Study Your Surroundings
A landscape designer and teacher, Carlson moved to this home six years ago with her husband and two children and began by studying the big picture: where the sun fell, what the soil was like, how rainwater flowed, where it collected. Then, as soon as she had ripped out ivy and overgrown shrubs, taken down a dead cherry tree, and removed lawn to widen the planting beds, she started enriching the sandy soil with coffee grounds collected from local coffee shops. "They add organic matter, which breaks down slowly, and worms love the paper filters," she says of the cast-off grounds, which normally head for the landfill in plastic bags. "Plus, they smell great!"
Shown here: Homeowner Jennifer Carlson, who runs her own design/build landscape business, holds Zelda, one of three hens she keeps to help aerate and fertilize the soil and to supply eggs.