Name: Laurie C.
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Size: 77 square feet
Your Favorite Thing About Your Outdoor Space: We love how the little terrace has come together so "locally" without spending a lot of money. It is funky, colorful, and definitely "us." With the exception of the chaise lounge (which came with the house), the round table/chairs (Paul's), and a few of the pots, everything else was found on the street and re-purposed. Our seeds are either dried and saved from our own food (yes! this works!) or purchased from regional, responsible seed houses; we get seedlings from the local farmers' market, and flowers from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's annual member plant sale...
...Above all, we love how our terrace is our peaceful oasis from our busy urban lives. In NYC, everyone lives in cramped apartments, so we are very fortunate to have this outdoor extension of our living/dining room- and we certainly take advantage of it with our daily coffee ritual, afternoon cocktails, and weekend brunches with friends!
Biggest Design Challenge With This Space: Typical of many New Yorkers, fitting as much as we can into small spaces is a daily challenge! We wanted our tiny terrace to be lush with greenery but still have the opportunity to entertain more than just two people out there.
To provide an illusion of a larger space, the plants are arranged in a variety of containers at different heights: long planter boxes with colorful trailing flowers hang off the railing while the heavier larger pots march around two sides of the long, narrow terrace, with smaller potted plants filling in the voids at the bases. Companion planting is a space-saver in pots and beneficial to the plants. On the third side, we designed and built a few custom planters: half of the long, low planter (highlighting a massive reclaimed wood shelf I had from my previous apartment) rests on the parapet so it sits right against the railing, allowing us to take advantage of those few wasted inches.
A birdhouse and a colorful hanging basket hang from the fire escape above, making use of the non-usable space. We store all of our gardening tools, gloves, candles, and tiny grill beneath the chaise lounge.
Since we're exposed on three sides, we have trained fast-growing wisteria and morning glory vines to grow along the railings to provide a verdant privacy and wind screen, with an added bonus of colorful flowers.
Having the lush, block-long courtyard beyond as a "backyard" also helps!
Tips for Creating a Great Small Outdoor Space: Be creative - don't spend a lot of money: Finding items on the street, at garage sales, or within your own home and repurposing them takes a keen eye, patience and creativity, but we are happy with how it's a work-in-progress. If it doesn't work with your aesthetic, just bring it back to the street!
Grow what you love! We use our mint, rosemary, oregano, shiso, sage, cilantro, and basil in almost every meal we cook. In addition to colorful flowers and herbs, we are also growing a healthy combination of fruits and vegetables because we are supportive of the organic, urban agriculture movement. Growing edible plants has really humbled us!
Share/attract beneficial insects! Our terrace is on the fourth floor, so we're practically in the treetops with birds, squirrels, bees, butterflies, and many other insects. There are two rooftop beehives at my office a few blocks away, and we've certainly noticed an increase in the number of bees buzzing around!
Thanks, Laurie, and good luck!
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