Working on creating some curb appeal in my rental.


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Hello!

I have been living in a rental in the city of Chicago for a year now. This was a two-flat home that has been split into three units. We rent a unit in the front of the building, so we get the large window overlooking the tiny little yard. Our landlord doesn't do any maintenance with the lawn, the poor little tree that's half dead, or the area where flowers once bloomed. Since we plan on living here for another couple of years, I have decided to take it upon myself to work on the yard. I have spent half the day working on this area today. Half of the tree is dead, so I sawed off the dead branches. Now we have one, long branch sticking off the side, which I tied a rope around and then tied it around a metal pole to try to get it to start growing vertically. I pulled out all of the weeds in the yard. I cut the grass with scissors. (It is crazy of me to do this, I know.. but this is too small of an area to invest in a lawn mower.) I don't know much about gardening. I do have some plants that I've managed to keep alive, so I'd like to give this a try. I will post pics of my little area tomorrow, after this crazy storm we're having passes.

Basically, I am looking for advice on how to grow a tidy garden of flowers alongside the building, while putting as little money into it as possible (I am renting, afterall.) We don't get much sun on this street. It's also the mid-west. The grass is patchy; cutting it was like giving a bald man a haircut.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Again, I will post pics later on.
 
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Think annuals. This is a rental so don't give the landlord squat. Visit flea markets and look for containers, clay pots anything that will hold potting soil and has holes in the bottom for drainage. If they don't have holes make them yourself. You can grow all kinds of things in containers, from flowers, to herbs, to vegetables and everything inbetween. Immagination................use it As far as the grass goes just spread about a quarter of an inch of compost and a little organicfertilizer and you will be set.. Don't forget that you can cut the bottom out of plastic containers and bury them if you want. Chicago gets super cold so don't spend money trying to grow something that will cost you more money only to make the next tennant happy and the landlord richer
 
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I think Chuck is on to something. You could do a lot with container gardening and then take it all with you when you go. Whether you go with containers or not, you could even make it all edible so you get added benefit for your efforts.
 
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Thanks for the advice, Chuck. I have a couple of large container our old neighbors left behind which I am claiming as of now! I took some pics of this area so you guys can get a better idea of what I have to work with.

Re-cap of my work so far:
-pulled out all weeds and trimmed the little grass I have
-sawed dead part of tree off and tied it to a pole to get it to start growing vertically

I get some sun (as seen in the photos) in the later afternoon (3pm/4pm).

Again, any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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Which direction is which? Looks like the fence is mostly shade so that will be a limiting factor on that, but the rest looks very interesting. It all depends on how much sun you get as to what you can sucessfully grow. Talk to your local nursurey person as to what grows in those conditions. I see a future jungle. I wouldn't worry about grass. I would heavily mulch the whole thing and have all kinds of plants and containers with only a little walkway between them, maybe with a stepping stone or two to walk on
 
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The building is facing south, sorry I didn't specify that before. There is sun on the fence now, at 5:30pm. I wish I could see your vision! For me, it's difficult to see beyond what I have now. What do you think of the tree I worked on? Am I doing the right thing by tying a rope around it? Also, should I keep the other shrub (not sure what it is) by the stairs? I will visit a local nursery as you've advised. I also think it would be a good idea for me to walk around and see what my neighbors have done for inspiration.
 
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I don't know what those trees are, but, would you rather have a tree or bush or whatever it is instead of a riot of color. Chicago gets really cold and I don't know if those trees are evergreen or not, but the bigger they get the less sun you will have for anything else. Chicago is full of the demolition of all kinds of buildings. There will be, if not already, a dearth of used bricks, cement blocks and all kinds of things to make a kind of vertical garden that you can place all kinds of things on. With that little place I can see a veritable jungle of shade and partial shade loving plants. Flowering and non flowering plants. You will be surprised at all there is to choose from. You could probably even grow edibles like Rainbow Chard and Kale and Spinach and even some root crops like radishes and maybe carrots in the sunnier parts. Immagination is what makes things fun in gardening. There aren't any laws about growing things. The main thing is to HAVE FUN.
 
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Some excellent advice from @Chuck here (y)

Are you allowed to plant things in the bed in front of those two windows? If yes, do they need to be fairly small?
 
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Chuck, you are broadening my imagination! The tree is quite beautiful when it's in bloom, and I cannot get rid of it. Becky, I am planning on planting something (anything!) in that area. I just pulled all the weeds out of it. Now need to begin research with soil.. Should I be saving all of my coffee grounds?!
 
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Chuck, you are broadening my imagination! The tree is quite beautiful when it's in bloom, and I cannot get rid of it. Becky, I am planning on planting something (anything!) in that area. I just pulled all the weeds out of it. Now need to begin research with soil.. Should I be saving all of my coffee grounds?!
Yes, save all your grounds and beg more from your neighbors. Go to the Organic forum on this site and you will find out about soil fertility and other things you need to know to be really successful in your new garden
 

Pat

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Here is a picture that can give you some hints on your garden. It has been a year I would like to see what you did with the space last some and if you are still trying to make it work for you.

 
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Welcome Alice. :) I think it's to late for the branch on the tree to come upright. If you were to remove it then there's a possibility the tree may re-shoot further down but it will take years to recover. The other shrub which is probably a member of the conifer family is also dying. The parts that have turned brown in the centre will never recover as unlike other trees they don't replace there leaves/needles. I'm sorry to give you bad news but there is no point in trying to nurture something that is beyond helping.

I like Pat's idea above, that would be perfect for your garden and will solve the problems with the lawn. :)
 
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Here is a picture that can give you some hints on your garden. It has been a year I would like to see what you did with the space last some and if you are still trying to make it work for you.

[
Here is a picture that can give you some hints on your garden. It has been a year I would like to see what you did with the space last some and if you are still trying to make it work for you.

Your garden looks absolutely beautiful Pat. Could you tell me what you have used as greenery around your stepping stones please?
 

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