On your way home from work, stop and grab a salad. And hey, grab a bouquet of flowers, too. No need to go to the grocery store. Pick them up on your way in the front door. Pick them from your front yard.
Growing your own food is appealing. The sunniest part of your yard is the best place to grow
vegetables. If that place happens to be your front yard, donÕt let that stop you. Plants are
beautiful. Why not choose edibles?
Vegetables, planted with the same principles youÕd use for perennial flowers, are both
attractive and productive.
ÒIf youÕre wanting an edible landscape in your front yard, plant smaller things in front. Plant
taller longer-season veggies in back,Ó said Patrick Rodysill of Star Apple Edible Gardens in
Tomatoes are an example of a longer-season plant. When creating a border, think of the
mechanics of maintaining an edible garden, he said.
ÒAt the front of the border, youÕll be harvesting and replanting more frequently so your plants
will be easier to access there,Ó said Rodysill, ÒTuck in marigolds. They will attract
beneficial insects. Add herbs or irises, and lavenders. Arrange it all as you would a perennial
Use the front of the border to successively seed. LetÕs take lettuce for example. If you plant
patches of lettuce every couple of weeks, the lettuces will mature at different times and
youÕll have a continual supply of lettuce.
ÒRadishes are such a great bang for the buck. They germinate in a day and are ready to harvest
in a week,Ó said Rodysill.
Starting a front yard vegetable garden doesnÕt have to mean a lot of digging. For beginning
gardeners, Rodysill suggests starting small and using a raised bed. A good option is our 4Õ by
4Õ raised bed system.
ÒInitially, start very small,Ó he said, ÒStick a tomato in one corner and a pepper in another.
Because vining plants like cucumbers take up so much space, install a trellis and grow the
cucumber vertically in another corner. In the last corner, youÕll have room for simple rows of
lettuce, radish or beets. Add marigolds.Ó
A garden this size is easy to water by hand and maintain. But make sure of the mature size of
the vegetables you plant in a small garden. Take time to draw a simple birds eye view of your
front yard vegetable garden.
ÒDrawing a plan helps you create a sense of order,Ó said Rodysill, Ò Also, if you have a plan
and hang onto it, you can see how it goes the first year, then note on the plan what you loved
and what you didnÕt like so you know how to do it different next time. Ò
So you have a plan and youÕre starting small. But are you worried about reactions from your
Rodysill said gardening in the front yard is a great way to get to know neighbors and educate
ÒIf youÕre outside working in your garden, neighbors walk by and ask questions. ItÕs a great
way to start conversations,Ó he said, ÒGardening is also a great way to start conversations
about nature with kids. Dig out a worm to show them. Plant borage and show kids how many bees
and butterflies you attract. Ò
He tells the story of planning a front yard edible garden for a client in an historic Victorian
district of a California town. The historic board and neighbors balked at his clientÕs hope for
a front yard filled with food.
RodysillÕs client explained to the board that before World War 2, front yards were used for
vegetable gardens and in fact, truer to Victorian ideals. His client won his case. Now, after
neighbors have seen the appeal, many others in the town have added vegetable gardens to their
We all know the feeling. YouÕre bushed and hungry at the end of the day.
ÒIf you come home wiped out after a long day, harvest a salad on your way in the door. Pick
some lettuce, some mesclun and some mustard green. Pull up a carrot and an onion and you have a
salad,Ó said Rodysill.
How convenient is that?