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Just as the long-held love of the turf lawn is changing, so is the definition of a garden. Urban dwellers routinely request a garden design for pollinator-loving and edible plants using pots and raised beds due to the constraints of small spaces and a desire for versatility and impermanence. We call these spaces “pocket” gardens— planting zones that aid local foodways and support pollinators. Did you know? 60% of Yardzen small yard owners have a “pocket” garden!

Here’s how to achieve the look, feel, and function of a pocket garden in your landscape design.

An easy to maintain small edible garden in Yardzen backyard design

An easy to maintain small edible garden in Yardzen backyard design

Custom built-in planters are great in certain situations, but by-and-large we advise passing on them. Built-in planters are essentially walls, and being so they introduce barriers into designs that constrict circulation and make spaces feel smaller. They also cost a bundle. Opting for individual plant containers allows you to achieve the same planted feel while leaving spaces broad and unimpeded.

With thousands of prefab plant containers on the market, it’s easy to find one with the price, size, and style you need. While there are gorgeous premium containers out there, there are also plenty of attractive options available at affordable prices. The variety and attainability of prefab containers rewards us with design freedom – you can experiment to your heart’s content with different looks, sizes, and placement without breaking the bank.

Edible pocket garden in a side yard landscape design

Edible pocket garden in a side yard landscape design

Another perk of larger containers: you can fit multiple species in them. Allowing groundcover species like Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ to cascade over the lip lends a sense of permanence to plant containers, and can visually link them to planting areas elsewhere in the yard.

Both pots and plants must meet the scale of their setting. Large spaces and tall walls demand larger containers and taller plants, while smaller spaces require containers with smaller visual and physical footprints.

Container plants are an ally in the effort to keep yards open and free-flowing. Placing them at the corners of a space defines a distinct zone while skipping space-constraining barriers. You can also use containers to punctuate key thresholds, like path entrances, or to lend intentionality to awkward nooks, like recessed corners in a home’s facade. A steady rhythm of large plant containers can subdivide and humanize large hardscaped areas or spaces with pavers.

You can even imply outdoor rooms by positioning small trees like redbuds, olives, serviceberries, or desert willows along the edge of outdoor seating areas. Place those trees along the south or west edges, and you add pleasant dappled shade into the bargain.

A small brightly colored prefab raised herb garden in a San Francisco, California backyard design

A small brightly colored prefab raised herb garden in a San Francisco, California backyard design


Yardzen’s award-winning online exterior and landscape design service is tailored to homeowners with both large and small yards in all fifty states in the U.S. Our design process begins with understanding your outdoor space, style, and a discussion of your budget and vision to minimize surprises when it comes time to build. 

Our top-notch designers then develop a personalized vision for your yard, shared through 3D renderings, 2D plan drawings, and plant and material lists. Your design will capture the look, feel, and function you are hoping for, all while keeping costs within range

Once your design is complete, we’ll help you connect with a local contractor from our Pro Network of vetted professional contractors to install your new design (if you don’t plan on a diy build).

Ready to bring the pocket garden of your dreams to life? Create your design profile or explore our professional exterior, side yard, front yard, and back yard landscaping design packages today!

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