Peek into your neighbor's backyard at the South Philly Garden Tour - Metro US

Peek into your neighbor’s backyard at the South Philly Garden Tour

Point Breeze homeowners Joe Hayden and Chris Payne are looking forward to showing off their tricked out garden during the fifth annual South Philly Garden Tour, which takes participants west of Broad Street for the first time.

“The house was a new rehab when we purchased it — the backyard was full of concrete,” says Hayden. “I grew up in the country. We’re used to being in an outdoor space and not a brick lair.

“Once we did the demolishing, there was no going back.”

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That kind of backyard re-do is getting more and more common, says South Philly Food Co-Op volunteer Stephanie Zbikowski: “The scene seems to be expanding. There are more people buying houses, and they’re interested in taking care of the whole home, not just an apartment.”

The South Philly Food Co-Op organizes the annual tour of gardens. Tickets are $25 ($20 in advance); the money goes toward opening a member-owned grocery store.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and funds raised go towards opening the store — once we’ve found a location,” says Carolyn Huckabay, who sits on the board of directors for the Co-Op.

Payne and Hayden are participating for the first time this year. Their newly revamped backyard includes a deck, a natural gas fire pit and a koi pond — and lots of high-tech features.

“For electronics, we ran our Sony system so that our sound system is out there,” says Payne. “Even the fire pit has a remote control.”

The urban gardeners relied on YouTube tutorials and online research. “Don’t be afraid — just go for it,” says Hayden, offering advice to potential DIY-ers. “It is kind of daunting when you tear down the one wall or get the exposed space. [But] go big or go home.”

Join the tour

The tour starts at Julian Abele Park (22nd and Carpenter streets) Saturday at 1 p.m. and makes 29 stops, including private yards, community gardens and the Early Bird Urban Farm. It’s almost doubled the number of stops since it started in 2010. “People spend more time outside,” says Zbikowski.”There’s more community development. When I’m in my backyard or front stoop, I’m connecting with my neighbor.”

The after party is at Los Camaradas, at 22nd and Carpenter.

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