The Pot Spot


| August/September 2004

A Tight Spot

I used to have almost an acre to tend, with room to grow anything I wanted. Then a mid-life crisis hit and I moved to a condo in Las Vegas. But I wasn’t ready to give up gardening! Now I have to approach this passion a little differently. In addition to all the other pitfalls of gardening in the desert, I’m space-challenged and so are my herbs. Over time I’ve learned a bit about this challenge, so if you’re in cozy quarters, perhaps you’ll find a useful tip here.

First, look around and assess what obvious space you have available with adequate sun exposure (or in the case of Las Vegas, land of perpetual sunshine, the available spots that provide some afternoon shade). Once you’ve filled all those obvious places with potted herbs — the steps leading up to a front door, the small patio with its limited floor space — that’s when you get creative.


The layered look is the best way to pack more plants into the smallest floor space. This can be achieved in a number of ways — including tiered plant stands, hanging herbs from the ceiling of a porch to utilize the space above your growing area, and even within the pots themselves, underplanting upright herbs with creepers and sprawlers. The interplay of colors and textures of plants with different habits growing together cozily is delightful, and the container garden becomes more than the sum of its parts.

One of my favorite ways to achieve this effect is to stack containers in decreasing sizes so they form a pyramid shape. On the bottom of the stack is the largest container you have room for; a half whiskey barrel works splendidly if you have the space, not only because it provides good drainage but also because this hefty base allows you to stack up five or more layers of gradually smaller pots until it becomes a towering structure.

To do this, situate your largest container in the location where it will remain, preferably in a spot where you don’t have to be concerned about the runoff. On a concrete patio like mine, the whiskey barrel sits directly on the concrete.

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