Decide whether your containers will house a temporary or permanent planting. Annuals and perennials are short-term seasonal plantings. They usually require a little more work but reward you with variety and lots of color. If you mix several types of plants in one container, make sure they share the same growing requirements, such as light and water.
Measure the width and depth of your container if you plan to use a small tree or shrub. Make sure the plant you purchase will fit into the container and still have a little room to grow. Don't stuff an oversize plant into a small planter. It won't have enough space and will be hard to keep watered.
When selecting flower colors, there are a few rules to keep in mind. Use dark-colored blooms in front of a light-colored house and light-colored blooms in front of a dark house. Don't place too many colors in one pot. If you have more than one pot, repeat the same color in each one for continuity.
"Choosing and Using Containers" is from Southern Living 2004 Garden Guide.