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Common-Space Makeover

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UPDATE: GHI now (as of 2019) has an approval process for members planting in common areas. Here it is.

Time to show off another garden make-over!  Unlike the earlier street-side make-over at the end of a back yard, this one’s in the common area adjacent to the parking lot for my GHI court – 5 Ridge Road.



Here’s a couple of “before” shots that show some lovely plants contributed by neighbors over the years – a rose, a Spirea, Siberian iris – and the orange marking paint showing where the new boundary would be between turfgrass and garden. Creating a designated border that doesn’t need to be mowed protects the plants from the fast-moving mowing crew and gives the space a neat, cared-for appearance.  It becomes a garden, not a weed patch with shrubs.




It took about a week to dig and dump three SUV-loads of weeds and turfgrass, then gather donated perennials and three loads of mulch, and here’s the “after” (because gardens are never finished) in May.

I wrote about the sod-removal process here on GardenRant.  Lawns are under attack these days and sod removal is a hot topic so I implored readers to save the worms hanging out in the top layer.



Above is how the garden looks now.  The Crapemyrtle and Hydrangea are blooming, as are the perennials Black-eyed Susan, Phlox, and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’  Before long, the groundcovers will have spread enough to prevent all but a few weeds and avoid the need to replenish the mulch.  These workhorse groundcovers are Sedum sarmentosum for sun (which is free because it grows like a weed around here) and variegated Liriope for the shadier side.



In an adjacent area, we’ve created a new bed of the existing Spirea and two of a fabulous native shrubs – Ninebark ‘Summer Wine’ – that will eventually screen views of the utility poles and generally be stunning. They grow to 5-6 feet tall and wide, produce pink blooms in the spring, and have purple foliage that stands out all season. A neighbor and I split the cost of them, but I’ve since learned that Ninebarks are available for free through county and state programs because they’re native.


Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com and direct Good Gardening Videos.org, a nonprofit, ad-free educational campaign.

2 Responses

  1. Bob Snyder
    | Reply

    I enjoyed reading the piece, ‘Common space makeover’. These garden/landscaping projects do enhance, beautify and improve these open commons areas for the reasons stated in the article. The challenge will be to have members continue to weed, water, change/rotate plants and maintain these small garden areas after the initial enthusiasm of planning and creating these small landscaped garden plots.

    • Susan
      | Reply

      Bob, you’re so right! The committee is working on that.

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