Project Grow's Matthaei Community Garden is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Rd., on the grounds of the University of Michigan's Matthaei Botanical Gardens. All 26 plots at this site are annual plots. The property is loaned to us by the University of Michigan. 

Gardeners may use the gravel road that runs adjacent to the gardens for loading and unloading cars only.

PARKING: Starting in 2012, non-member Matthaei Botanical Gardens visitors are required to pay for parking. Project Grow will provide all of its Matthaei gardeners with a tag which will allow them to park in the field next to the garden sites.

MAP OF GARDEN:  Matthaei Map

SITE COORDINATORS: Marilyn Swanson (, Leah Tremonti (

SOIL: Soil testing done in 2010 showed Matthaei's soil to be alkaline, with a pH of 7.8. Most vegetable crops prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil. Sawdust, composted leaves, wood chips, cottonseed meal, leaf mold and especially peat moss, will lower the soil pH. 15# sulfur is the recommended application for a full plot to lower pH to 6.5 The soil texture is clay, has average nutrient holding capacity and is 5% organic matter which is ideal. 2.25# nitrogen ,1# phosphorous and .15# potassium are prescribed for a full plot at the beginning of the season with regular applications of nitrogen throughout.

INDIVIDUAL PLOT MAINTENANCE:  All gardeners are responsible for keeping weeds down in their plots and along the adjacent pathways. Various mulches, in keeping with the Project Grow gardening guidelines, may be used in your garden to inhibit weed growth, conserve water, and promote a hospitable micro-climate for plants and worms. Marsh hay is usually available in the spring, delivered to the garden from a local grower for a reasonable fee. If interested in learning more about marsh hay deliveries contact your site coordinator.

GARDEN MAINTENANCE:  The major perimeters and paths of the garden are mowed by the MBG maintenance staff only if we keep the area free from organic refuse and other debris and stones. Please pile rocks in designated areas break mower blades! Please take all non-organic materials home with you when you leave the site. Please help make the gardens beautiful this summer by maintaining your own plot and keeping the gardens free from debris, etc.

WATER:  Water comes from a nearby well and pump that is furnished by MBG. Water is generally turned on in mid- May and off in mid-September. Please try to conserve water by mulching well and watering only when necessary. No sprinklers please.   Please reel up the hose after use.  If you spot a leak in the hose lines, either make the repairs yourself or notify the site coordinators.

TOOLS:  A supply of tools is kept in a plastic tool locker.  Please return tools to the locker after use. If you have any tools that you wish to donate to the garden, feel free to put them in the locker and then notify the Project Grow office.

ANIMALS: The existing deer fence at MBG surrounds the community gardens, but as with any garden, smaller wildlife (such as raccoons, groundhogs, and rabbits) are always attracted to the plentiful food in a garden.  Gardeners will need to employ techniques to deter wildlife.  Some gardeners choose to install a low chicken wire fence around their own plots. We recommend black/green plastic or wire fencing. (Please do not use orange construction fence and remember to remove your fencing at the end of the season). For the best results, bury the fence 8” below ground and bend it away from the garden to stop animals digging underneath.

COMMUNICATION:  We use the garden group email list to make important announcements.  If you have not already notified us of your email address, let us know right away! Finally, our electronic newsletters, which are sent out monthly through the growing season, will also contain important information about upcoming projects and events.

ABANDONED PLOTS:  Plots that have not been seriously worked by June 1st or are overgrown with weeds taller than 18” at any point in the season will be considered abandoned and will be reassigned or solarized. Contact your site coordinator or the office if you are having problems getting started or if you have to abandon your plot.

FALL CLEAN-UP:  Your plot must be cleared no later than day's end on the third Saturday in October. Organic material must be chopped up and spread evenly across your plot, to be plowed under later. Take home all non-organic materials, i.e. fences, stakes, plastic, paper, etc. Failure to clean up your plot according to the guidelines set forth in the Member Handbook may result in expulsion from the garden.

Gardener Comments and Suggestions

  • Reappearing groundhogs; now next door to U-M Campus Farm; convenient parking with addition of new gate; location makes it seem that you are out in the country, though you're right in the botanical gardens.