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Fracturing Fiber Pots

Or, you get what you pay for!

Don't let this happen to you!

When we first moved here, I immediately entered into design mode to create our dream garden. For the front garden, it meant creating a new entry space and remove a dying lawn and antiquated irrigation system. Given the perennial droughts we are in, I opted to replace the lawn with a petanque court running parallel to the existing front walk that would remain. But I needed separation between the court and the walkway to reinforce a sense of separate functions. This is where pottery comes in; five pots lining the walkway provided additional benefits, such as semi-built in night lighting along the walkway and seasonal color and texture where the garden is particularly plain.

Given all the other expenses of renovation, the pots had to be affordable. With Italian terra cotta becoming pricier over the years (the first pots I chose cost hundreds of dollars each...handmade cost thousands), we opted for a long-term temporary solution that would not break the budget. We found modern looking fiber pots at our local big box, and bang, we had our completed design.

Petanque anyone?

Now some six years have passed, and we noticed some of the plants were struggling despite adequate water. At closer inspection, we found the pots were rotting out, showing signs of collapse and even holes. It turns out that fiber least this manufacturer's version...cannot handle prolonged moisture. In general, fiber pots are made of a concrete slurry, similar to plaster of paris, and fiberglass webbing. The combination makes them lightweight, movable, and capable of sitting on, say, a roof garden without adding considerable weight. Its intolerance to moisture, however, means an inevitable deterioration, like leaving a plaster of paris figurine out in the rain. As we dismantled the fiber pots, we found large chunks flaking off the fiberglass, as shown in the leading photo.

While they lasted for some years, I have been carrying around terra cotta pots for decades. It was time for a permanent solution…more on that when we complete our renovation of the renovation. If there are better quality fiber pots out there, I want to know, but my assumption is that they will be heavier and more costly.

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