Urban Eden

Allen and Catherine Johnson live in urban Arlington, Virginia. Their duplex home was built in the post WWII boom right into the side of the steepest hill in Arlington. Being on a hill, they have more stairs than anything; 25 to the front door, 15 from there up to the back door and patio, 9 more to the highest terrace. As part of an urban neighborhood, the entire property is barely larger than the US median square footage of new homes – 2,600 sq feet.

Urban Arlington, Virginia

Last summer they started a garden on their only flat piece of land, a 7.5’x13’ patch of soil next to their patio.

The Hillside Challenge

This year they converted that flat plot to a play area for their toddler so they had to be creative to grow a garden.They installed raised beds across the front of the house.

Interplanting vegetables and flowers in raised beds

Shelves built into the retaining wall to support flower and herb boxes
On the highest portion of the hill they put in terraces. They use trellises for vertical gardening.

Blackberries in the front yard

Front door surrounded by garden

Fortunately, their property has a southern exposure so they get plenty of sun. They grow a variety of crops including lettuce, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, eggplant, peppers, sunflower, squash, raspberries, black berries, and many varieties of flowers and herbs. It is a veritable urban Eden.

Their suc
cess with this small property inspires others to find ways to turn backyards into gardens. If they can do it, anyone can do it. You don’t need a large backyard to have several nice meals a week from your garden all summer long.

A steep hillside with poor soil, yet the garden is thriving

The reward!

2 Comments on “Urban Eden

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