The ability to grow your own food is a right, as much as it is a privilege and a duty. And it isn’t something that some of us are willing to give up so easily. You know who you are!
If the idea of survival gardening has ever entered your mind, only you didn’t have the amount of land it takes to grow such abundance, or the skills to make it happen, why not start in your front yard. Prove to yourself you have what it takes to grow food in a small space.
All closer to the public eye, of course.
Let me give a little hint here – people will be much more accepting, and appreciating, of a front yard vegetable garden if it looks beautiful too.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you’ll never please everyone, but a well-maintained garden goes a long way in helping to merge with the mainstream view of perfectly manicured lawns over somewhat wild and unruly vegetables.
Once you decide you’re up for the adventure – or you’ve run out of space to grow more food – then get your seed catalogs ready, make your necessary (and unnecessary) orders, and make a plan to get started on your front yard vegetable garden.
Why grow food in your front yard?
There are several great reasons to grow veggies in your front yard, instead of a homogeneous green weed-free lawn that never gets used for anything. You may even discover your own that aren’t listed here.
Most important, however, is that growing food is every gardener’s dream.
The ability to garden often saves money on your grocery bill, it allows you to spend more meaningful time outside (we could all use more of that) and it provides you with a sense of self-reliance that no statistic can stick a monetary figure on.
To some, gardening is utter joy and happiness.
While it’s possible to begin growing food with the ease of a back porch container garden, even there you may quickly outgrow your growing space.
Let’s be honest, sometimes your backyard can be too shady for even the hardiest shade-loving vegetables.
When that happens, it’s time to take a serious look at your front yard space.
Notice the size of the plot, calculate the number of sunny hours, and check whether or not the soil is suitable for growing (raised beds are perfect for when it’s not), after reading through these six reasons for growing your own front yard vegetable garden.
1. Vegetables are beautiful, so start growing them.
In this article, you’ll eventually come to some information about rules and regulations regarding front yard growing. Things that are always good to know before you grow, that can also get in the way of your gardening dreams…
For the moment, let’s focus on the positives and get your creativity blooming.
A great reason to plant a front yard veggie garden is for the beauty of food alone.
With just a few raised beds, you can create a beautifully landscaped food and flower paradise, with the option of a full salad harvest in season.
Leaf lettuces can be showy, especially when different varieties are planted close together. Nasturtiums have aromatic flowers and delectable leaves that are both beautiful and edible.
Even a blooming row of purple chive flowers can attract some wildlife. Which brings us to your neighbors and passersby.
2. Get to know your neighbors and build a stronger social network at the same time.
Your front yard is a not-quite-public space, yet it is still private property. If you choose to plant there, people will inevitably stop by to talk and ask questions. In exchange for their curiosity, you may want to gift them with a few tomatoes, or a stem of rosemary for their dining pleasure.
In this way, you build up relationships, as you get to know your neighbors. If you don’t already know them, this may be your chance to get involved. And if you do, maybe they will join you in gardening for a share of the crop.
Perhaps they will be so bold as to start their own front yard garden.
The more people who join you, the more it will be accepted. You know how that goes.
So, let’s make vegetable growing popular again – and maybe we can swap homegrown veggies instead of cakes and cookies. Or at least a pan of carrot cake, with roots from your own front yard garden.
3. Not enough space in your backyard? Grow out in front.
As previously mentioned, some of us are not so well endowed with backyard space. Or maybe it’s used for other activities such as sports, relaxing, or for the dog to be fenced in.
It’s entirely possible that your backyard is shaded by your, or your neighbors’, taller trees.
If you have a suitable front yard space, it’s worth looking into its user-friendliness. As you add a small water feature, bird feeders and blooming flowers, it can act as a small rewilding patch as well. Something all neighborhoods could benefit from.
4. Grow edible flowers and herbs.
Thinking beyond vegetables such as tomatoes, peas and cabbages, a front yard garden is quite useful for growing cut flowers, as well as edible ones.
The same goes for growing herbs too. All of this provided that you’re not too close to a busy road. Or that you can provide an ornamental fence or border to shield your edible crops.
Related reading: 30 Edible Flowers You Can Eat Right Out Of Your Garden
One often overlooked aspect of gardening is that many common weeds are edible.
This may not go over well with those who find your garden unkempt, or too unruly for their taste. Many weeds taste wonderful and add beneficial nutrients into our diet, dandelion being perhaps the most universal one.
Naturally, you can take care of the weeds as you weed your garden, to keep it as clean and tidy as possible. If someone ever questions your wild side, just offer them a small jar of your homemade dandelion salve.
5. Because grass isn’t food.
One significant reason to grow food, not lawns, is to put the notion of a grassy lawn to bed. A raised bed might be best.
Green lawns are a monoculture crop that turns otherwise useful space into a single-species (non-flowering) carpet that is rarely walked upon.
Within this concept of “short grass envy”, one must also take into consideration the use of excessive fertilizers, amount of time spent mowing, discarding of grass clippings and all the cumulative energy needed to keep it going.
All of that effort only to feed the aforementioned envy and the eyes, not your stomach.
Unless you have front yard sheep, goats or rabbits, your lawn may be taking over space that could be better utilized by growing edible crops that supplement your store-bought diet.
At the very least, you could turn your front lawn into a meadow to attract more day and night wildlife. Giving back to nature always feels good. Plus it gives you a reason to sit outside and watch the new neighborhood activity buzzing around you.
Related reading: How To Turn Your Lawn Into A Wildflower Meadow (& Why You Should)
6. Positive change makes a big impact.
To make a positive impact, you need to set a great example.
Make sure your front yard vegetable garden really stands out by keeping it maintained.
Prune your plants back when necessary, don’t let the weeds grow too tall before pulling them out (or eating them), and make sure everything is watered and thriving to the best of your ability.
As your front yard garden becomes a useful and productive space, people will take note, and hopefully wish to do the same.
Give it time.
It takes time to adjust from seeing a consistent blanket of green, to seeing a multitude of crops in layers. Begin to recognize the beauty in it, eat it, nourish it and enrich your life as you take pride in growing vegetables in your front yard.
Planning Your Front Yard Vegetable Garden
Now, that you have decided this is definitely the year to start your front yard garden, it’s time to take action. Which, of course, should be preceded by some intelligent planning.
Because your garden will be on “display”, it should look as good as possible.
If you’re worried about this in any way, get ready to toss those fears and trepidation aside and just go for it. This garden is for you – not for them. Imagine it looking lush and full of healthy vegetables, then apply your growing set of gardening skills to make it happen.
But first, you must decide on a layout.
The easiest way to make a garden plan is to grab some colored pencils and paper as you head out to your front yard. Make a series of sketches about what should be planted and where, or simply wing it with graph paper and a little imagination.
You can also use digital garden planners to visualize the growing space that your front yard will allow. The best option is whatever works easiest for you.
Next, you need to decide how to grow your vegetables in the most efficient and showy way possible.
Using raised beds in your front yard vegetable garden
Raised beds are wonderful for several reasons:
- soil warms up faster at the beginning of the season
- it also stays warmer for longer at the end of the season – resulting in a longer growing period
- raised garden beds have fewer weeds
- the soil is not compacted from walking upon it
- which promotes better drainage
- you get to choose the quality of soil that it is filled with
- and as a bonus – raised beds can be built to be temporary
If you’re renting a house, or simply wish to try and see how gardening in your front yard goes, it makes for an excellent way to trial the process. At the end of the growing season, the frames can be removed and some new grass seed planted.
Another advantage is that even on slopes, raised beds can be utilized without soil running off. Plus they look nice too, when you choose the right materials.
Related reading: 14 Common Raised Bed Mistakes You Must Avoid
Or planting directly in the ground
Another way to go about planting your front yard garden is to sow seeds directly into the ground.
Without tilling your lawn, which can be a lengthy and back-breaking process, you can have great success with a no-dig garden. One that implements mulch, compost and organic matter, more than it does a shovel.
Not only will the extra mulch prevent weeds from growing, it will help keep your garden nice and tidy too, much to the delight of nearby homeowners.
What to Grow In Your Front Yard Vegetable Garden
Assuming you have a small front lawn to turn into a garden, it’s wise to stick with smaller varieties that don’t grow to extremes. You wouldn’t want your pumpkins or melons crawling onto the sidewalk.
For that reason, most vining plants may be out. That is, unless you are ready to trellis your squashes, which just so happens to be a great way to maximize space. It looks fantastic too!
If you stick with easy-to-grow fruits and vegetables, your gardening jobs will be less complicated, and more fruitful.
In your front yard vegetable garden, try growing:
- fast maturing tomato varieties
- perennial cabbage
- Swiss chard
- sunflowers and more!
At the end of the gardening season, be sure to clean up your front yard, so that it is clean and organized. Compost what needs to be composted and put away everything for next year.
In a more mild climate, you may even be able to utilize your front yard garden year-round. Try planting cool-weather crops and late-blooming flowers for attractive fall colors.
Quick Tips for a Successful Front Yard Vegetable Garden
Before diving head over heels into a project bigger than you, it’s best to know what you’re investing in.
A garden always takes more time, more energy, more sun, more water, more weeding, pretty much more of anything than you expect. Yet, in the end, it also provides you with more food.
In a way, your garden always gives back. Just make sure you have the resources and energy that it requires for the best harvests you can expect.
Finding enough time
Gardening takes time. No one can dispute that.
Shopping takes time too. Sometimes much longer than you would like. So, what about shopping in your front yard garden instead. Approach it this way and the time you spend growing, weeding, watering and harvesting will be well worth the short trip outdoors.
Start small, then grow big and ever bigger. Only growing as much as you have time for.
If you have chosen to go with raised beds, know that they have a tendency to drain faster – which is generally a good thing. However, it also means that they will need to be watered more.
To keep your crops happy and green, have an irrigation plan ready at hand for those times when the sun outshines the rain.
If your front yard garden is small enough, hand watering with a can is probably the best option.
A larger garden may require a sprinkler system, or more water-efficient soaker hoses.
Be ready to answer questions
As your garden gets growing, be prepared for unexpected visitors to stop by. Some might come with concerns, others with questions about how and why you’re growing food in your front yard.
Answer truthfully and honestly, with an aim to encourage them to do the same.
The more front yard gardens that the world can produce, the more people will take the act of growing food once again into our own hands. And then, we can start saving seeds too, and passing the knowledge to future generations.
Rules and Regulations Regarding Front Yard Vegetable Gardens
Naturally, there’s usually a disclaimer when dealing with ideas that are less than mainstream.
Common sense says to garden at your own risk. Though you might not want to end up in any trouble within your community or homeowners’ association.
Before planting, or investing too much energy into your front yard garden, be sure that you’re legally able to do so.
If you aren’t, petition for the right to grow your own front yard vegetable garden, being sure to list a handful of reasons why it’s so important.
Grow your garden, not only to impress your neighbors, but to support yourself and your family as you supplement your diet with homegrown, nutritious foods.
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