Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On front yard gardening.

A mother I know asked of some friends on an online forum, How stupid would it be / look to put a garden in the front yard?

The consensus among those that responded was, Not at all stupid.

Which got me to thinking....

My own front yard garden is a delight to me. And I hope it is to others. Honestly? I think it's downright lovely.

From a practical standpoint, I can make good use of sun in front, and save the fenced in area's bulk in back for the dog and boy during those times we need the border of a fence.

Now that my boy is a bit older (nearing four), he has a better understanding of parameters and a bit more impulse control, and can enjoy our deep front lawn with it's front shade, gravel drive and grassy expanse.

From a communitarian standpoint, it engages me and my family much more directly with our neighborhood. We live on a busy street in an urban neighborhood. There is a sidewalk on the other side of the road, on which many of our neighborhood's inhabitants run, walk, bike and travel from bus stop to home, and to the Piggly Wiggly or the BBQ shack or the cigarette and beer and bait store. Being out front playing and working and weeding and watering, we are a presence.

We say hello to passersby and give our little enclave a sense of the who and what dwells here. A couple weeks ago, as I mowed the lawn with my old timey reel mower, a trio of boys bounced a basketball down the sidewalk. After my son and I greeted them, they slowed to see if I needed or wanted a hand with the lawn.

I know, too, that there is a movement toward edible landscaping, though I'm not in a hip enough culture to be steeped in others doing the same, nor am I doing it on a large scale. Frankly, I'm none too hip my own self. More and more practical as I settle into who I am.

In any case, I am pleased to be more integrated into my neighborhood, and to making better use of the resources available to us. It is quite nice not to be shut up behind doors -- cocooning, as it was called in the 90s when front porch sitting had faded and I, at that time, lived in a vintage highrise on a busy road on Chicago's North Side. Then, as now, I made use of what I had at my disposal -- I camped on the rooftop, and sat on the bus bench to people watch and learn the patterns of the folks among whom I lived, waving and chatting and getting to know the lay of the land, as it were.

Tell me, what do YOU think of front yard gardening? An affront to your aesthetics or your sub-division's bylaws? Or stewardship in good practice, and homey greenthumb on parade?


  1. Have you ever seen the 70s British TV series, The Good Life? It's a comedy about a couple who homestead in the city and the reactions of their neighbors to gardening in the front yard, etc.

    Someone in my neighborhood has corn in his front yard. I don't mind, but I do wish he'd cover the black plastic with a little mulch first.

  2. Gardening in my front yard is how I got to know all my city neighbors. Back then I didn't put veggies out there because the front yard was shallow (20') so it was a dog-pee zone, but flowers galore grew in profusion in all that sun. But for sure I think anyone and everyone should garden where they can.

    I wouldn't worry about being so hip re: edible landscaping. It started as a landscaping business, wherein people paid this one group to rip out their public front yards and plant them with things they could eat. It doesn't mean the gardens thrived, nor does it mean these gardens were acts of love; they were simply a consumer item with a green spin. What you are doing is much more natural and much more relevant.

  3. I think front yard veggie gardens are awesome. I've always said that front yards are a GIGANTIC waste of space. We could feed the world with all of that space!


  4. Kristie, YOUR garden pics look awesome!

    El, no worries about anti-hipstering here, and I'm loving the garden explosion. Oh, it's fun. More and more, folks stop to look and talk...

    Meredith, haven't seen that show, but will check into it. Looks fun!