Magazine article Sunset

Your Diy Dream Retreat

Magazine article Sunset

Your Diy Dream Retreat

Article excerpt

How to create paradise in your backyard if you are a...


CONOR FITZPATRICK, who grew up eating fresh from the garden in his native Ireland, didn't let city life dissuade him from turning his Los Angeies backyard into his own private farmers' market (shown here and on the preceding pages). "There's no better fruits and vegetables than from your own garden/' Conor says. He's passionate about getting people to grow organic food, so he created MinifarmBox (, a line of easy-to-assemble raised-bed kits.

Lessons from Conor

DO THE HAN WORK UP FRONT Reshaping a sloped part of his backyard into two flat terraces was backbreakingbut worth it for the easier access to his produce.

PLANT CLOSE TO THE KITCHEN You'll take better care of your edibles and waste less produce. When Conor sees something ripening, he automatically starts planning a meal around it.

SAY NO TO HAND WATERTNG "It requires more work/' he says. "If you have one hot spell and you lose a crop, it breaks your heart." Set up an auto irrigation system.

PLAN FOR HOW YOU'LI PICK Conor tucked his perennial edibles, such as rosemary and artichokes, in with ornamentals. And he planted annual herbs in the corners of the beds where they are easy to harvest.

CHOOSE HEIRLOOM Conor believes opting for heirloom over hybrid promotes biodiversity. And the flavors are better. He often buys seeds for their names, like the 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato.

MULCH ALL BARE GROUND It helps retain the soil's moisture and minimizes weeds.

CREATE HARVEST STATIONS Conor keeps large buckets of water near edible beds to pick and rinse produce on a moment's notice.



Conor's fresh-frorn-the-vine tomatoes become salsa, gazpacho, bruschettà, and sandwich fixings. He marinates eggplant in olive oil and garlic, then fries it with onions. He makes a drink using his mint, plus fresh lime, sugar, and vodka, that's served over ice and consumed by the gallon at parties.

BUILD RAIDES BEDS Growing in raised beds provides better drainage and aeration than in the ground and makes harvesting easier, Conor says. In his garden, one 4- by 4-foor raisd bed produces 80 pounds of tomatoes.


That's roughty the produce bill from summer through fall for Conor and his partner, Elizabeth Goodman. He does occasionally purchase specialty items like raspberries and avocados y"ou can"t grow it all he says.

500 ft.2

The amount of Living, cooking, and dining space that Baylor's dressed-up deck adds to her 800-square-foot loft.

CHOOSE FURNITURE THAT'S SMALLSPACE-FRIENDLY With space at a premiums a truck-bed storage box holds soil, fertilizer, and tools and doubles as a bench. When not used for seating, some chairs are plant stands.

city dweller

BAYLOR CHAPMAN loves living and working in San Francisco's Mission District. But at the end of the day, the floral designer and owner of Lila B. Design (liladesign. com) wants a retreat from the surrounding busy-ness, so she transformed her deck into a plant-filled outdoor room. "My garden softens some of the urbanness of my neighborhood - it's a little natural oasis off the street."

Lessons Baylor

USE A SOOTHING PALETTE Baylor filled her rooftop with lots of lush, textured plants in silvers, purples, and blues. "I wanted it to feel serene - these are quiet colors for me."

PLANT ON WHEELS All of Baylor's plants grow in containers for mobility, and she put casters on the largest ones. …

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