The Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn might be one of the last places you'd imagine someone creating a nature preserve in their backyard, but that's exactly what Gennaro Brooks-Church has done. The backyard of his brownstone is filled with indigenous plantings, and features a koi pond, a natural swimming pool, and a two-story treehouse, all DIYed with salvaged or found materials.
Brooks-Church builds things as the fancy strikes him, and has intentionally given his backyard wonderland an unkempt, picturesque quality. The access to the treehouse is intentionally a bit awkward, to make getting there more of an adventure, and a few rocks have been left in the yard's paths, to make traversing them feel more like a woodland ramble.
The swimming pool — think of it, a swimming pool in New York! — is definitely not your ordinary pool. It's a self-sustaining 'green pool', completely chemical free. A pump at the bottom of the pool keeps the water circulating through a shallow recess of pebbles, which helps eliminate unwanted growth. The pool, which looks more like a pond, is home to a few newts and a garter snake. This might put off finickier children, but Brooks-Church's kids, and others from the neighborhood, are happy to jump right in.
The goodness doesn't stop at the backyard, either — in the front yard there's a pond that's home to a family of turtles, which sometimes draws crowds of curious onlookers. And on the roof deck there's a circulating, self-sustaining brook, which is home to some fish and another turtle, which a neighbor discovered while excavating their backyard.
The whole home is a fascinating sanctuary, full of interesting things to see and do. It's a beautiful reminder that humans and nature can happy co-exist side by side, even in one of the world's largest cities.
You can see more photos of this home (including the interiors, which are equally delightful) on Curbed.