Bucktown Upcycle

Bringing beauty and sustainability to Bucktown, this multifunctional garden was designed to provide just the right amount of backyard space for gardening, entertaining and lounging. And, because the client loved the variety of plants and accessories in the yard, we wanted to be practical and reuse existing plantings and hardscape materials where possible.

The existing yard was long and narrow. The original patio was made of common brick and the walkway used clay Chicago street pavers. The yard had a good selection of perennials but the planting beds were poorly designed and used a concrete retaining wall block.

We began by visually separating the space into four sections. The first section was delineated by the 6 ‘x 8 ‘gabion wall we installed. The original concrete retaining wall block was placed in its center and surrounded with existing natural brick. The downspout drained into a weathered and worn rectangle tub, adding a layer of character to the yard. Once the gabion was completed, we re-installed the Chicago pavers as the new patio and walkway winding through the yard. We outlined this area with perennials from the original garden and combined them with Prairie grasses for contrast and tall bamboo for texture and color.

In the next area, we installed cedar posts of the same height. In addition to being durable and offering aesthetic appeal, the wooden structures provided a natural appearance that blended right into the garden, as well as, creating a level of surprise as one walks through the garden.

The dining area was delineated by using compacted bluestone. We re-purposed the wooden table and chairs for the dining area.

In the last section (the urban farming section), we delineated this space visually by using pea gravel and three custom built corten steel circle vegetable beds. And to increase food production in a small space we planted two sprawling espalier apple trees along the fence.