer of black gelcoat resin inside.

The large rectangular commercial-grade movable Fiberglass Planters in the photos below were supplied by DeepStream to the restaurant operator at New York’s Rockefeller Center.  The planters rest on caster bases so that they may be rearranged to meet the operators changing needs. At summer’s end, they are simply rolled away to storage to reopen the famous ice skating rink during the winter season. 

Click for a link to DeepStream's Desktop Website and more info on large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Design
large movable fiberglass planters on casters
Rockefeller Center: large movable fiberglass planters on casters provided by DeepStream Designs

Issues with Fiberglass Planters

Fiberglass planters are lightweight and strong for their weight and thickness, but they are rigid and brittle. While the fiberglass planters we sell have a 3-year warranty, a 1-year warranty is more common.

Although the planters shown in the pictures below ARE NOT the fiberglass planters we sell, you need to be aware that all fiberglass planters are brittle, unlike wood or aluminum. Looking closely, you can see the vertical cracks that are developing over the edge in the center of this planter’s stiffening flange as the roots push out. Once the flange goes it leads to a catastrophic splitting failure, as the flange is responsible for structural strength.

Fiberglass planters are brittle. Without looking closely, you can't see the vertical cracks that are developing.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Without looking closely, you can’t see the vertical cracks that are developing that will lead to total planter failure in just a short time.
Fiberglass planters are brittle.  Corners and the middle section are the first to go.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Corners and the middle section are the first to go. The top flange is what stiffens the planter walls, and once they crack, it leads to catastrophic failure. This is why even the best fiberglass planters have just a 3-year warranty.

When roots push out against the side walls, first the flange cracks, then the long side panels spit vertically. While it is possible to prevent this in construction, it is costly. Currently most of these “me too” planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials. 

Fiberglass planters are brittle. Looking closely you can see the vertical cracks that are developing.
Fiberglass planters are brittle. Looking closely, you can see the vertical cracks that are developing over the edge as the roots push out which will lead to a catastrophic failure. This is why even the best fiberglass planters have just a 3-year warranty.

Most fiberglass planters are light at the expense of strength and may not be durable enough for certain location.  This is why even the best manufacturers provide just a 3-year warranty.

In addition, fiberglass planters are almost all single-walled and prone to solar gain. White or light-colored finishes would be better in sunny locations.  They do not have drainage control, nor do they hide drip irrigation lines. 

The large expensive planters shown below are installed in Miami’s downtown area and, while shaded by buildings, they are not really rugged enough for the streetscapes in which they are installed, nor do they have much surface area.  Believe it or not, these planters are just 1/8″ thick painted skins of chopped fiberglass sprayed into a mold.

Fiberglass planters are thin, lightweight and strong, but are brittle and prone to damage
Fiberglass planters are thin, lightweight and strong, but are brittle and prone to damage
While most "me too" planters are lightweight at the expense of strength, they may not be durable enough for certain locations.  Currently most fiberglass planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials.
This one passes the 6-foot test, but look closely. While these planters are lightweight at the expense of strength, they may not be durable enough for certain locations. Currently most of these “me too” planter manufacturers are competing on price, with Indian and Chinese imports skimping on materials.
Light and relatively inexpensive planters of this type are brittle and easily damaged, and can be split by roots.
Light and relatively inexpensive planters are brittle and easily damaged, and can be split by roots, even when not damaged like the planter above.

Sustainable Garden Planter Design: Adaptability

A key component of sustainable garden planter design is adaptability: good design allows for the replacement, or reworking, of components to preserve the value and materials of an earlier design when a situation requires it.  Even if that situation arises early in the life cycle of a design.

Nowhere is the need for the design adaptability aspect of sustainable garden planter design more apparent than when an error has been made on large complex projects. Simple miscalculation between initial measurements and “as-built” dimension means that components ordered months earlier in a project do not fit when finally installed.

You can see in the example of sustainable garden planter design adaptability below, exactly how DeepStream’s modular planter design allowed us to cut down the lengths of planks in the middle section of a multi-section planter to accommodate an unrecorded change in dimensions at very little cost in dollars, labor, or materials.

While the wood will take a week or so to fade to the match the color or the original wood, the same design feature allows for replacement of parts, or further adaptation, for the decades long life of the planter.

sustainable garden planter design modular rectangular wood planters
Ooops! Sustainable Garden Planter Design allows for low cost corrections

Was it an error on the plans or an installation variance?  It won’t matter who was to blame when the adaptability of DeepStreams sustainable garden planter design makes it quick and easy to make even major changes.  DeepStream is American craftsmen hand building custom planters that reduce your stress and allow for a successful project to come in on budget and on time.

sustainable garden planter design modular rectangular wood planters
Sustainable Garden Planter Design                                         modular rectangular wood planters joined by a new infill section

As an experienced condo developer and GC, we designed our products to make it easy for you to specify our sustainable garden planter designs.  Just call Sheila at (305) 857-0466 and enjoy a successful stress free out of your garden planter, screen wall, or custom fixtures.  As the hands-on president of Deepstream, with thousands of product installations, Sheila and her team are a vast wealth of current industry knowledge and resources.

Sustainable Garden Planter Design waterproof plastic planter liner inside wooden planter box
Sustainable Garden Planter Design: rugged waterproof liner inside wooden planter box contained by trademark aluminum legs

All of DeepStream’s sustainable garden planter designs use a rugged waterproof plastic liner inside of the planter box, resting on marine anodized aluminum frames and legs, to ensure that planters last for decades.  There is no paint or powder coating to fail.

Unlike carpenter built planters DeepStream planters  carry a Lifetime Structural Warranty and all parts are replaceable and available at factory cost under DeepStream’s unique “Core Replacement Program”.

This type of liner inside of a wooden planter box, sustainable garden planter design also prevents solar gain from overheating the planter root ball which affects any single wall planter or pot. This design also creates a space to run drip irrigation lines and directed drainage.

measuring planter solar gain
measuring solar gain on the exterior of a planter

To find out more about how the principal of Sustainable Garden Planter Design can work to make your project stress-free and successful go to www.DeepStreamDesign.com

Selecting Planter Liners

Selecting planter liners with the features your project requires will save you time, money, and effort.

DeepStream's rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners tapered design, with advanced drainage, makes them easy plant and economical to ship: click for detailed info and prices.
DeepStream’s rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners tapered design, with advanced drainage, makes them easy plant and economical to ship.

Major considerations when selecting planter liners are the shape of the planter, the material the liner is constructed with, the location of drain(s), and size relative to your landscaping requirements.

  1.  Selecting planter liners with a shape tapering to a smaller base makes for repotting slip-out easy and if they stack then you save money shipping.
  2.  Rugged commercial grade 3/16″ walls from UV-stable, 100% pre-consumer recycled low-density polyethylene, or polypropylene are both flexible and food-safe, they will last decades in the sun and unburden landfills as they are recyclable materials.
  3.  Side wall, not bottom drain, aids drainage. Is the drain threaded for proper drainage systems accessories if required by your locations.
  4.  There is a water reservoir below the drain for the tap root while providing a place for “fines” or clay to settle to prevent drain blockage.
  5. Liner depth is determined by the requirement of the plants you have selected.
DeepStream's tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage: click for drain pad details
DeepStream’s tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage

An important consideration to successful landscaping in planters is starting with the right soil mixture and drainage for your plants.

  1. You want your container to drain well while retaining moisture but not hold water. Do not use “dirt” or any material with clay which will block drains.  Perlite is a good light weight additive if your trying to improve quick drainage, Vermiculite if your trying to retain moisture. Very course sand, like commercially available “paver base” if you need weight to prevent toppling in high winds but not fine “beach” or “mortar” sand as they will immediately block your drains.  Remember many plants have specific soil PH needs.
  2. Geo-textile fabric and drain board to provide filtration and space over drain.
  3.  BioBarrier (TM) with a plastic-embedded non-systemic herbicide, with a lower toxicity than table salt or aspirin, that creates a 2″ thick root deflection zone around the drainage material by preventing root cell tip division. The product, guaranteed effective for 15 years, has been used as a weed control system for more than 35 years in agriculture to prevent weed growth between row crops.  Drainage pads are placed over the drain hole.
  4.  To prevent clogging you need to slow the water so that the fines in the planting medium settle to the bottom and not onto the filter medium. When selecting planter liners pick one with sidewall drainage, not on the bottom. This is an integral part of the drainage system as it allows the “fines” to settle to the bottom below the sidewall drain. Traditional pea gravel is too large and the water will flow rapidly to the drain and clog it with fines.  Fine sand will flow too slow and form an impenetrable layer clogging with fines. There is no need to put rocks or gravel in the bottom of a plastic pot, it only raises the water table.

It is best to use a 2 to 4 inch thick covering of very clean, very coarse sand of between 1 and 2 mm particle size mounded over the drain filter.   For reference, the wire of a medium paper clip is 1 mm. We have had good results here in Florida with “rubber mulch”, but then we can get 6″ of rain in one day.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage

“Paver Base” is an acceptable readily available alternative from most large home improvement stores and will work in our planter liners with a side drain as the well below it provides a place for fines to settle.  Rubber mulch may also work for you.

Planter Drainage: Modern Solutions

Irrigation is Critical for Container Gardening

Spring Conditioning Planter Liners

GFRC Concrete Planters

GFRC Concrete Planters,  fiberglass reinforced concrete, are a durable solution for streetscapes where additional weight is required.

GFRC Concrete Planters, at six to seven times heavier than fiberglass planters, are still much lighter than concrete planters with problematic steel rebar reinforcement and a lot more durable.

Click for more information on DeepStream Wilshire round commercial GFRC concrete Planters
Wishire Round Commercial GFRC Concrete Planters

GFRC Concrete Planters are created by adding long-strand glass fibers and woven mat to concrete. This strengthens the material, decreasing the required thickness. Fiberglass decreases the thickness by 60% (from typically 3” in cast concrete to 1” in GFRC Concrete) directly reducing the weight by the same amount.  

Click for more information on DeepStream Wilshire Square GFRC Concrete Planter
DeepStream Wilshire Square GFRC Concrete Planter

More importantly the fiberglass eliminates the steel rebar that eventually rusts and breaks the planter apart from inside through a process called spalling as the rusting metal expands as you can see by following this link to Planter Selection where you will find detailed comparative information about all planter materials and construction types.

Click for more information on DeepStream Design's Downtown GFRC Concrete Planters
Fiberglass and GFRC Downtown Concrete Planters

There are two primary reason to choose GFRC Concrete planters.  First, they are very strong, heavy, and rigid. Second, they offer the aesthetic choice of the two different finishes – travertine and acid etched.  The travertine finish has a rustic, puckered appearance.  The acid etch has a consistent, fine sand texture. All colors are integral to the material and will effectively hide chipping and scratching.

Click for more infor on DeepStream Downtown Commercial Fiberglass and GFRC Concrete Planters by Tornesole Siteworks
DeepStream Downtown Commercial Fiberglass and GFRC Concrete Planters

As a high volume national distributor of Tournesol Siteworks products for the past 15 years DeepStream has had a very good experience with their entire modern GFRC Concrete Planter line. Tournesol has an extensive product line of commercial grade planters that Landscape Architects and landscapers have used for 30+ years. They back their GFRC Concrete Planters with a 3-year warranty.

Click for more information on DeepStream Design's Downtown GFRC Concrete Planters
DeepStream Design’s Downtown GFRC Concrete Planters

Click on the the pictures or the link below to see more information on commercial GFRC grade Concrete Planters and place orders.  DeepStream Designs.

Click for more information DeepStream Metro GFRC Concrete Planter
DeepStream Metro GFRC Concrete Planter in oxide color
Click for more info on DeepStream Zena Saucer Commercial Fiberglass and GFRC Concrete Planter
DeepStream Zena Saucer Commercial Fiberglass and GFRC Concrete Planter

In an era of droughts, this information on Drip Irrigation and Container Gardening is especially important.

This blog page answers your questions about the best Planting Mix for your climate and why you never use dirt or soil for container gardening in pots or planters.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Café Planters and Fixtures

Custom restaurant patio and sidewalk café planters and fixture are an operating and marketing strategy that builds your brand while cooling the earth.

The exterior of your restaurant and the visible restaurant patio and sidewalk planters and café fixtures give your customer thier first impression. It is critical that with a quick glance your potential customers receive a marketing message consistent with your commitment to a quality experience in dining and ambiance.

sidewalk cafe fixture large rectangular wood planter
Large Rectangular Wood Sidewalk Cafe Planter

DeepStream designs and manufactures top quality custom planters, bins, waiters stations, and valet parking stands that are perfect to meet the needs of restaurants in delineating an exterior space to the same exacting standard as the interior of your establishment. Our Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures are engineered custom planters, are designed and constructed using the principles of Sustainable Design, backed by a Lifetime Structural Warranty along with a unique Core Replacement Program, will help you maintain our products for decades.

This is especially important for businesses in an urban environment where you cannot afford the time, money, disruption, mess, damage, and inconvenience required to replace carpenter-built wood planters again and again as they tear themselves apart in just a few years.

Custom Wood Garden Planters are available as both stand-alone planters and money-saving multi-section planters in natural 3/4″ thick tongue-and groove solid tropical wood and recycled plastic lumber, with and without DeepStream’s exclusive Zephyr aluminum bands between the planks. DeepStream’s proprietary aluminum leg extrusion allows the addition of trellises, glass windbreaks and other forms of screening.

sidewalk cafe fixture Large Rectangular Wood Planters with glass windbreaks
sidewalk cafe fixture Large Rectangular Wood Planters with glass windbreaks provide comfortable year-round seating at this busy commuter rail station Wine Bar-Bistro
Restaurant fixtures large rectangular wood restaurant patio planters with glass windbreak
Large Rectangular Wood restaurant patio planters with glass windbreak
Deepstream's Trademark Mariner wood planter leg
Deepstream’s Trademark Mariner wood planter leg
sidewalk cafe fixture Large Rectangular Wood Planters with glass windbreaks  Large Wood Planter glass windbreak
Large Wood Planter glass windbreak
Restaurant patio fixture planter with glass windbreak
Large Wood Planter glass windbreak
Tall Wood Garden Planters create a casual outdoor restaurant, under sunny bright blue tropical skies with overlapping white umbrellas.
A casual upscale restaurant on a tropical island uses tall movable Wood Garden Planters on wheels to create a wall showcasing the open kitchen while directing traffic to creating a calm outdoor dining space under overlapping white umbrellas.

DeepStream can supply any size of food safe plastic planter liner

When space is at a premium, DeepStream’s Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Café Planters tailor food safe plastic planters and planter liners to your needs. They are available as narrow as 12″ and 18″ wide with a separate plastic liner insert with state-of-the-art drainage inside an outer box façade to ensure maximum durability as the planting medium never touches the wood and the harshest sun does not bake the root ball which causes unsightly plantings.

plastic planter liner
Narrow Sidewalk Café planter liner
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.
DeepStream rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners with advanced drainage and easy to replant tapered design.
Large Square Wood Planter with Plastic Liner for Trees
Large Square Wood Planter with Plastic Liner for Trees

DeepStream’s custom wood planters are an investment in the appearance of your property, and also in sustainable design. The structural aluminum frame and separate planter liner allow them to last for decades. We sell our wood planters direct to customers, eliminating the distributor markup.  This allows us to use the best materials and American craftsmanship which, combined with our plastic liner-inside-a-planter-box design, means that our planters will last for generations, providing the lowest cost of ownership over time while lowering the impact on the earth’s resources. 

Every planter sold by DeepStream generates 50 trees planted in return by the non-profit Trees For the Future.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Long, lightweight, wood multi-section planters are ideal for roof decks
Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Large Rectangular Wood Planter
Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Sidewalk Cafe Planters

OPUS and Oahu Trash and Recycling Receptacles are companions to our custom Restaurant Planters and Sidewalk Café Planters. They can be made from various materials and mounted with Smoker’s Outpost as shown. Oahu bins have a side-opening door for easy access to the rugged 33-gallon plastic bin inside. The door can be mounted on either side and open to the front or back.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Outdoor Wood Trash Receptacle with Smoker’s Outpost

The push flap is solid 5086 Aluminum which can be quickly and easily refinished in place.  The plates swivel noiselessly on replaceable Teflon bushings. Hygienic copper push plates and no-touch openings are also available.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Large Wood Garden Planters, Trash and Recycling Bins for Restaurants

All DeepStream bins are made with 100% replaceable parts available through our unique Core Replacement Program.  As with all of DeepStream products, at the end of its useful life, all components are recyclable.

Custom Food Service Carts and Waiter Bussing Stations can help build a quality outdoor dining experience that share the same commitment to customer impressions and satisfaction that you have put into the interior of your restaurant and the quality of your food..

Custom Restaurant Fixtures exterior grade cabinetry with drawers and shelves on casters.
Custom Restaurant Fixtures exterior grade cabinetry with drawers and shelves on casters.
Custom Restaurant Fixtures, exterior grade cabinetry with drawers along with a combination trash and recycling receptacle set the tone for this high end restaurants outdoor dining space.
Custom Restaurant Fixtures, exterior grade cabinetry with drawers along with a combination trash and recycling receptacle set the tone for this high end restaurants outdoor dining space.

Robust construction techniques are used to create custom Valet Stands, from the simple to the complex.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Custom Valet Stand
Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Custom Valet Stand

We urge you to consider making a strong environmental statement, while reducing your maintenance costs, by specifying one of our 5 stock colors of 100% Recycled Plastic Lumber (RPL). RPL is recycled HDPE (high-density polyethylene) from milk jugs and other polyethylene packaging that would normally be destined for landfill. Using recycled plastic lumber can help save the rainforests and slow global warming.

RPL uses no energy or materials to maintain and never needs to be painted or stained.  It will not rot, splinter or split. Ultra-violet stabilizers are added to the lumber so colors will look as vibrant decades from now as they do today.  DeepStream’s test of custom planters are going on 10 years in the Miami sun and look like new.

Custom Restaurant Patio and Sidewalk Cafe Planters and Fixtures
Wood and Recycled Plastic Lumber Planters
Click to DeepStream's website to see more about maintenance free weatherproof recycled plastic lumber Mariner Restaurant Planters
Maintenance Free Recycled Food Safe Plastic Planters are perfect for restaurants as there is no paint or powder coating to fail so they may be pressure cleaned for sanitation and raised planter boxes give pests no place to hide. Lifetime Structural Warranty.

Landscape Architects Help You Avoid Expensive Mistakes!

DeepStream large commercial planters with screen wall and the fight soil mixture grow colorful flowers on this urban roof deck oasis

Using Landscape Architects will save you money as you choose the proper plants for your site specific micro-climate. As you consider the integration of watering, nutrition, PH, soil weight vs depth and drainage it creates a complex matrix of possibilities that can make your head spin.

Roof top planters create a jungle that cools a building saving the penthouse 20% on electricity
Roof top planters create a jungle that cools a building saving the penthouse 20% on electricity

Believe me when I say: make a conscious decision not to use a Landscape Architect for larger projects because you WANT to go through the learning process, or because you have already been through the school of hard knocks, not because you want to save money.

While I acknowledge that I’m the type of person who wants to know “everything” and research the “double hell” out of everything I do, there are many things I either don’t have time for or don’t have enough interest in to get down to the really fine details about.

Having said that, probably like you since you’re reading this, when I do the research I want to buy as direct as possible and with DeepStream you are buying factory direct.

Mother nature’s miracle is making overwhelmingly complex systems naturally simple and available.  However, an extensive container garden or green roof is a totally artificial environment vs a backyard.

You need to pick the right planting medium for your plants, planters, environment, and drainage conditions.
There are many starting options as you create the right planting medium for your plants, planters, environment, and drainage conditions.

You are trying to mimic nature and chances are that over the long run you won’t save money on larger projects without using the services of a  Landscape Architect.  I don’t want you kicking yourself later.

As in back-country powder skiing and mountain climbing, you don’t get all the information from a book.  It takes years of experience to understand local conditions and seasonal changes to stay alive. The same is true for your plants.

When property owners and customers of DeepStream Designs contact me about large planter projects directly we make a conscious effort to have you at least consider the services of a Landscape Architect.

Landscape Architects large recycled plastic planter for trees
large recycled plastic planter for trees

Believe me, if you have even a medium-size project, the slight mark up Landscape Architects may put on products in addition to their fee is money well invested if you, or your project, are the type that can’t live with expensive and time consuming false starts.

Click here for more information on Landscape Architects

Modular planters make custom easy

DeepStream Designs modular planters means that any aspect of the planter can be customized for any location.

Whether it’s material or size, almost any special need can be accommodated.  Installation in even the most difficult locations can be accomplished without cranes or lots of expensive labor.  Sections assemble in 10 minutes or less once placed in location.

Click Here to see why DeepStream builds it’s planters as it does.

Large Custom Prefabricated Garden Planter Assembly is quick and easy about 10-15 minutes per section using a #3 screwdriver
Large Custom Prefabricated Garden Planter Assembly is quick and easy, about 10-15 minutes per section, using a #3 screwdriver
DeepStream Designs modular 31" tall 4 section Ipe wood planter with plastic liners
DeepStream Design’s cost effective prefabricated modular 31″ tall 4 section Ipe wood planter with plastic liners backed with a Lifetime-Structural-Warranty
Click for more info on DeepStream's multi-section prefabricated modular wood garden planter with a wood screen wall.
eepStream’s multi-section prefabricated modular wood garden planter with a wood screen wall.

Modular planter design means that Standard waterproof outdoor speakers can be hidden under a standard planter liner in a planter with 31″ high legs at moderate cost.

Some installations call for more. Here are pictures of one such set of custom planters, part of a larger custom project, where the Designer needed special 12” subwoofers hidden in the planter.  Using a longer extrusion, for a higher leg, we were able to place the large subwoofer in a custom enclosure under the planter liner.

Custom wood aluminum planter houses a stereo speaker
Custom wood aluminum planter houses a stereo speaker
Garden planter stereo speaker showing supports for waterproof liner
Garden planter stereo speaker showing supports for waterproof liner
Planter stereo speaker enclosure with drain, speaker is under the liner
Planter stereo speaker enclosure with drain, speaker is under the liner

Looking down into planter liner with drain that lines up with port through the speaker, drain hose and top caps to be mounted on site are inside, foot caps temporarily caping legs during final assembly

We started with the specifications from the speaker company regarding the optimum volume and material for the speaker box required for the best sound quality.  Using a special waterproof weather resistant material that met the speaker company’s resonance specifications, we built a waterproof custom speaker box to fit inside the modular planter that would retain the exact optimum interior volume after we added the necessary waterproof pass-through ports for drain and drip irrigation lines.

custom outdoor speaker enclosure
Custom outdoor speaker enclosure

The height of the modular planter is the result of the critical footprint dimension specified by the Landscape Architect and Interior Designer.  Their design called for the planter to sit exactly on top of a specific paver size that would have a conduit for hidden power and speaker cables ported through a hole in its center.  With our custom capabilities we were able to give them the exact installation they needed for both the speaker and the liner, with the necessary drainage and root depth that the specified planting called for.

While we usually outsource custom planter liners, in this case we built liners in house. Using sophisticated composite technology from the yachting industry, we were able to ensure that there would be absolutely no give to the liners inside the modular planter and that they would be waterproof for a century, even if a careless landscaper used a shovel to dig out the plants at some point in the future.

Custom outdoor speaker enclosure liner
Custom outdoor speaker enclosure liner

speaker-planter-liners-under-construction