Good Questions: Turning an Airshaft into Usable Space?

Good Questions: Turning an Airshaft into Usable Space?

Janel Laban
Jun 1, 2009
Alison sent in a great question that is perfect for the first day of our month-long focus on outside living. She writes: I recently moved into a first-floor apartment that has a bit of space between our building and the one next door--it's like an airshaft, but it's open on one end so you can walk to the center of it. The building next door is an office, and the windows that face out into the area are either bricked over or have filmed glass. Right now, the area is filled with trash and is creepy and depressing. Aside from cleaning it up, I'd like to make it into a small garden space that would be a nice, shady spot in the summer...
(Note: Include a pic of your problem and your question gets posted first. Email questions and pics with QUESTIONS in subject line to: chicago(at)apartmenttherapy(dot)com)

The space is about 6 ft square and, aside from the sun it gets from straight up (both buildings are about three stories tall), there's not a lot of natural light. Do you have any suggestion of things I could plant or use to make the space more inviting? Anything budget-friendly is always great. As you can see from the pictures, I've put an old table and chairs out there to get myself started.Right now, the ground is covered in pea-gravel, but I'm envisioning some slate and moss to give it a more "secret garden" vibe. How do-able is this?

P.S. I plan on making sure our association and the building next door are fine with this, but I wanted to come up with some ideas to discuss first.

Please share your suggestions and ideas with Alison in the comments below...thanks!

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