Pots, fountains, furniture and screens (below) are all elements that you can use to make your own outdoor oasis.

Many of us became desert-dwellers because of the year-round sunny days and beautiful views. However, one of the first things I ask many desert-dwellers is how they use their outdoor spaces (patio, courtyard or pool). Way too often, the answer is, “Actually, we don’t use it!”

We’re too busy. It’s too hot. It’s too messy.

Well, the summer and the oppressive heat are starting to wane—so now is the time to create an outdoor space you love, and then get in the habit of using it!

If you’re not using your outdoor space, you may want to rethink your current arrangement. If your budget doesn’t allow for a major renovation to create your special oasis, a potted garden can provide you with an affordable solution that is beautiful and inviting year-round.

Pots with trellis and vine features can be used to “build” walls. You can also use trellises to form barriers from things you do not want to see (including the neighbors!).

For added interest, consider using a colorful mix of flowers and perennials to create a hummingbird garden, or select a beautiful hand-crafted container and a specimen plant to create “living art.”

As I mentioned above, transforming your patio does not have to be expensive. First, explore things you already have. Look for seating, pieces of art and accessories that will work outdoors. If you do not have containers or trellises in the right size, invest in a few that will help you build the space you want. Arrange the different pieces in a way that feels good to you—and you have the makings of your own outdoor getaway!

I suggested to one of my clients, who has some beautiful potted plants outdoors, that they give themselves an “at home” holiday. Even though these clients are retired, they are so caught up in “doing” that they often forget the very reason they moved to the desert: the lovely weather. I suggested that they take a weekend to relax: Turn off the phones; spend time in the pool; curl up with a good book—the very things they might do at a resort. With a little imagination, creativity and a couple of comfortable chairs, you can create a wonderful, cozy seating area, without investing in bricks and mortar, to enjoy on your “staycation.”

Studies have proven that living with plants and flowers is good for our health, and can soothe our souls. Share your special space with a friend or loved one, and it can be the catalyst for great conversation and relaxation. I promise you: It’s worth a small investment of time and money to create an area that calls to you. With the proper care and nourishment, that area will always be there for you.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions atpotteddesert@gmail.com. Follow the Potted Desert at facebook.com/potteddesert.