Backyard design on a budget

We gave Oak Park–based landscape designer Sue Ryba a tight budget and tiny city lot to revamp. Here’s how she’d do it.

1. Evergreen plants “You do want to have some privacy and yet still be neighborly,” Ryba says. Grab two 36” trees (like arbor vitae), $47 each at Home Depot(6211 N Lincoln Ave, 773-588-5828).

2. Herb and vegetable garden Ryba recommends small-space-friendly plants such as tomatoes, green beans and carrots. “Kids love to dig in the dirt,” she says. Pick up plants at the Kilbourn Park organic plant sale, May 19 and 20 (3501 N Kilbourn Ave, 773-685-3351,

3. Butterfly garden Black-eyed Susans, milkweed and coneflower will attract beautiful butterflies for the whole family to enjoy. Find butterfly-friendly plant seeds for $2–$4 each at City Escape Garden Center(3022 W Lake St,773-638-2000).

4. Multipurpose sandbox A smartly designed cedar sandbox like one by Badger Basket Toys ($150 at has two benches, and folds flat to protect sand from the elements.

5. Climbing rock wall “Kids can have fun just like they’re at the park,” says Ryba. Try the Child Works Climbing Wall 25-panel set, $168 (