My Great Outdoors: Maki Podell's Urban Oasis

My Great Outdoors: Maki Podell's Urban Oasis

Aaron Able
Jun 12, 2009

Name: Maki Podell
Location: Upper West Side, NYC
Type of space: Backyard Deck & Garden
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: This is my oasis in the middle of Manhattan. We have diner parties for 12, brunches for two and the occasional cocktail party in the rain when we had to tarp the entire space. We are out here for coffee in the morning and wine in the evening. In addition to my plants and the traditional Adirondack Chairs, we have two ponds (with fish) connected with a waterfall, a hammock that holds six and twin Weber grills for cooking and smoking. At night, I light upwards of 50 candles and lanterns adding a sense of magic to the garden.

How did you create it? When we first moved in, it was a mud pit with a bathtub sunken in the middle of the space (the previous tenants used the bathtub to keep a penguin). With a northern exposure , only two to three house of filtered sunlight each morning, poor drainage and clay soil, I have to passionately work the garden through trial and error. Along the way, I have battled tent caterpillars, mealy bugs, slugs and even a stray raccoon who stole a suet feeder right off my maple tree. As an urban gardener, my annual plant purchases are a combination of what I want and what I know will grow. The deck has evolved from its first construction out of scrap pallet lumber to its current multi-level incarnation made from pressure treated 5/4 planks. Two triangular sections were built with 16" lengths requiring every bit of urban ingenuity just to get them through the Upper West Side brownstone's anything-but-straight corridors.

Recommended store, site, product or resource? Sources include Metro Plant Exchange (NJ), Rosedale Nursery (Westchester), Home Depot, Lowes, a garden center on 96th & Broadway and occasional purchases at our local Sunday Flea Market. Several attempts at ordering plants online have proven unsuccessful.

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