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Brooklyn on a Budget: 10 Favorite Gardens from the Gardenista Archives


Brooklyn on a Budget: 10 Favorite Gardens from the Gardenista Archives

January 17, 2017

You don’t need to spend a fortune to have a beautiful garden in the city. From Crown Heights to Carroll Gardens—and neighborhoods in between—here are 10 of our all-time favorite Brooklyn-on-a-budget gardens, each with a personality all its own:

Classic Townhouse Layouts


Above: Photograph by Douglas Lyle Thompson for Gardenista.

In Crown Heights, gardener Jen Catto transformed “a prison yard” into an inviting, shade-dappled space with a gravel courtyard and the help of “garden tutor” Valerie Strait.

For more of Jen’s garden, see My Brooklyn Story: Creating a Brownstone from Scratch in Crown Heights.


Above: Photograph by Niya Bascom Photography.

In Crown Heights, designers Anishka Clarke and Niya Bascom transformed a sad, small rectangle of land that no one loved very much into a 484-square-foot outdoor living space, salvaging an existing poured-concrete path (which ran in a U-shape around the perimeter) as a frame for a new patio.

For more of this garden, see Before & After: A Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.


Above: Photograph by Nicole Franzen for Gardenista.

After remodeling the interior of her Brooklyn house, in early 2012 gardener Sophie Gee, an English professor at Princeton, turned her attention to the “total wreck” of a yard. After clearing weeds and laying a bluestone patio with reclaimed pavers, she and husband Lev Grossman, a novelist, carried bags of compost and peat moss through the house because it was the only way to get them to the garden.

For more, see The Magicians: An English Professor and a Novelist Conjure a Garden in Brooklyn.


Above: Photograph courtesy of Foras Studio.

After an interior remodel ate up most of a couple’s budget, landscape designer Susan Welti of Foras Studio created the low-maintenance scheme a few years ago for a Brooklyn couple whose townhouse had a typical rectangular backyard (20 feet wide by 36 feet deep).

See more in Steal This Look: Modern Brooklyn Backyard on a Budget.


Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

When the landlord announced that the lease on her Harlem apartment would not be renewed, Gardenista contributor and 66 Square Feet blogger Marie Viljoen transported her garden in pots (via U-Haul truck) to Brooklyn, where her new backyard was two-thirds poured concrete slab, one-third weed-covered earth. Over the next 12 months she transformed the 1,000-square-foot space into a lush garden where she grows year-round edibles (as well as cut flowers).

For more, see Rehab Diary: A Year in the Life of a Brooklyn Garden.

Curb Appeal


Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

In Carroll Gardens, gardener Cinthia Birkhead (trained in horticulture and garden design, courtesy of both the New York Botanical and Brooklyn botanic gardens) transformed “patchy grass” in front of her house into a verdant perennial-packed space, with plants that thrive in full sun in her south-facing garden.

For more of her garden, see Curb Appeal: 11 Ideas to Steal from Brooklyn.


Above: Photography by Betsy Pinover Schiff, courtesy The Monacelli Press.

In Fort Greene, “the front yard of a brownstone  has been transformed into an English cottage-style garden bursting with roses, allium, iris, foxglove, and coreopsis,” writes Jeanne.

For more, see Required Reading: Sidewalk Gardens of New York.


Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

In 2002 sidewalk gardener Kirstin Tobiasson planted a Brooklyn garden of colorful perennials on a bare stretch of Union Street’s sidewalk, beside the Gowanus Canal. For more, see Goodbye, Gowanus: After 15 Years, a Brooklyn Gardener is Ready to Pull Up Roots.


Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

Gardener In Polina Siterman’s front garden in Carrol Gardens, she grows red currants, “a gift from her 92-year-old father (a gardener in Oceanside, Long Island),” Marie reports, as well as gooseberries from a neighborhood nursery. Her son helps her dig and divide her collection of hostas and from time to time she puts “an excess of asters on the sidewalk for adoption.”

For more of her garden, see Curb Appeal: 11 Ideas to Steal from Brooklyn.


Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

“Behind a tall wrought iron fence in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the Summit Street Community Garden’s unscripted prettiness belies its roots as an abandoned lot, filled with rubble, derelict refrigerators, and rusting car parts,” writes Marie.

See more in Garden Visit: Summit Street in Red Hook.

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