Front yard veggie garden design

MiaOKCMarch 3, 2014

I saw this blog post this morning and thought it was such a pretty front yard (reminds me of wbonesteel's edible front yard, but much more informal). Thought I'd share.

Here is a link that might be useful: Edible front yard design

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Very Cool.

I know a lot of communities and Home owners associations frown upon and even dont allow "veggie" gardens in the front but if you mix in a few edibles I dont think anyone would know the difference. I stuck some onion in random holes in many of my flower beds because I figured why not. I didnt want to take up more space in the veggie garden and had extras.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've got strawberries in the front flower beds, mixed in with the hydrangeas and peonies. I am working to loosen the tough clay soil up enough for sweet potatoes, since I plant ornamental sweet potatoes every year anyway. I'm pressed for space in the veggie garden, too, and plan to utilize interplanting in the front beds a little more.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You can use most contemporary landscape designs to plant fruits and veggies. As long as you keep up on the weeds and clean up dead leaves and such, it's going to look pretty good when you're finished. When and where applicable, check your HOA's, covenants, zoning and such, before you start.

I went with a formal design just because I could. Plus, I think it looks better, but that's just my opinion. A country cottage veggie garden will look pretty, too.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

isnt it just sad that there is even a mention of HOA's and municipalities that frown upon vegetable growing in the front yard. I mean I can understand if someone has a row of corn down the sides of the driveway but come on America. One day I strongly feel that the people who make all these silly laws will be the ones begging for an ear of corn.

You know what My neighborhood doesnt have any covenants. I may just line the sides of my driveway with corn this year. HA, that will show 'em


    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:58AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm thinking that some HOAs have seen gardeners with a weed ridden yard with some squash vines wandering around, and perhaps generous helpings of manure/flies.
There is a huge difference between well kept veggie gardens and badly planned and kept ones. I have veggies in my front flower gardens but in my opinion they look nice.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think that some of the concern about growing edibles in front has to do with how close traffic usually is to front yards, since traffic causes buildup of metals. It is recommended that edibles be grown at least 33 to 100 meters from the road. Of course the particular factors will determine the best distance for each yard... how much traffic, what kind of traffic, etc.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have to chime in and say I find it very tacky to see tomatoes growing in front yards. There is an lovely example up the street each year, cages, brown leaves and all. That is what backyards are for, isn't it? Maybe it a problem because of the three dogs pinned in back there? The idea of corn growing along a driveway in a residential area is tacky, who wants see that? I should count myself lucky we don't have that along with the 'mater plants up the street.

The problem is that this is exactly what some people would do if allowed to grow vegetables in their front yards so a law is written to deal with people who will inevitably take such an idea to this point. Still, its difficult to be told what you can or cannot plant. I think the real offenders are those who don't care how it looks and do this sort of visually tacky thing, they are the ones who make other people enforce such laws.

I don't imagine much fuss would be made if someone planted some low growing attractive vegetable plants, like the attachment in the original post, among perennials in a considerate way. I doubt anyone would complain or that most people would even notice. Of course, there is always the possibility of living next to some nit picking correctness police type who cannot help but make a big noise based on legal technicalities.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 4:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I'll be selective about future posts containing pictures.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 7:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't worry about that. I posted mine once on a different forum and was told my garden looked like plants suitable for parking lot plantings or maybe "suitable for industrial sites" but not for a decorative garden. The word mess was used along with some advice to follow correct landscaping principles (whatever those are). I've seen yours. Its not anything like the one I was describing, just in case you are reacting to what I said.

When you line up a row of crooked tomato cages across the front of your house and then a crooked row of onions in front of that and then let the summer sun bake it into a dried out mess all summer, its not pretty. Even parking lot plants look good by comparison.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 11:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lisa_H OK(7)

Ha, even my flower gardens can look pretty sad by August! I have put tomatoes with their cages in my front driveway beds. In a cottagey type bed they don't stand out. I will say they have not produced well either...but that may be more my fault than the poor tomato plants. I do have success slipping my basil in the beds, though.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was being facetious :P I have stuff in the front yard. I'm counting on more but not unless I can get it somewhat symmetrical like wbnsteel's. I was shocked that it's mostly his hard work, very little moolah invested. Well, I was encouraged anyway.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 12:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

Greatplains. I'm not going to plant corn down the driveway. Just wanted you to know


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 6:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I planted corn, grapes. and banana trees in my front lawn when I lived in Ft. Smith. There was only one was into this village of about 80 houses. There was a covenant, I am not sure what all it contained, and did not care. My lawn looked better than any lawn in the area, I even won the Orchid Award and got my picture in the paper. My address has changed, but my attitude has not. If someone does not like the way my lawn and garden look they can turn their head. And, by the way, I still get a lot of compliments on my lawn and garden, but it is nowhere near as nice as what I had in Ft. Smith. My lawn is larger and I am older and just cant do the things I did years ago.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At present, we have approx. $2,500 invested in our front garden, including amendments, plants, edging, mulch and such. I consider that to be a one time 'capital investment,' and think of it as a 'write-off' when considering long term production from the garden. Once that sort of thing is written off, we're getting more than four pounds of food for every dollar we invest (including water bills).

The average monthly investment, over a three year period, has been less than a hundred bucks per month. That cost also includes veggie seeds, bare root roses and potted plants, such as rosemary and lavender. Some months, we've spent a couple hundred bucks, other times we've spent nothing but time on it.

Paying a landscape company to do all of the work on our installation? Depending on materials, you'll pay $25,000 and up for the same or similar installation as we planned and installed.

Of course, the gravel in the pathways was recovered from the graveled driveway, which wasn't installed properly and had way too much gravel in it, to start with. (Long story.) That saved a ton of money - pun intended.

Most of the bulbs in our flowerbeds were 'gifted' or the result of trades. Full retail on those bulbs would be around $6,000. - $9,000. Yeah, we have a lot of bulbs out there. This will be the first year that most of them should flower.

So, there are cost cutting and cost saving measures to take, if you have the time and patience for it.

This installation has eliminated erosion and flooding on our little 1/4 acre lot, as well, which was the original purpose of all of that work. Getting fruits and veggies out of it was a secondary benefit. Making it look about halfway nice was a tertiary consideration. (How can I fix the drainage problem, make this look nice when I'm finished - and pay for itself?)

We still have approx. $600. to spend on canes, fruit trees and berry bushes. In time, hopefully, we'll dig up the rest of the bermuda and put in edible ground covers.

Later on, most of the flower bulbs will be removed and will be replaced with edible berry bushes - blueberries, gooseberries, bush cherries, currants, etc.

We also have extra produce, from time to time, that we give away or trade.

With planning and foresight, an edible garden can offer multiple benefits to a home owner or property owner.

Added benefit: All of that work dropped our property insurance a bit. ...which, in our specific case, meant added coverage for the same price. We've also increased the equity/value of our little home, as well.

Toss in a bit of personal satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment...and a bit of nature's beauty and bounty to enjoy, while sitting under a shade tree with a glass of ice tea.

YMMV. Batteries not included. No warrantees meant or implied.

(Note: If we were living in the country, the installation would have been completely different - probably a country cottage garden. I'd have been planting stuff everywhere!)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 11:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I truly appreciate your passion. I have the same (as much as my body will allow and that's getting stronger). I want the whole place green with the goal of double duty duty plants for erosion control, medicinal, feed, fodder and food.

Bill was out back cussing at Frankentiller, stalling every 100 feet. What I discerned as 'tinkering' with the crappy machine was him constantly replacing parts, belts and bolts. No wonder he was cussing. Meanwhile, I stood rubbing my hands together lusting over potential food and grain beds. Later, we decided rent a tiller option. I wondered why he never asked where I wanted the garden. I try not to nag. When the opportunity arose, I plugged the question.

"Oh. I was gonna till up the entire back yard."

I am THRILLED. I won't be able garden in most of it. Instead, I'll pull the bermuda and sprinkle buckwheat all over the place and compost and compost and compost and mulch and grow more buckwheat and compost and mulch. I promised him I'd do everything I could to avoid needing to till again. We'll see.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lisa_H OK(7)

Throw some amaranth seed in for fun :)

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 12:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I feel like Larry does that it is our property and that we'll grow what we want where we want and how we want. People who don't like it can just ignore it.

Having said that, I'd never buy a home in an area with an HOA because I wouldn't want to deal with having anyone telling me "you cannot grow that here". I think people who try to fight their HOA are fighting a losing battle. If they knew and understood the HOA landscaping and gardening rules before they bought their place, I feel like they need to abide by them. If they weren't aware of the HOA rules before they bought or built their home, I feel sorry for them---but that is their own fault for not taking the time to learn the HOA rules in advance and understand they'd have to abide by them.

We live in a rural area and our house sits back several hundred feet from the road, so people driving by wouldn't even know what we do or don't have growing in the yard itself. My whole original veggie garden sits between the road and the house because that is where the best soil was. I do grow corn alongside my driveway because in this specific situation, that's one of the best sunny spots I have available for corn. It is not right down by the road because I never would want for anything I planted to block the view of people entering or leaving our driveway.

No one ever has complained to us about our garden any place we've lived. When we lived in town, most of the veggies were in the back yard but I grew tomatoes and peppers in both side yards because the back yard was too heavily shaded by neighbors' trees. No one got offended by it, but we did maintain the lawn and flower beds impeccably and it isn't bragging to say we had the nicest landscape on the block because it is true. It also was an old, well-established neighborhood where some families had gardened ever since their homes were built in the 1940s, so people were used to seeing veggies, herbs and fruit trees in front, back and side yards. Heck, we had people who had chickens and sheep because they had them long before city ordinances banning them were written so their animals were grandfathered in. While there was a certain implicit pressure to have a nice yard, overall there still was a certain respect for the rights of other people to grow what they wanted wherever they wanted. People had more of a live-and-let-live attitude back then.

I do understand why people living in an urban or suburban area might not appreciate a front yard with edible landscaping it old plants aren't removed when they decline, for example, or if it isn't maintained and kept neat in appearance and relatively weed-free. I don;t like looking at gardens like that either, but even so, people have a right to do what they want with their property. If they want to leave old, dying and dead veggie plants in their yard, that's none of my business. Still, I cringe when I drive by a front yard edible garden or edible landscape that is not well-maintained.

Lots of people in our area are like us--the house is set way back from the road and the gardens are in front of the house or on either side of it. We're in a pretty rural area, though, and I don't think people in our area expect everyone to have a highly manicured city-type yard. A lot of them moved here to get away from that sort of suburban setting.

I guess I am a libertarian because I think people should be able to use their land as they see fit, within the established zoning rules and municipal or county ordinances, or state and federal laws.

When we were kids, one of our neighbors ripped out her entire front lawn and replaced the thirsty St. Augustine grass with a blend of native grasses, wildflowers, native shrubs and trees. This was a neighborhood where everyone had perfect green lawns that were meticulously maintained and always edged and mowed so that the lawns looked like perfect little green carpets. At that time, I thought it was a rather bold move, and wasn't sure I liked it. She had to fight her neighbors and city hall for the right to landscape her property as she saw fit. She won.That was back in the 1970s and she was really ahead of her time. The xeriscaping and don't-bag-it movements would come along much later.

As I watched her plantings change over the seasons, seeing the ebb and flow of the different flowering times and such, I gained a great appreciation for what she had done, but I admit it took some time. While everyone around her had a perfect green lawn, their yards didn't have much life. Her property? She had birds singing and flitting around, butterflies and moths galore, dragonflies and hummingbirds, etc.The lovely prairie grasses and flowers swayed gently in the wind. The colors changed over the months depending on what was in bloom. I loved it. I believe she helped pave the way for other people who felt constrained by peer pressure to have a yard that looked a certain way. I have nothing against lawn grass maintained to look like a perfect green carpet if that is what the resident wants, but I don't think any of us has a right to tell anyone else how they must grow their plants or where. Freedom of choice is important in this country,and I feel like it applies to gardeners too.

I have made dozens of new friends I might never have met otherwise if I didn't have the garden out front. Dating back to our earliest days here, people who were driving by always have stopped to talk to me when I am working in the garden. Often they just want to say how much they like it, or they ask about a certain flowering vine or plant. Sometimes they are having trouble with something they grow and want to know if I have that same issue. If I had been out back behind the house several hundred feed back from the road all day every day, I doubt I would have met all those wonderful people because the homes here are widely scattered. A front garden can be a wonderful conversation starter whether it is in an urban, suburban or rural setting. In many parts of the world (Italy and France, for example) people have had front yard edible gardens for centuries.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I didn't realize I was being controversial, I just thought it was a pretty picture! :)

I live in a neighborhood with a voluntary HOA. In reality, even if our HOA was mandatory, currently the HOA does not own the covenants to the neighborhood (two square miles developed in the 1960s-1980s), as the developer/builder has retained these rights when he developed the property. Covenants are written into your property deed, and those are what are required to be adhered to and what most people mean when they say their HOA is making them do something - often an HOA is enforcing the covenants, although I'm sure some have made up their own rules in addition to the legal covenants.

In our neighborhood, when the original developer/builder passed on, the covenants and their enforcement passed to his son, who happens to also be a builder/developer and lives in the neighborhood. Since it has been decades since the development was much of a business in our neighborhood, the son (understandably) doesn't seem to care much about enforcing or not enforcing the covenants. He's got bigger fish to fry these days.

When I had a major tussle last fall with a neighbor regarding a new fence we erected, the HOA wasn't much help to the complaining neighbor, and the developer didn't much care since the fence was legally built, although some interpretations of the very loosely written covenants might argue that permission to build a fence should have been granted prior to doing so. The gray area is in replacing an existing fence, and our covenants don't address that, and for all practical purposes, probably 99% of the people in my neighborhood have no idea there are even any neighborhood covenants. Had I known, of course I would have sought permission. When we embarked on a major remodel of our pool, I tracked down the developer (not easy) and got permission to be sure we were on the up and up - it turns out, there is nothing in our covenants about remodeling a pool, so I didn't even need their permission, but I got it in writing from them just in case, due to the ongoing actions of our neighbor.

I personally don't really mind what people do with their yards as long as they are well-maintained. Bland patch of lawn? Fine, keep it mowed and the weeds cut down. Extensive plantings? As long as it's weeded and watered and kept cleaned up, I don't mind. At my own house, I have had some real Rube Goldberg contraptions to corral my tomatoes, and I don't think they would look good in the front yard, so they hide back behind the shed - where also I keep tomato cages, stacks of bricks and spare pots and the like. I would not want to see that in a front yard because although those things have utility to me, I can see that it looks like a messy stack of junk to everyone else. Also, when tomato plants are running wild and then getting crispy-fried in August (and I leave them like that to let the tomatoes set as much as possible), that doesn't look nice either so I wouldn't put that in the front yard. My DH didn't like looking at my veggie garden from the patio at our last house, so I purposely sited it away from the main part of the backyard in our new house, because it's almost totally utilitarian and I don't really make an effort for it to be aesthetically pleasing, just productive. Maybe some day. If DH doesn't want to look at it, I imagine the neighbors don't, either.

I own properties next to some real doozies. I think especially in more modest neighborhoods where all the fences are 4 foot chain link, even the backyard should not be exempt from maintenance. We had a distant neighbor that would complain about a pecan tree in the adjacent yard dropping pecans into her yard. She got the utility company to cut down the neighbor's tree, and one of ours while they were there. I'm still mad about that! Her yard was actually 80% covered in plastic tubs (hundreds of empty yogurt containers, milk jugs, sour cream and margarine tubs), rusted metal, trash, debris and other pack-ratted stuff. One time my husband dug a short volunteer sapling out of the corner of her yard (I think it had a 4 foot taproot or something similarly insane and took hours and hours) because it was bothering her and he is a nice guy. I wanted to say "LOOK AROUND! THIS TINY TREE IS WHAT BOTHERS YOU ABOUT YOUR YARD?!" I recognize hoarding behavior when I see it (my grandma is really borderline, sometimes over the borderline), and felt sorry for this older woman. But I still didn't like seeing her stuff from my back porch or dealing with the mosquito hoards her collections garnered.

My mother lives in Duncan, and doesn't have an HOA, however the city has greatly infringed upon her front yard garden. Her neighbor complained about her densely planted front yard (not veggies, all ornamentals), and the code inspector came out and required she move all plants over a certain height back a certain distance from the curb. So she had to transplant all taller items closer to the house, and make sure the stuff near the curb was something like 2 feet or shorter for a distance of some amount, maybe 6-10 feet into the yard. I believe they also had to install some sort of fence to shield the neighbor's view of their front yard, but I'm not sure about all the details of why/if that was required, I just know they had to build a taller fence close to the house that stepped down in size closer to the curb. It was quite the drama for a while, with repeated visits by code enforcement, some kind of hearing, having a nurseryman out to the house to inspect it, etc. It's all ok now, but it was a pain because all the sun-loving things were planted at the edge and moving them meant they don't thrive in the shady parts close to the house. Her front garden is a lot like going through a botanical garden or greenhouse. It's a normal size or even smallish lot, but you cannot see her house from the street - it's like a jungle, with different "rooms" and fountains and statuary and tons and tons of shade plantings under a huge tree. However, I can see why her neighbor didn't like it - it is very different and stands out in a sea of lawns and foundation shrubs (if that) like a sore thumb. The point may be moot soon since water rationing in Duncan is getting very aggressive and a lot of her shade plants will not make it. She's going to send a lot of her thirstiest plants to me to have "temporarily" if rationing gets worse.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It's politics. Always controversial. That kid in Florida who started building a forest looks like a kook. I love what he's doing, but doing so at the expense of losing his home makes him a fool. He just might pull through with enough support, but someone is going to pay the thousands in fines he's accumulated. He's headed to upper courts. I doubt it'll fly.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 4:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mia, I loved the picture.

wbonesteel - I would be interested in a thread, with pictures, of your berry plantings, especially raspberries. I hope to be doing a berry bed very soon at my son's house and could sure use the help.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 10:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

At the moment, there's nothing much to see, Grandmom. Basically, in one bed, there are three sticks poking out of three or four inches of black mulch! In another bed, there are three sticks poking out of the soil. LOL. Mebbe later this month, we'll get that bed mulched.

A lot of prep work, though. Lots of compost, a bit of builder's sand, some composted manure and some magnesium sulfate. I've also mixed in leaf mold, here and there and now and then. Until now, I've used the beds for everything from watermelons to mustard greens and sweet potatoes.

Once the mulch is in those beds, I'll plant more strawberries and plant some rhubarb with the canes.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

wbonesteele - Thanks for the response. I was wondering if you would have a trellis system of some sort.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have plenty of time to think about a support system.

One option I've looked at is to simply 'weave' the canes together, creating their own support structure. Another is to use a couple of bamboo poles and some twine or stainless steel wire stretched between the poles. I generally use Velcro garden 'tape' to hold bushes, canes or saplings to the wire or twine. It's pretty easy to make adjustments that way.

Again, if I lived in the country, I'd more or less plant 'em and forget about 'em, except for yearly pruning.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 10:32AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Intercropping Tomatoes
with Sweet corn? Is it doable? with so many tomato...
I am so freakin sick of tornados!
Amanda Odom
How can I add photos to my posts?
I know many of you do this....I have tried to find...
First post
This is my first try at posting. Did it work
Okay. So, I was overly optimistic when I purchased...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™