For generations, American home owners have come to think the only acceptable look for the front yard is a few flower beds, maybe a shade tree and a carpet of green grass. Making yard space useful for exercise, hobbies or growing fruits and vegetables has been relegated to the hidden spaces behind the house – if done at all. It’s time to rethink garden design.
One of the most popular trends these days is removing lawns and substituting fruits and vegetables. Gardening experts across the country are working hard to promote the concept but not everyone is convinced. Not only are there many home owners who are still enamored with their water-hungry lawns, but there are plenty of home owner associations and cities that are mired in old ways of thinking.
First and foremost, lawns are nothing but a habit that originated in the early 1900’s when the fashion-conscious adopted lawns in the United States to compete with the landscapes of the British Isles. Lawns were virtually unknown in the drier climates of North America but became commonplace as people who’d grown up in moist climates moved into drier areas and brought along their demand for now-familiar lawns. So long as water was abundant, no one really complained about the proliferation of lawns. But with recent population growth, water demands and drought, this habit needs to be rethought.
There are now more reasons than ever to replace lawns with better choices. With the rising costs of growing food, the high incidence of hunger, the concern over fuel use for food shipments and the number of tainted-food recalls, it seems only logical to use garden space for something better than a brain-washed habit of clipped grass.
Most fruits and vegetables do require using a fair amount of water, but rather than rewarding the grower with hours of mowing and finicky edging, the result is healthy, tasty edibles. – And freshly cropped food is both healthier and tastier than food that has been shipped since both flavor and nutrients start degrading soon after harvest. Growing your own food also lets you select interesting or favorite varieties and organic growing methods.
There really are plenty of reasons to grow edibles in your front yard.
- If you want to replace your lawn, growing fruits and vegetables make a good choice.
- There are many decorative edibles that fruit, flower or offer foliage to make them as ornamental as traditional choices.
- Think of how much more fun it would be to welcome guests at your front door with an elegant pot filled with brightly colored, snack-able berries berries to greet them.
- Sometimes a backyard is either unavailable or less than ideal for growing edibles. If your front yard is the sunniest space for growing food, you can put that ideal space to use.
- Grow climbers, create decorative designs or even design edging with edible plants. You can paint any picture your want — just like with garden flowers — using edible plants.
- Consider planting in raised gardens. Not only can you make ornamental structures with stone, wood, bamboo, brick or block, but you can make the containers artistic with décor or paint. Raised gardens will also keep your fruits and vegetables safe from neighbors’ pets. (Or your own!)
- Add shade to the front of your home with fruit trees. Fruit and nut trees can offer just as much shade and beauty as non-edible ornamental trees. Some food-producing trees are showy in flower, colorful with fruit and some even turn dramatic colors in the autumn.
- Sharing excess produce is a wonderful way to strike up a friendship with your neighbors, cheer up a friend or help the hungry by donating to a food bank.
- Growing fruits and vegetables is a fun way to involve the whole family in an active, productive project — both children and seniors.
- And don’t forget all the good exercise and vitamin D gardening will add to strengthen your body.
One more thing to consider: you can have a unique and downright beautiful garden by growing edibles up front. With a little imagination, a fruit and vegetable garden can beat out the over-used grass-tree-and-flower-planter garden with creative design ideas.
These are just some reasons front yards are becoming the perfect home for edible gardens. Help change the attitudes of the unimaginative. And the next time you have to drag out your lawn mower or pay a big water bill, ask yourself if you might not make your front garden more colorful, artistic and productive by replacing it with an edible garden. You can have a front garden that is the envy of your neighbors, help balance the planet and expand our attitudes towards gardening. Now isn’t that an interesting thought?