Front Yard Veggie Gardens Improve Diet, Outrage Neighbors


The Associated Press has discovered front yard gardens and the ruckus that can ensue.  Among the highlights:

  • "Especially in the first three years, I got a lot of code
    violations," said Bob Waldrop of Oklahoma City. He planted his corner
    lot almost entirely with fruit trees, berry bushes and vegetables.

  • From a woman in Hunstville, AL:  "We promised our neighbor we wouldn’t grow corn, because that looks kind of tacky," …The neighbor also thought tomatoes looked "untidy."  (Editor’s note: We find toddlers in the front yard totally offensive.  Can’t something be done?)
  • From longtime edible landscape advocate Rosalind Creasy:  "One of the dumbest things I see is dead lawns in the winter. They’re brown for six months of the year. How beautiful is that?" (Creasy’s books are pure edible plant porn, but where the hell’s her blog?


  1. good grief. I was mortified by the attitude of commenters over at The Slow Cook a few weeks ago. Why are people so offended by food? Do they really want to have everything they eat grown in a monoculture environment, in another country? I really think people have become irrational about food. I’m afraid for us all because of it!

    and I will persist in my edible landscaping…I have just under an acre, and my goal is to have no lawn in 5 years. Luckily, thus far, my neighbors think it’s great and want me to teach them how to do it too…which gives me hope that people maybe don’t suck as much as I so often think they do!

  2. I live in a condo community where the condo association does most of the exterior landscaping. Since the front of my house faces south, I grow tomatoes in hanging baskets on either side of my front door. None of my neighbors has ever called them “untidy”! I have picked fairly compact varieties, and they make for attractive and unusual decor. Especially now that the tomatoes are starting to ripen, they look much more attractive than my heat-fried petunias. heh.

  3. “We promised our neighbor we wouldn’t grow corn, because that looks kind of tacky,”

    It’s true. Corn isn’t a very dignified front yard crop. Nor is okra. When front yard gardening, one must restrict one’s planting palette to parsley (Italian, duh), Mesclun mixes (must contain arugula) and endives. Did you not read the ordinance?

    Do harvest in the mornings, but not in your pajamas. Gently lay snipped greens in a $100+ trug (if you have to ask, go directly to the backyard). Wave at neighbors. Step inside.

  4. There was a lovely variegated corn being used in potted arrangements at the NC Arboretum. I thought they were quite nice.

    Maybe a red leafed corn could be developed. Both of these could be passed off as Miscanthus varieties to the unknowing.

    Front yard vegetable gardens in my neck of the woods are considered scenic thank goodness. They even designated the highway as such.

  5. Vegetable gardens in the front yard or the back yard for that matter do not have to be ugly nor ephemeral if the gardener planner takes a little time and applies GREEN STRUCTURE to the garden plan .

    Personally I think Fritz Haeg , the artist dude who is going around the country ripping out front lawns ,planting vegetable gardens and publicizing his every move is not doing this trend any favors by totally missing the mark on good sound garden design.

    There is absolutely no reason why one cannot have a YEAR round beautiful vegetable garden ( even in snowy climates ) . All it takes is horticultural knowledge and design skill.

    Where Fritz and others fail is planning for the seasons.
    When their early spring gardens are but a patch of plain tilled dirt there has been no forethought as to the green bones or the architectural stature to the yard.
    The scape looks like an agricultural zone rather than a residential zone, and there lays the sore subject that the Planning and Building departments object to as well as some neighbors.

    Those who might be considering ripping out their lawns would serve themselves well by reading some garden history, starting with the late medieval secular gardens ( the 1400’s ) and how they planned the “frame work” of their food production gardens.

    A good book to start with on this subject was written by Roy Strong entitled Small Period Gardens – A Practical Guide to Design and Planting.

    someone ought to send old Fritzy this book.

  6. While I’m am advocate of growing what you want in your front yard I do not live in the country or a gated comunnity.This is an urban street in a neighborhood. I do have ornamental gourds growing and no one has complained. Now the rain garden is getting good comment as it is starting to fill in a bit. But as for edibles well you should read this girl’s take on
    food out front, it is funny but makes you shudder if you live in the city.

  7. That’s brilliant. My father once stood outside and watched the 800th dog walk by and piss on his pansies while its owner smiled down lovingly at it, and Dad could not resist saying, “Hey! We eat those flowers!”

    What is it about dog owners and bathroom breaks in other people’s gardens? I feel a rant coming on.

  8. Michelle, thanks for posting about the Roy Strong book. I’d love to read more about how to plan a real structure to my gardens as I slowly replace lawn with edibles. So far I’m moving in from the edge with keyhole beds, with a graduating plant size, smaller towards the front, larger in back. It’s a real challenge to find the right amount of sun, and is tempting to just tear up the middle of the yard and put a giant garden in, but I think that would turn my city lot into a neglected looking farm.

    What’s really cool is seeing how the yard changes shape with each small addition, and how the new shape calls out what will happen next. Fortunately we’re set way back from the road on a quadruple lot. It feels like a slice of the country right in the downtown.

  9. I live in town on a city lot in a tall house. My postage-stamp backyard is surrounded by a tall house and my tall garage so I had to give up on trying to grow much back there. Left to my own devises, I have chosen to plant tomatoes, zucchini, artichokes and a few strawberries in my front garden under the hollyhocks and next to the dahlias. I reclaimed this garden from the lawn located there when we moved in and am slowly whittling away at the remaining piece of lawn. I figure, if I’m going to tend to it, I want it to PRODUCE something.
    My husband laughs when he sees people stop on the sidewalk discussing my artichokes….many just had no idea how they grew and have NO clue how to eat them.

  10. If AP is reporting on front yard vegetable gardens, it can only mean more people are doing it and that´s a good thing. And I do plant okra in my front yard vegetable garden. It is related to hibiscus and produces lovely blooms.

    the slow cook

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