Before: The balcony looks nice but unspectacular. See the after photo below.

Patio homes, apartments and loft spaces often include small balconies or terraces. Perhaps they’re used for storage, or maybe the balcony includes a table and chairs. In any case, these small spaces can quickly become monotonous.

But they don’t need to become monotonous. Instead, you can turn your outdoor living area into your own tropical paradise, and extend your home to the outdoors!

Break your long narrow space into two spaces by using pots, with or without trellises. Even a pot encroaching into a normal pathway will serve as a divider, of sorts. Then you can decorate each “room” with furnishings and plantings that provide you with the atmosphere you are looking to create. Perhaps you can create a dining area with a living room … or a hideaway and public space. Even consider an outdoor office with a kitchenette (featuring a barbecue).

Choose plants with height and “staying” power for the corners and, if used, dividers. Lower pots are perfect for the front edges of your space, perhaps filled with color that reflects your cushions and decor. Don’t forget to use fragrant plants that can envelope you with lush smells that make you want to stay!

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