Today’s photos come from Kate McMillan’s 50-foot by 100-foot city lot in Portland, Oregon.
Gardening on a small city lot is definitely challenging when it comes to privacy and how to fit all that you want into a limited space. Here’s my strategy:
I planted for privacy and structure first. Before I got into the (often more interesting and beautiful) details, I established the privacy screens we wanted with trees and large shrubs. To get the variety I wanted, rather than a continuous hedge of one plant, I used various, primarily evergreen, columnar plants along the fence line, which act as a wonderful backdrop for the plantings in front.
I made sure to include various gathering areas. Even though my back garden is small, it has spaces for dining with friends and lounging in the shade. Dividing up the small space has made it feel bigger and more functional for our needs.
I use ground cover and color to unite all my plantings, even though I split the garden into distinct areas. Doing this also lets me grow lots of different plants without everything feeling too jumbled, because there’s a continuous through-line of things like glaucous and purple foliage. I don’t want to be limited to a smaller palette of plants (despite having a smaller garden), because I love plants too much!
I garden in the front for my community. Despite adding privacy in the back and along the sides of the house, I kept things low and inviting in the front garden, and I regularly connect with the neighbors while I’m out there gardening. I feel like this contribution to the neighborhood, and a better relationship with my neighbors, makes my city garden (and my home) more enjoyable for me, too.
This Sedum ‘Touchdown Teak’ (Zones 4–10) is just beginning to open its flowers.
Purple apple-berry (Billardiera longiflora, Zones 8–9) with purple fruits shares a trellis with Clematis fasciculiflora (Zones 7–9), which flowers in winter.
Palmer’s sedum (Sedum palmeri, Zones 8–10) with ‘Tiny Rubies’ dianthus (Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Tiny Rubies’, Zones 3–9) and ‘Cape Blanco’ stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, Zones 5–9).
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