The weather is starting to get warmer, and you know what that means: It’s time to tend to your yard. But this year things outdoors will look a little different. According to virtual landscape design and build company Yardzen, homeowners and renters are abandoning “everything under the sun” plots in favor of more specific seeds. More than half of its customers, 60 percent to be exact, are opting for pocket gardens, which, as the name suggests, are smaller areas dedicated to a a few plant varieties, rather than a mix of everything. In other words, you don’t have to have a sprawling backyard to get in on the trend: A fire escape or window box will do, too. Plus it’s a chance to grow only the vegetables and herbs you’ll actually use in the kitchen, leading to less maintenance and less waste. 

Starting a pocket garden can be intimidating if you’re only used to succulents or indoor hanging plants. Read on for a few of our favorite tips and tricks to ensure a plentiful basket come harvest time. 

Photography by Leslie Santarina.
Courtesy of Lily Kwong.

Start Small

Dominique Drakeford’s top gardening suggestion is to start with low-risk, high-reward veggies and work your way up. The cofounder of Sustainable Brooklyn and founder of Melanin and Sustainable Style says, “String beans are great, especially if you have kids—they look amazing and are huge when they sprout.” Bell peppers are another solid option. While they are a little slow to get started, they’re easy to care for. “And herbs like basil are so early [to sprout]—they just need some water and heat,” she adds.

Kit It Out

If you’re not sure where to begin, take a note from landscape artist Lily Kwong and buy a starter set. She explains, “I got kits for the beds because I wanted to put them together quickly—there are a lot of great ones online.” In half an hour, she assembled the 4-by-4-foot structures, which appear to be sourced from Greenes Fence.

Maximize Your Space

For city dwellers with tiny balconies or fire escapes, it’s important to be mindful of how much square footage you have (you don’t want to plant corn and end up in a maze come fall). San Francisco photographer Leslie Santarina chose 24 lightweight, fiberglass containers from Etsy in order to not weigh down her terrace. “You want to be able to move your plants around easily as the direction of the sun changes each season,” she says. Peppering in some milkweed, daisies, and lavender brings on the bees, helping her tomatoes and peppers thrive.

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