Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patio gardens and whatever's next

It happened again; we fell in love with another apartment. This one blows that other apartment out of the water on the livability scale. This apartment felt urban, but homey; streamlined, but warm; expansive, but intimate. It was the first highrise apartment I've seen where I knew without a doubt I could buy without looking back, without any angst about not having a yard or our own stoop. If we were actually in the market to buy, instead of being complete fakers on these tours, this place would be a major contender. (It would also be nice if we could even remotely afford it, but that's another reality-based discussion that's not worth having at the moment.)

The patio in this apartment was 700 square feet, an extension of the entire length of the apartment, opening up to the Dallas skyline. Think about that size for a minute: a 700 square foot patio. Ridiculous! Ridiculous views, ridiculous amount of space... ridiculous built-in outdoor fireplace! Sigh... That patio left me daydreaming the rest of the weekend. In the model unit we looked at, the patio was so large it was actually arranged as three separate outdoor "rooms": a cozy nook coming off the master bedroom, a large seating/dining area extending off the living room, and a cooking area extending off the guest bedroom. Here's the patio from another unit in the building, albeit a terribly decorated one:

Boring and uninspiring image of the patio that would become fabulous under my watch

When I saw the patio, though, I had one thought: garden.

See, gardening is something I can't do at all in our current arrangement. We're on the corner of the building on the eleventh floor and the wind whips everything to shreds - even simple plants like herbs. Our patio is great for lounging, but not for growing things. If we were going to be here forever, I'd try building a structure to help protect plants from the wind and too much sun. But it's probably not worth it at this stage in the game, so instead I just grit my teeth every time I buy fresh basil, mint, dill, and cilantro - which is pretty much every trip to the market. Nothing irks me about my lack of a garden like having to purchase fresh herbs when I could grow them instead.

Our current patio. Great space for reading/sipping, but not-so-great space for plants (trust me)

But oh, the possibilities with more and better configured space! I enjoy seeing urban translations on outdoor living, since that may very well be the typology we'll be calling home when we actually are in the market to buy something. And since I already know that I do well in cozy bungalows with real in-the-ground gardening space and a walkable neighborhood, it's reassuring for me to find other scenarios that could feel at home, too - a spectacular building, sure, but one that feels more grown-up than the last apartment we toured, one that's a little less bachelor and a little more family (we saw kids and dogs - always a good sign). Reasserting my versatility in these matters makes me feel like I'm ready for whatever may come. That's important to me, since we're not really sure what's next.

In honor of this weekend's to-die-for patio, I was inspired to seek out images of patio gardens. I'm not including any backyard or rooftop gardens here, which can obviously be stunning and enormous; I'm talking simple, urban, DIY container gardens that could work on any non-wind-tunnel patio.

Even the tiniest spaces can accommodate container gardens, depending on your conditions. Source.

Herbs galore! Source.

There's a lot going on here, but not a lot of food. However, the concept of stacking plants to line a wall is perfect for any small outdoor space. Source.

Container gardening isn't just for herbs. These would be great on a patio (my containers would be obnoxiously colorful, of course). Source and how-to.

Pots, pots, pots. Source.

Replace these decorative plants with herbs and vegetables - gorgeous! Source.

Please excuse me while I go graze on greens for dinner. Source.

Lounging in the greenery. Source.

I saved the best for last. Does it get any cooler than a vertical herb garden for an urban space? I think not!!! Source.

Bonus Link: Tips on starting a patio garden from Epicurious


  1. oh no. you may have inspired me. although, i tried (like, i REALLY tried - read instructions and everything) to grow herbs 4 mo ago and they didn't grow :( I need help.

  2. ahhhh heaven...would love to have a place for a garden that I could inevitably destroy with my pathetic lack of a green-thumb

  3. have you tried growing the herbs inside? I've had great success growing basil and mint indoors (on inner window ledges).

  4. Hi anat! We have a couple of issues inside, mostly involving our two cats. They are curious in every sense of the word.

  5. I was going to post a comment on how I wish I had your green thumb and could have a patio garden without the midwest heat killing my plants (sigh), but then you provided the Epicurious link. Thank you for reading my mind!

  6. Ohhh heaven on earth! The vertical garden looks awesome! Inspiring garden photos.

  7. Thank you for sharing this article, this is nice one…. I like it a lot and Hope others might like it as well.


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