Habitat in a pot

Tips to create a backyard habitat garden.

Habitat in a pot

The following information is available as an information sheet (PDF, 749KB).

Changing environments

You don’t have to have a large backyard to create a habitat garden. Even if you only have a small backyard, courtyard, patio or balcony you can still plant a mix of native plants to attract local wildlife.

There are now numerous native shrubs, grasses, herbs and climbers that will happily grow in pots, along walls and fences or in compact spaces. In addition there is also a growing range of hybrid and cultivar varieties of larger native plants now available in dwarf and compact forms.

How to create a habitat in a pot or small space

If you have a courtyard or small backyard with limited garden area try using a combination of direct planting into the ground and plants in various sized pots.

Some larger plant species including trees such as ficus spp (figs), syzygiums (lilly pillies), grevilleas, callistemons and palms can be grown in pots to reduce and manage their size.

If you only have a balcony, use a combination of lightweight pots and containers for creative planting.

Advantages to growing in pots

  • Reduced water usage (only water individual plant)
  • Instant effect and landscape
  • Can plant advanced plants for instant results
  • Choice of pot colours, designs and sizes to complement individual plant texture or flower colour or planting patterns
  • Ability to move plants around to achieve different effects or to respond to heat, cold, shading, screening
  • Can maintain and manage specific needs and soil types for difficult or fussy plants
  • Increased opportunities to grow vines or climbing plants vertically up walls and fences
  • Create a ready-made garden on hardstand (concrete/paved) areas
  • No hard digging required.


The accumulated weight of pot plants, soil, water and rocks can be quite heavy and potentially overload some balconies or raised decks. Always check the structural specifications and weight loading of your balcony before you begin. You may need to modify your design to reduce the total weight before you begin.

When planting vines and climbers against or adjacent to balcony railings or safety fences ensure that your plant choice and the growing habitat of that species is not too vigorous and will not produce strong thick or dense stems that could potentially allow children to climb over the railing or fence using the vine. Additionally, ensure that the vine will not become too heavy for the railing and potentially weaken or pull it down.