How to garden anywhere

On a driveway, atop a doghouse, up a wall — here's how to garden in small and unusual spaces

Driveway garden design

Thomas J. Story

Garden in a driveway

Short on space? Here's where to garden in unexpected places

Landscape architect Jeni Webber replaced this Palo Alto home's solid driveway with two strips of concrete, leaving space for a tiny garden in the middle.

Learn more about this driveway makeover

A reborn parking strip

Photo and design: Lauren Springer

In the parking strip

The parking strip — that patch of ground between the sidewalk and the street — is often a neglected no-man's-land.

However, the right plants can turn an eyesore into a treasured extension of your garden.

Learn how to reclaim a parking strip

World's smallest park

Larry Geddis

In a posthole

This mini park in downtown Portland (planted in a spot meant for a lamppost) proves that there is no space too small for a garden.

Learn more about the smallest park in the world

Vertical garden tower

Thomas J. Story

On a vertical garden tower

No room to garden?

A vertical garden tower will give you plenty of space for edibles, and takes up very little room.

Learn how to plant a vertical garden tower yourself

Salad bar tapestry

Saxon Holt

Between pavers

Randi Herman wanted to plant something unique between the pavers in her Berkeley backyard; instead of using predictable groundcovers she went for a mix of lettuces and beets.

Learn more about how to plant edibles between pavers

California rooftop garden

Photo by Thomas J. Story

On a city roof

Plants that grow on city rooftops need to be able to stand up to constant sunlight and harsh winds.

For this project, landscape designer Lauren Schneider mixed California natives that thrive in hot, dry conditions with plants that evolved in similar climates.

Learn more about this hardy rooftop garden

Small-space salad box

E. Spencer Toy

On the patio

Having fresh greens at your fingertips is one of the best parts of the growing season. And with a raised planter on the back patio, you can have a continual supply of salad greens nearly year-round.

You can make one using a ready-made redwood window box from the nursery.

Get step-by-step instructions

modern cottage

Sheila Schmitz

Atop a doghouse

Even Fido deserves a living roof.

You can buy this stylish doghouse from prefab firm Modern Cabana. The roof is ready to plant.

See more of the Modern Cottage

living tabletop

Andrea M. Gómez

On a table

Pasadena landscape architect Heather Lenkin came up with a simple way to make a tabletop garden. Follow her easy how-to for a living centerpiece of your own.

How to make a tabletop garden


Thomas J. Story

In the air

Looking for the ultimate low-maintenance houseplant?

Tillandsias, also known as air plants, are native to tropical parts of the Americas, where they live without soil on trees and rocks.

How to care for your air plant


Garden in a tray

Thomas J. Story

In a tray

Irish moss and Scotch moss combine with lady's slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) to form the illusion of a garden.

A copper tray catches drips from terra-cotta pots with soft earth-tone glazes.

Copper tray: 14 inches square; $26 from Smith & Hawken (800/981-9888). Terra-cotta pots: $16 - $50 from Bluestone Main (707/765-2024).

Succulent frames

Photo by Thomas J. Story

In a frame

Instead of framing a picture, why not a whole garden? Here, cuttings of assorted succulents knit together to create colorful, textural living tapestries.

Learn how to make your own framed succulent garden

Shed-roof model

Saxon Holt

On a birdfeeder

This easy-to-assemble birdeeder is the perfect place to plant a miniature green roof. Groundcovers like moss, ivy, thyme, and small sedums, will flourish in the shallow depth of the feeders' roof.

Learn how to build a flowering birdfeeder

Apple pillars

Norman A. Plate

In a tiny spot

If you don't have a lot of square footage for your garden, experiment with plants that don't take up a lot of space.

Colonnade apple trees grow upright and extremely narrow.

Learn more about this skinny apple tree

Small veggie garden

Ebbe Roe Yovino-Smith

In 4 square feet

You can grow a lot in 4 square feet.

This little patch of soil has been planted with tomatoes, basil, chives, and cucumbers.

Learn how to grow veggies in 2-4 square feet

After: plant stand

Thomas J. Story

In a chair

This plant stand was once a chair.

The project is easy to complete: Simply remove the seat, find a pot that fits, and paint the frame a bright, fun color.

Get more information on how to make your own plant stand


Modern hanging baskets

Thomas J. Story

In a Woolly Pocket

Try a modern take on traditional hanging baskets with a wall of these Woolly Pockets. Since they're lined with moisture barriers, you don't have to worry about any leaking.

Learn how to design a modern hanging plant display

Stylish kitchen garden

Steven A. Gunther

In a front-yard bench

When landscape archtitect Pamela Palmer designed these stylish planter boxes, she wanted them to be attractive and functional. Each one has enough room for plenty of fruits and veggies as well as covered storage space at the ends that doubles as seating.

Learn more about these planter benches

Wall Panels Complete

Up a wall

A trellis can make even the plainest space look beautiful. Build a number of these trellis panels and attach them to the side of your home for the most elegent effect.

Get step-by-step instructions to build this trellis

Rectangular container

Thomas J. Story

On a walkway

Threadleaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum 'Seiryu') towers over red-leafed 'Little John' azalea, variegated ivy and abelia in a 2- by 4-foot rectangular black zinc container.

Because it's long and thin, it fits perfectly on a walkway.

Gardens in glass

Thomas J. Story

In glass

Plant a tiny cactus or bromeliad in a glass vase and you have an instant sculpture. The only additional materials you need are some polished stones and a small container.

Learn how to garden in a glass

Home-grown herb container garden

Thomas J. Story

In stacked pots

This two-tiered container garden holds a selection of basic herbs. Trailers and fillers ― chives, rosemary, and thyme ― tumble over the edges of the bottom pot (about 24 inches wide).

Dwarf purple and sweet basils grow in the top pot (about 16 inches wide) with thyme filling in around the edges. To keep potted herbs healthy fertilize and water them regularly.


Rob D. Brodman

Up an arbor

Here's an inventive way to grow squashes and melons in a small space.

Growing these vining edibles on an arbor instead of along the ground saves a lot of space.

See how the melons grow next.


Saxon Holt

Up an arbor: Melons

Because of their weight, the melons are supported by nylon strips.

Learn more about growing squash and melon on arbors

Beach garden in a pot

Rob D. Brodman

In a mini beach

If you yearn for the beach but live miles inland, you can re-create the look easily in a pot.

You'll need a low, wide pot, potting soil, 3 small, slow-growing plants, sand, and a few small beachy items (like driftwood).

Get our step-by-step instructions

Outdoor seating area

Thomas J. Story

Behind a bench

Homeowner and artist Michael Shemchuck created this look on a small patio by growing a young espaliered fig against a dark exterior wall.

The bench is really a metal-framed daybed.

Get more ideas from this amazing cottage makeover


Bob Wigand

On rocky ground

Jeff Moore, owner of Solana Succulents nursery, created this scene at the Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, California.

To get an underwater feel, he stacked lava rocks and planted succulents that mimic marine plants and creatures.

Learn more about Moore's seascape garden

Hanging terrarium

Photography by Jeffery Cross

In an ornament

This tiny terrarium would make a great gift. The 5-inch globe contains its own little garden, which your special someone can marvel over (while thinking of you) every day.

Plants are included. $25;

Mini bogs

Thomas J. Story

On a coffee table

While not your typical houseplants, a trio of potted miniature water plants look unbelievably lush displayed on a coffee table.

Learn how to recreate this mini bog

Moss roof garden

Roy Hellwig

On the roof

Architect Roy Hellwig wanted a simple way to grow a green roof. Instead of trying a weighty–and costly–planted garden, he got the look with lightweight moss, which requires no added infrastructure or maintenance.

Learn how to start an easy green roof

Step by step project: Planter umbrella stand

Photo by Thomas J. Story

In an umbrella stand

Strong wind is no friend to most patio umbrellas, but it would take a hurricane to budge this setup.

The umbrella rises from a sleeve centered in a flowerpot that's filled with three layers of material: a bottom layer of lava rock to hold the sleeve in place, a center layer of concrete for extra rigidity, and a top layer of planting mix. When there's no need for shade, just lift out the umbrella -- the plants should mask the sleeve.

See how to make this umbrella stand planter

salavaged garden frame

Photo by Thomas J. Story

In salvaged shutters

Twin shutters, each about 8 feet tall, bring a roomlike appeal to designer Baylor Chapman’s San Francisco deck. Tiny succulent rosettes peek out from openings between the slats.

To hold the rootballs in place, Chapman ( stapled weed-cloth pockets behind each shutter.

Garden in barrels

In a parking lot

Like a lot of good chefs, Mark Williams grows his own herbs for his kitchen.

He liked having a fresh herb supply on hand so much he asked the company for permission to take over an unused parking lot to install a full-fledged garden. 

Everything is in old bourbon barrels.

Read more about this garden in barrels

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