Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Suburban Backyard Garden

When we decided to move to the Chicago area from New York, we chose a suburb with great schools for our two little kids. We chose this house for its walkable, downtown location but also for its south facing back yard. After years of container gardening, I was looking forward to growing food in a large, ground-based location.

The yard had "great bones" when we purchased it - a large maple shade tree centered on the back door and medium sized bushes planted by the previous owner. We added the fence to create a safe place for the kids to play. We removed about one-third of the backyard grass in favor of a french style square foot garden, a cedar playhouse, and garden beds to surround the minimized turf. The garden itself is approximately 150sf of annual beds, 200 sf of perennial herbs, 50 sf of berry bushes, and ample space for decorative flowers and trees and bushes for privacy.

Sustainable Education:
Turf grass is ubiquitous in a suburban area, but it really only grows well in its native Scotland, where the weather is cool and water abundant. Since most climates do not match this ideal, grass requires artificial inputs of water, fertilizer, and control of volunteer plants (weeds) which are better suited to the climate. While grass should be minimized, it is also a useful recreation space.

Like all gardens, this back yard is a work in progress...

Concept Plan

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