DeepStream Designs’ mantra: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” is evident in recycled plastic lumber planters andrecycling 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.
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.
– 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.
– 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 Effective – Working 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 Plantersand 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.
“Ipe” Brown RPL planters
“Ipe” Brown RPL 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 Designs knows from projects with Landscape Architects across the country how important using the appropriate planting mix is when growing perennials, trees, and bushes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Planters that generate contribution to Trees for the Future to grow more trees and build food independence around the world at a grass roots level
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
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?
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
Repotting large plants:
With the Clusia the the steps are almost identical.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 operator‘s changing needs. At summer’s end, they are simply rolled away to storage to reopen the famous ice skating rink during the winter season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 on the the pictures or the link below to see more information on commercial GFRC grade Concrete Planters and place orders. DeepStream Designs.
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.
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 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.
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.