My Garden: Growing Locally and Sustainably in Chicago

A reader replaces a lawn with an edible front yard and plants her backyard with fragrant herbs that she and her husband use to make their own tea.
January 31, 2011
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Cathleen and Eric Jensen live on Chicago's Northwest side, in Logan Square. The Jensens have worked to create a useful and pretty garden, cultivating their small backyard (20' x 35') and their front yard (15' x 25') with native and local plants, and growing herbs, instead of grass, on the front lawn.

The couple—Cathleen is an occupational therapist and Eric is a securities investor—designed and implemented their garden themselves. With thoughtful planning, they spend relatively little time maintaining it: "We put in 5 to 15 hours a week. Aside from the initial planting, we pretty much just putter a little each night in the summer. We have soaker hoses that we use when we need to, but for the last couple summers, the garden required very little watering. As you can see, we just have a tiny amount of grass, so it only takes about 10 minutes with a push mower to cut it once a week."