before and after

Before & After: Brooklyn Backyard Makeover

by Grace Bonney

One of my biggest dreams related to moving to the country was getting to build my own garden. I made grand plans, bought a car-full of plants, and now I feel both a little overwhelmed but also overjoyed by the prospect of having space to grow things. So far, I’m mainly focusing on tending to fledgling bushes and trying to avoid the giant black snake that likes to sleep in our lilac tree, but it would be amazing to make-over everything in one fell swoop. That’s not in our budget right now, so I’m living vicariously through this Brooklyn backyard makeover that comes to us from Matt and Jessi of Green & Ground.

These two were lucky enough to find a house that came with a (rough) backyard and through a lot of hard work and some major plant bed planning, they’ve create a little urban oasis for themselves, plant ladder included. Click through to check out their process. I can only imagine how lovely it must be to have breakfast outside and watch all those beauties grow. xo, grace

Matt and Jessi's garden, before & after.
Matt and Jessi's garden/backyard, before. The space had been left to grow over for years and was in need of some fresh soil, cleaning, weeding and a little love.
A defunct flower bed, waiting to be given a second chance.
Digging out rocks from the rubble that can be used to line the flower bed or surrounding garden wall.
Getting the flower beds ready for soil and mulch. Beds that have been left fallow for a long time need to be turned over and given some new fresh soil to come back to life.
The new space! Fresh sod was laid in the front and new soil was added to the back bed to make space for new plants to be planted.
Jessi planting new plants in the flower bed.
I love this sweet little path Matt and Jessi created from the fresh grass to the growing plants.
Now Matt and Jessi have a cheerful backyard where they can relax and entertain.
A table and bright red chairs on the patio, at which they can enjoy meals and enjoy their hard work outside.
The view from the table to the garden.
I love the idea of using a ladder to hang and display potted plants.
The view from the apartment out to the garden.
Air conditioners are a necessary eyesore in summer, but these plants will grow in to be a nice distraction.

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  • so lovely!!! (and a black snake the sleeps in the tree? my worst nightmare….ugh….)

  • That was a lot more than a little love. All they need now is a graffiti artist to paint the walls on the adjoining buildings.

  • So cute! Having an outdoor space is like having a wonderful and relaxing extra room in your house, especially in the city. Grace, I totally feel you on that overwhelmed feeling, I have it sometimes too! I just have to remind myself that gardens take seasons, and it’ll look even better every year. :)

  • Like the author of the captions, I would much rather see a wedding than a weeding, but I think a garden needs a weeding instead of a wedding. Is it okay to make a ‘joke’ about typos?

  • Love, love, love!

    More gardens, please! Will you be blogging about your gardening plans, Grace? I saw you mention keeping a journal on instagram but would love a peek.

    • hi kayce!

      there’s not a ton to show in our garden right now because my plan was to wait a full year and see what comes up ( we moved in during the winter so i had NO idea what was already planted). so next year i’ll have better updates ;)


  • wow, how inspiring! It really took some vision to pull this off. It’s gorgeous! I would love to see a house tour from these two…..

  • what a really sweet spot. their hard work really paid off. it’s going to just get better and better too as all those plants fill in.