Week One: Planning a Brooklyn Garden!

Three weeks ago, I shared some slightly embarrassing photos of my front ‘garden,’ which were actually taken about a month prior when the weeds were still manageable. Fast forward to mid-May and there were knee-high dandelions, huge tufts of milkweed, and mugwort everywhere. It gave new meaning to ‘maintenance-free gardening’ and definitely NOT in a good way! Here she is in mid-April:

In the three weeks since, Zach and I committed to getting it done since we both knew it was going to be a ton of work and we are AWESOME at procrastinating if given the chance. We hated what was left of the red mulch, the metal landscaping liners, and the bricks in disarray. So the first weekend we spent pulling weeds and thinking. Then over Memorial Day weekend, we did the majority of the intensive labor and dug up the whole area, sifting out glass, kitchen knives, liquor bottles, petrified chicken bones, and suspicious-looking glass tubes.

After digging the whole yard up, we had a pretty good idea of what to do with the space this year and I put together the colorful plan below. The front of the house faces south and gets direct sun all day, so we needed something that was heat-and-drought tolerant. We settled on a plan with three major zones — an herb garden, a butterfly garden with some native plants, and a healthy selection of sedums:

The herbs are concentrated along the stairs where we’ll have easy access to them, while the rear corner will be home to our tomato plants, and any other container veggies we’ll want to protect from the wind (and curious neighborhood cats). To the left are our salvia, yarrow, phlox and butterfly bushes which should hopefully flower throughout the summer. And finally, across the front of the garden are the low-growing sedum, which will provide some ground cover and lots of textural succulent goodness. We couldn’t bring ourselves to dig out the chyrsanthemums just yet, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stand them. They’re so ugly in the summer! Anyone want to come and dig yourself a pot of ’em?

And after lots of planning and hard work, here’s what it looks like now!

garden: week one

garden: week onegarden: week one

garden: week one

garden: week onegarden: week one

garden: week one

garden: week one

garden: week onegarden: week one

garden: week one

Now the hard part comes: PATIENCE. Grow, little plants!

13 thoughts on “Week One: Planning a Brooklyn Garden!”

  1. What a fantastic looking plan and a great start! This makes me wish we had just even this small amount of space. I’ve love to have my herbs outside, even though they are doing ok indoors.

  2. Thanks to you both! I guess I should’ve mentioned I have no clue what I’m doing, so this is all one big experiment. But from what I’ve read, that’s the best way to garden!

    Xris — yes, it’s deeper than it seems, but it’s still a very modest space. Something like 12′ x 11′ at its widest dimensions? My plan is not entirely to scale, but a rough approximation.

    Ed — Have you ever considered getting window boxes that sit outside your windows? I’ve seen a few of those recently and they look awesome. They give you a bit more real estate without fear of bumping them off your sill. We did a lot of fire escape gardening at our old apartment and loved it, but you can achieve a similar effect with window boxes! And fresh herbs are the best. I’d have a sad summer without them. :)

    1. Yep, we tried window boxes at our last place, they didn’t last very long in the June thunderstorms of 2006 so we gave up after all our hard work was to naught – all the plants were too badly damaged or died a few days later. We don’t have window-ledges outside that would facilitate window boxes at our current place. There’s no outdoor fire escapes either because we are in a concrete high-rise that has fireproofed stairwells and elevator shafts on the inside.

  3. The best way to learn to garden is do just what your are doing. I’ve grown up in the world of farming and ranching and there is never a clear cut theory, you plant and you hope for the best. I look forward to checking in and seeing how things grow for you Annie

  4. Annie and Julie — thanks so much and welcome! I do plan on staying on top of the weeds, and I look at the whole project as something of experiment, which is exciting.

    Ed — GAH! Sorry to hear that; it must’ve been frustrating. While it’s not outdoor space, per se, in our last apartment we also had plain pine shelves cut to fit the width of the windows and mounted shelves in the windows with IKEA brackets. That made kind of an indoor window garden, if you will. Just trying to brainstorm more ideas for you!

  5. It looks great, Jill! Really! The product for keeping weeds at bay is PREEN. it is a bit expensive but it is really doing the job this year in our front flower bed once we eradicated all of the weeds which have been trying to take over for 3 years. I look forward to seeing your garden grow!

  6. Mom — thanks for the recommendation about the weed chemical, but I’m going to try and see how everything goes before I start spraying for anything. You know I’m weird about chemicals. :) Glad you like the plan!

    Marie — thanks so much! I am excited to see it fill out too; I’m planning on taking weekly photographs so I can actually see the change over time. As for software, I used Adobe Illustrator and a heavy hand with the rectangle and circle tools. Haha. I feel like a kindergartener when I even attempt any sort of ‘graphic design.’

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