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Sustainable Solutions: A Modern Garden for a Historic Townhouse in Brooklyn

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Sustainable Solutions: A Modern Garden for a Historic Townhouse in Brooklyn

June 19, 2020

When Lauren Snyder and Keith Burns renovated their historic brownstone in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, they made a commitment to sustainability. More than half their budget, Lauren says, went to things like solar panels, upgraded insulation, energy-efficient features, and an integrated rainwater collection system that feeds into the garden. Keith, an architect, built a steel deck and cedar fence surround for the backyard.

The couple designed the landscape—gravel, bluestone, raised beds—together. “We use the outdoor space daily,” Lauren says. “Tending to the plants back there has become quite the obsession for us.” Here’s a look at the details.

Photography by Jonathan Hökklo, courtesy of Lauren Snyder and Keith Burns.

The backyard features a Terracotta Clay Chiminea from Lowe’s, Storm Grey Fermob Sixties Armchairs, industrial outdoor string lights, and a Joraform Compost Tumbler. The copper outdoor shower is a Seletti Aquart Garden Shower that Lauren bought at GRDN in Brooklyn (a neighbor to her store, The Primary Essentials).
Above: The backyard features a Terracotta Clay Chiminea from Lowe’s, Storm Grey Fermob Sixties Armchairs, industrial outdoor string lights, and a Joraform Compost Tumbler. The copper outdoor shower is a Seletti Aquart Garden Shower that Lauren bought at GRDN in Brooklyn (a neighbor to her store, The Primary Essentials).
The rainwater reclamation system from Conservation Technology is on the roof. It holds 150 gallons and filters debris with a vortex filter before sending rainwater to the hose in the backyard. And when it’s full, excess water goes straight to the city’s storm water system.

Permeable paving of bluestone pavers and gravel is pale against the western red cedar fence.
Above: Permeable paving of bluestone pavers and gravel is pale against the western red cedar fence.
The outdoor table and bench is the Weathered Grey Portside Expandable Dining Table Set from West Elm.
Above: The outdoor table and bench is the Weathered Grey Portside Expandable Dining Table Set from West Elm.
“We’ve always had a strong interest in plants, but never had an actual garden before this house,” says Lauren, pictured here with Keith and their dog.
Above: “We’ve always had a strong interest in plants, but never had an actual garden before this house,” says Lauren, pictured here with Keith and their dog.

Plans

 The architectural plan shows a view of the deck and garden. Lauren and Keith rent the garden unit to a tenant. They built the deck in a way that does not limit the amount of sunlight into the unit and created a fence to give the tenant privacy in the unit&#8\2\17;s \10 feet of outdoor space.
Above: The architectural plan shows a view of the deck and garden. Lauren and Keith rent the garden unit to a tenant. They built the deck in a way that does not limit the amount of sunlight into the unit and created a fence to give the tenant privacy in the unit’s 10 feet of outdoor space.

N.B.: See more of our favorite city gardens:

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