Spring has sprung, and for many Northsiders that means heading back outside to tend their gardens.

Whether or not you “dig” gardening, it’s apparent that these backyard, side yard and front stoop gardens have become an important part of the Northside’s character over the years.

Palo Alto Street resident John Bornyas has lived on the Northside for 10 years and is well known throughout the neighborhood for his unique gardening style.

“I’ve always been a plant fanatic,” John said. “Not only is it enjoyable to come home after work and see the flowers, but it also enhances the look of my house and the neighborhood.”

For people like John, gardening and planting is a fun and positive way to beautify their property. Every couple weeks or so, passersby can see a new floral decoration outside of John’s house. Depending on the season, you might find a nutcracker, an Easter bunny or a pumpkin sitting next to the flowers.

“Since we live in a city, it is important to pay close attention to the limited property we have,” John said. “A garden is great for any free space you may have.”

Colorado State University has researched the benefits of gardening and planting, and pinpointed several different ways that gardening helps individuals and the community.

An important finding in the study is that gardening has the ability to develop an individual’s sense of self-worth, as well as develop a sense of community by bringing people together for a common goal.

Jim and Colleen Swartz have lived on Cedar Avenue for the past four years, and have continually worked to turn their backyard into a garden oasis.

“We started planting about two years ago,” Colleen said. “Our garden is a work in progress that has been enjoyable for the whole family.”

The Colorado State researchers also found that after marriage, accessibility to green spaces is the second most important factor in overall life satisfaction.

Colleen said that for people that are visually oriented like her family, a garden affords the opportunity to experiment with creative color coordination. For example, Colleen plants flowers whose colors visually compliment her house.

“Having a garden softens the hardness of the city.”

Colleen has also used the garden as an educational tool for her children. After planting butterfly bushes, she was able teach her children about the life cycle of the butterflies that nested in the garden.

Gardening also has several health benefits, according to the study. One is the exercise that the gardener gets from tending to the plants. Another is people who keep gardens tend to have healthier diets.

The Swartz family is no exception to that. They’ve planted banana peppers, green peppers, tomatoes and lettuce to provide fresh food.

Gardening can also be a wonderful way to bring neighbors together. In Deutschtown, Dale and Audrey Craig share a garden with their neighbor Jen Saffron.

“It’s a real interest for some people,” Dale said. “Jen has done a lot of make the garden we share a nice addition to the property.”

Dale explained that over the years he has been converting the backyard into a comfortable haven for entertainment and relaxation. Along with brickwork and an old cast iron stove that he converted into a grill, the garden that the Craigs and Jen share adds to the
overall friendly environment of the backyard.

All of the positive benefits of gardening and planting can most easily be seen by walking around the Northside and checking out the gardens and flowers that people are using to decorate their houses.

Try walking past John’s house on Palo Alto Street without smiling. Guaranteed you can’t.