Lincoln Park, Chicago
When this family decided to create a small city garden, they called the same team that had created landscapes for their father, uncle and grandfather. They’d acquired the lot next to their home—a standard, 25-foot-wide Chicago property—and wanted to create a space that appealed to adults and young children.
Van Zelst’s first step was to extend the home’s brick columns and fence around both lots, creating one cohesive space. Limited access and parking on a busy city street only made us better at logistics.
After that, we let our creativity run wild. After all, a small space doesn’t have to mean small thinking. In a compact space, however, functionality and flow are paramount. Details stand out. And the whole garden must work together at a glance.
In this garden, long-blooming perennials have maximum impact, while shady areas come to life with well-suited plants and hardscape. Containers and a fountain help make the most of vertical space. And seating does double-duty as much-needed storage.
For the kids, we incorporated a tricycle track and ensured that a safe fountain was installed. They find it inviting and fun, but as the family outgrows their three-wheelers, the garden will remain sophisticated and continue to grow with them.