The Charmed Garden

From Planning to Planting, and from Harvest to Table.

Mid-Summer in the Garden

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It’s mid-July here in Oak Lawn, a south suburb of Chicago. It is muggy so the lettuce is wilting and the Kale is starting to get tough. But, the cucumbers and green beans and peppers are coming in strong. Finally!!!

For awhile there, the weeds were growing faster than my veggies. Our spring weather was rougher than usual followed by a pretty dry spell.  So my garden looked a mess! Not a comfy feeling for a garden designer.  So after a weeding and mulching intervention, and a good soaking rain, the garden looks and feels much better.

HERE IS THE BEFORE –  just a couple of weeks ago


IMG_1241IMG_1235IMG_1234This is our  garden behind the garage. We have three basic cedar raised beds, one raised bed that is made of left over bricks (fancy name is “reclaimed”), beans along the fence (and growing up an old bed frame), hot peppers in the bamboo circle and one teepee’d blackberry bush.  And my neighbor’s boat thrown in for an extra pop of color because  our driveways are that close.  The cucumbers will eventually take over the trellis creating a wall of green so you almost won’t see the boat.

The path is made up of extra flag stone and bricks, left over from other projects. We have stumps from old trees, pieces of an old trellis for the cucumbers, and of course the bed frame for the beans.   With a little imagination, you can re-purpose almost anything to give the garden your own unique style. Your veggie garden can have as much style as your flower beds.


Here are our tomatoes and basil growing alongside our garage. The gardens flow into each other through the curvilinear outline of the beds.

It’s not a very big back yard.  To make best use of the space, I designed the different gardens to flow into each other so we can have our veggies, flowers and a lawn. We also have a dwarf peach tree and 2 dwarf apple trees, one in each corner.


Mulching the garden beds different from the paths gives the veggie garden a little more style. Keeping the mulch in the rest of the beds the same color throughout connects all the different beds, shade and sun, veggies and flowers.

Everyone’s style is different, but the design principles are the same. Lines are one of the most important – curved, straight, horizontal and vertical. Lines connect the garden, direct your attention and your direction (think paths).

Some examples of line, curvilnear front yard gardens, with both straight and curvilnear paths through them.

Right now, the gardens don’t need as much attention, just a bit of weeding and watering.  This is a slower time in the garden, which gives you some time to think about what is your design style.

Author: Laurine M. Byrne

I received my certification as a Landscape Designer from Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and I received my horticulture education through classes at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois and through the master gardener program at Univ of Illinois Extension. In my designs, I love mixing veggies and herbs with native perennials and flowering bushes as you can see from the pictures of my own yard. I love creating gardens for people who like to garden, not just installing traditional landscaping, but actually creating gardens that the homeowner connects to personally. I love that my clients who thought they couldn't grow anything now have green thumbs, because all it takes is the right plant in the right site. And I really love that my clients become my friends in the process of creating their gardens.

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