How to Hide Edibles in Your Front Yard

by Daisy on 05/08/2009

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Edible Landscaping, when you have a homeowners association, is all about distraction. When you look at the above picture, do you see my crops? Would you notice them if I hadn’t told you?

That’s what I’m talking about.

Behind my pansies, behind the fence, is fifty strawberry plants and five asparagus in a mulch bed made entirely from trash.

Hiding Food in the Front Yard

1. Have ridiculously showy beds
Whether in sun or shade, people notice color and flowers. If you glam up the surroundings, no one will ever see your squash and herbs. And if they do, they won’t care.

2. Choose ornamental-looking edibles
Corn is always corn. Tomato bushes are always tomato bushes. But, greens, some herbs, and bush beans can be interspersed in borders and look like they belong there. Squash and cucumbers and sweet potatoes make great annual ground cover. Strawberries make a great evergreen ground cover.

3. Get rid of a few inedibles
Maybe those extra dwarf nandinas can vacate and leave room for sage and kale? Plants are meant to be pretty, but they also are meant to feed us. And in the suburban environment where space is at a premium, switching inedibles for more delicious plants is a great way to increase our gardening space.

So, while you’re deciding what to put out in the coming weeks, make a few extra seedling pots to keep your daylilies company out front.

Ivory



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

James Robertson June 6, 2009 at 6:30 am

All good tips, but I say: show off your front-yard garden! Challenge people’s preconceptions about the front lawn! Take the battle right to the street! 🙂

We’ve planted our vege patch in our front garden, mostly because it’s the only spot with good sun. But it’s also part of our advocacy for people to grow stuff at home, even if it’s nothing more than lettuce in a pot on their porch.

What’s been amazing is the comments we get from passer-byers. Every 5-10mins that I’m out in the garden I get someone saying “nice garden!”. More and more I’m having lengthy discussions with people who’ve gone out of their way just to see how our garden is going.

And with a train station 6 doors up, these are people just coming or going from work, not just immediate locals. So I say: let’s grow our veges and be proud. 🙂

katlin March 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

My mother has been doing this for the last couple of years. She has incorporated corn with some lower bushes because the feathery tops look pretty and add height. She has also added spaghetti squash in just random places, again, because the visual texture changes the entire outlook. Heirloom tomatoes and purple asparagus near and around the arborvitas to add some color, she has taken the stance of using vegetables in her flower beds as ways to rebel against the “accepted ways” of planting a garden. Her herbs sit in pots that at one time were used only for the geraniums that she would get every summer. This started as a “Wouldn’t this look pretty here? Plus we can get stuff from it!” moment.

NWFLDeaconsWife August 8, 2012 at 11:44 am

I’m a gardening pessimist. That is to say, if I spend time, resources, and effort on it, it had better feed me. LOL But I like pretty, too. So I choose flowers that feed me, like roses that produce rose hips for my tea, my calendula are showy and useful, the marigolds discourage mosquitoes, and don’t dis my dandelions….they are great for salads! The point is to get familiar with the ‘other’ edibles that you don’t usually find in the grocery produce aisles. Things you thought were weeds could actually be food! Wild onions, dandelions, even clover…read ’em….and reap!

I learned from this article that not all traditional veggies should be relegated to the back yard! I love the idea of the strawberries. Since they like sandy soil they get showy here when they are in bloom…and since they like their rows hilled, it would be a lovely ‘edger’ to a flower garden.

Oh, and don’t forget that some flowers are great pollinator attractors, so some plants aren’t edible, but attract nature’s allies in the garden.

Thank you for a great article!

JR May 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I am embracing my “civil disobedience” and growing some food in the front yard this year. But in order to make it less obvious, I’m helping to conceal the raised beds with nasturtiums. I hope to add some much needed color to that spot and snack on the leaves and flowers – My two girls are pretty excited, too.

All in all, it may take a little longer for attitudes to change with four generations of the suburban dream being hammered into us that the perfect lawn is the pinnacle of suburban success. At some point, I hope that it shifts to a paradigm of having a balanced, beautiful lawn of edibles.

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