Baby boomers like me want immediate gratification in everything we do—including our gardens.

As gardeners, it goes without saying that we enjoy communing with nature. Even if you don’t personally create the landscape, there is a reason you want a garden in your life, right?

And if you don’t have a garden yet at your desert home … think about it. What could be easier than simply adding a few pots? The beauty of container gardening is that you can add one pot at a time—making for easy instant gratification. Place one by a chair … and relax for a while. I’ll bet that as you enjoy your accomplishment, you will quickly start thinking about what to add next.

Even a small outdoor area can be converted into a serene spot. Look at the picture above: Using existing pots and an existing St. Francis statue, this condominium owner turned a narrow yard into a sanctuary. Mature trees provide filtered sun throughout the day, allowing for successful gardening even in the summer heat. Volunteer flowers have popped up around the pots, grabbing for the water provided by the pot-irrigation run-off. This creates a woodland retreat; all that is needed is a comfy chair.

In the two pictures below, you are invited to leave the sun-drenched backyard of this desert home and enter a shaded side yard at another home. Neighboring Arizona ash and oleanders provide free shade for this southside patio. A walkway about 8 feet in width—an under-used thoroughfare leading from the home’s carport to the back yard—becomes a tremendous space. The addition of various seating options, a lamp and a fountain unite to create a respite from the heat—an invitation to morning coffee or afternoon wine, as well as a place to sit outside during the day to write or read.

Container gardening is simple, easy and rife for (almost) immediate gratification. Enjoy!

April Care in Your Desert Potted Garden

  • Plant summer flowers as late as possible this month. Remember, newly planted pots need daily water!
  • Establish a regular fertilizing schedule for your roses, with both organic and water-soluble fertilizers.
  • Check your irrigation this month! Review past water bills to track your usage—look for any obvious changes. Check your system for leaks.
  • Do not assume! We need an inch of rain in a day to be safe in turning off the irrigation for any length of time—and even then, pots will need water again in one to two days. In the unlikely event this ever happens, don’t forget to turn irrigation back on!
  • Adjust irrigation timers. As temperatures increase, so do the water needs of your garden. To give plants just the right amount, start by increasing the number of days per week it operates, but not the number of minutes per cycle. If your pots are not getting thoroughly wet throughout the soil volume, increase the length by one minute at a time.

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