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Common-Space Makeover

posted in: Home and Garden

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, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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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