A review of the pros and cons of the two main methods to create a contained planted space.
A Planted Perimeter is a wall of metal, creating a complete boundary around a space, which is then backfilled with soil and planted. A Planted Perimeter has no base; and in almost all cases, the wall needs to be fastened down to a concrete foundation for stability.
A Planter is a complete structure including sides and a base; which is filled with a suitable container planter medium, and planted. If a Planter is very large, then it might come in sections to be assembled on-site; but in most cases, a Planter arrives fully-assembled and ‘ready to plant’.
NOTE: Of the two concepts, the Planter is the most commonly understood [plus there are literally hundreds of pictures of Planters on our website]. Therefore the image gallery here features mostly Planted Perimeters, and Planters are only shown where there could have been a legitimate decision as to which option was better in the particular situation.
A. Situations where the choice is easy
There are some situations where one of these two options is quite clearly the right answer. These situations include:
A Planted Perimeter is the right answer where:
- The planting scheme is not only very long, but also very wide [indicatively > 2000mm]
- Trees are to be planted into the underlying sub-soil
- There are site constraints which mean that large Planters cannot be handled or stored
- A perimeter is required to surround an existing tree, already planted
A Planter is the right answer where:
- The planting scheme is of any length, but the width is relatively narrow [indicatively < 2000mm]
- Plant or tree roots must be contained. Examples of this include:
- Planting with aggressive and/or invasive species, like bamboo
- Planting above utilities and/or services, which is very common in public realm
- Planting which may need to be lifted and/or relocated
- The planting is to be installed onto an existing finished floor level, like paving or decking
- Drainage needs to be channelled to a particular location
B. Situations where the choice is not so straightforward
There are, however, further situations where there is a legitimate choice between the two options. In new-build, where the planting is extensive but relatively narrow; and where none of the other constraints above apply, then either a Planted Perimeter or a Planter could work equally well.
In these situations, the final decision as to which option is best tends to come down to a consideration of cost and logistics, as each option has pros and cons – which may be summarised:
- Lower capital cost, but higher installation cost
- Delivered in long, thin sections, which are easy to handle and store on-site
- Typically has to be installed at an interim stage of the total works, and thus causes greater on-site disruption
- Can cause contractual interface issues between supply of the Planter Perimeters and their installation
- Almost always requires securing to a concrete foundation for stability, with additional cost
- Higher capital cost, but lower installation cost
- Delivered either complete, or in large sections, which may cause handling/storing challenges on-site
- Typically is installed right at the end of the total works, and thus causes minimal on-site disruption
- Typically the contractual interface between supply and installation is clear and uncontentious
- Almost always can go straight down onto the FFL, or pre-existing structures like pedestals, with no additional cost
In situations where either a Planted Perimeter or a Planter could work equally well, then careful, site-specific consideration of these issues will inform the decision. Where it comes down to a ‘toss of the coin’, then the Planter option is to be preferred – as it is typically the easiest and simplest option for all parties involved.