Do you tend to spread yourself too thin? Maybe your patio hardscapes are suffering from the same problem.

We often make large outdoor party areas at our desert homes to enjoy during the non-scorching months. If we want to soften the look with plants, we are restricted to using pots. We know containers need to be large to fill the area, but many of us tend to jam all pots against long walls, rather than filling underused areas with a collection of pots.

If you look at the before picture below, you will notice the area to the right of the stairs. This platform could only fit one chair—and that chair will usually be in the full sun. So unless you are a recluse and want to toast by yourself, this area will serve a better purpose as a lush garden featuring of three 24-inch pots, as you can see above.

In that winter garden pictured above, there is a collection of pansies, violas and other hardy bloomers that will perform throughout winter in our desert climate. Regular deadheading and a biweekly water-soluble fertilizer is all that will be needed besides water to keep these bloomers happy until May!

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. She is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at Follow the Potted Desert at