The Edible Garden: Flipping the Notion of the Front Lawn
For centuries, Americans have maintained a faithful relationship with the front lawn, that treasured strip of greenery that delineates the boundary line between the home and the street. As time progresses, however, the lawn has no longer become a symbol of status or wealth, but a symbol of cultural conformity; a way to assess whether or not an individual has achieved the “American Dream.” While a perfectly manicured lawn may have suggested a desire for future prosperity in the 1950’s, the cost, time, and chemical treatments required in the modern day seem wasteful. In a time when “green” is golden, why settle for the suburban norm? Try planting an edible front yard!
Yes, taboo as it may seem, planting fruits and vegetables in the front yard is a new gardening trend that is not only friendly to the environment, but friendly on the wallet. Fritz Haeg, author of The Edible Estate, has a proposal that is quite simple: trade in the mower and high-maintenance lawn for beautiful arrangements of flowers and organic produce that can be enjoyed both outdoors and in the
kitchen. In addition to reducing trips to the grocery store, edible gardens require less irrigation and upkeep than traditional lawns, which means more time socializing with family and friends, and less time completing daily landscaping tasks.
But what will my neighbors think? Over the years, our society has become accustomed to placing vegetables in the backyard, and flowers in the front yard. However, many species of fruits and vegetables can be both edible and ornamental, especially when juxtaposed with shrubbery and other edging elements, such as brick or stone. Sweet potato plants not only have large flowers that resemble popular perennials, but have beautiful vines that resemble ivy found in traditional gardens.
Aspiring gardeners that are not ready to replace their entire lawn with organic produce can experiment with vertical gardens, a new trend in the green building movement in which walls function as an alternative to topsoil. The growing popularity of vertical gardens have allowed the principles of Edible Estates to not only accommodate smaller residential lots, but commercial establishments as well; many high-end restaurants have begun to recognize the benefits of growing fresh herbs on-site by using vertical gardens as an artistic landscape element adjacent to outdoor dining rooms.
So what are you waiting for? Your front lawn is a blank canvas for cultivating a beautiful, diverse garden that is not only gives back to the environment, but to your wallet as well. And just think of the possibilities for public and commercial green spaces to start giving back by taking inspiration from the residential sector!