written by:
January 7, 2011

In this exclusive series for Dwell.com, Linda Taalman of Taalman Koch Architecture tracks the hands-on, tight-budgeted renovation of her and her partner's live-work rental in Los Angeles. Week 5 project: Starting the garden.

 

One of the critical spaces in the Courtyard Apartments is the courtyard. Our living spaces essentially double in size when we open the sliding doors. When we first moved in, the courtyards were intact but they needed a horticultural makeover; each space had an hodge-podge of bachelor plants, with conflicting watering needs. We immediately saw potential for developing an urban native plants garden and a small kitchen garden. We are doing it slowly as a project with Oleana on the weekends. So far we’ve made a dent in our edibles and planted a couple of aromatic sages. Over the next couple months we will be planting, designing seating, and creating an outdoor play space for kids. Stay tuned!

 

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When we first moved in, we found the back courtyard filled with a strange and sad houseplants.
When we first moved in, we found the back courtyard filled with a strange and sad houseplants.
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Another 'before' photo.
Another 'before' photo.
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Upon removing the plants in front courtyard we discovered the wood wall needed to be rebuilt. Thanks Cliff!
Upon removing the plants in front courtyard we discovered the wood wall needed to be rebuilt. Thanks Cliff!
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Our inspiration was 'From Seed to Skillet,' by Jimmy Williams, who is a fixture at the local Hollywood Farmers Market where we get our edibles.
Our inspiration was 'From Seed to Skillet,' by Jimmy Williams, who is a fixture at the local Hollywood Farmers Market where we get our edibles.
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Our winter choices included beets, cauliflower and fennel.
Our winter choices included beets, cauliflower and fennel.
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We planted the winter edibles at an afternoon gathering with friends and kids. When the weather allows it, we keep the doors wide open and kids can help with gardening projects outside.
We planted the winter edibles at an afternoon gathering with friends and kids. When the weather allows it, we keep the doors wide open and kids can help with gardening projects outside.
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Here's a picture of last fall's late tomato plants, now replaced by snowpeas.
Here's a picture of last fall's late tomato plants, now replaced by snowpeas.
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Worms! Kids love 'em.
Worms! Kids love 'em.
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For the urban garden without enough dirt, you can buy a Wooly Pocket 'Meadow.' Because mint can be an invasive menace to other plants, we are planting a mint meadow.
For the urban garden without enough dirt, you can buy a Wooly Pocket 'Meadow.' Because mint can be an invasive menace to other plants, we are planting a mint meadow.
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The lemon tree we found under a bougainvillea bush finally grows as it gets the sun it always wanted. Every house needs a lemon tree. The snow peas are just popping up.
The lemon tree we found under a bougainvillea bush finally grows as it gets the sun it always wanted. Every house needs a lemon tree. The snow peas are just popping up.
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My collection of potted plants from all our previous apartment spaces that had no dirt.
My collection of potted plants from all our previous apartment spaces that had no dirt.
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Our succulent cuttings are happy after the recent rains.
Our succulent cuttings are happy after the recent rains.
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Here's a future project space at the entry court: the old bbq. We have dreams of replacing it with a pizza oven, outdoor dining and bike racks.
Here's a future project space at the entry court: the old bbq. We have dreams of replacing it with a pizza oven, outdoor dining and bike racks.
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The front garden needs some work. We're thinking about hummingbird and butterfly-attracting plants.
The front garden needs some work. We're thinking about hummingbird and butterfly-attracting plants.
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This tree—species unidentified—must have been planted by an early resident. It looms large in the back courtyard, creating a very different feeling outdoor space.
This tree—species unidentified—must have been planted by an early resident. It looms large in the back courtyard, creating a very different feeling outdoor space.
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This is the view of the tree canopy from upstairs. It gives us privacy from the neighboring apartment buildings and houses, as well as constant entertainment from the local squirrels, possum and raccoons.
This is the view of the tree canopy from upstairs. It gives us privacy from the neighboring apartment buildings and houses, as well as constant entertainment from the local squirrels, possum and raccoons.
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The backyard is currently more of an urban zoo, given over to kids and skunks. We're planning to install an outdoor lounge and play space…
The backyard is currently more of an urban zoo, given over to kids and skunks. We're planning to install an outdoor lounge and play space…
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On a typical workday, this is the view from our conference/dining table. To be continued…<br /><br /><br /><br /><p>Click <a href="http://www.dwell.com/people/linda-taalman.html?tab=articles&c=y">here</a> to read past installments of the series. </p>
On a typical workday, this is the view from our conference/dining table. To be continued…

Click here to read past installments of the series.

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When we first moved in, we found the back courtyard filled with a strange and sad houseplants.
When we first moved in, we found the back courtyard filled with a strange and sad houseplants.

To see images of the project, please visit the slideshow. Click here to read past installments of the series.

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