Garden in front yard

Front Yard Vegetable Garden

On your way home from work, stop and grab a salad. And hey, grab a bouquet of flowers, too. No need to go to the grocery store. Pick them up on your way in the front door. Pick them from your front yard.
Growing your own food is appealing. The sunniest part of your yard is the best place to grow vegetables. If that place happens to be your front yard, don’t let that stop you. Plants are beautiful. Why not choose edibles?
Vegetables, planted with the same principles you’d use for perennial flowers, are both attractive and productive.
“If you’re wanting an edible landscape in your front yard, plant smaller things in front. Plant taller longer-season veggies in back,” said Patrick Rodysill of Star Apple Edible Gardens in San Francisco.
Tomatoes are an example of a longer-season plant. When creating a border, think of the mechanics of maintaining an edible garden, he said.
“At the front of the border, you’ll be harvesting and replanting more frequently so your plants will be easier to access there,” said Rodysill, “Tuck in marigolds. They will attract beneficial insects. Add herbs or irises, and lavenders. Arrange it all as you would a perennial border.”
Use the front of the border to successively seed. Let’s take lettuce for example. If you plant patches of lettuce every couple of weeks, the lettuces will mature at different times and you’ll have a continual supply of lettuce.
“Radishes are such a great bang for the buck. They germinate in a day and are ready to harvest in a week,” said Rodysill.
Starting a front yard vegetable garden doesn’t have to mean a lot of digging. For beginning gardeners, Rodysill suggests starting small and using a raised bed. A good option is our 4′ by 4′ raised bed system.
“Initially, start very small,” he said, “Stick a tomato in one corner and a pepper in another. Because vining plants like cucumbers take up so much space, install a trellis and grow the cucumber vertically in another corner. In the last corner, you’ll have room for simple rows of lettuce, radish or beets. Add marigolds.”
A garden this size is easy to water by hand and maintain. But make sure of the mature size of the vegetables you plant in a small garden. Take time to draw a simple birds eye view of your front yard vegetable garden.
“Drawing a plan helps you create a sense of order,” said Rodysill, “Also, if you have a plan and hang onto it, you can see how it goes the first year, then note on the plan what you loved and what you didn’t like so you know how to do it different next time.”
So you have a plan and you’re starting small. But are you worried about reactions from your neighbors?
Rodysill said gardening in the front yard is a great way to get to know neighbors and educate kids.
“If you’re outside working in your garden, neighbors walk by and ask questions. It’s a great way to start conversations,” he said, “Gardening is also a great way to start conversations about nature with kids. Dig out a worm to show them. Plant borage and show kids how many bees and butterflies you attract.”
He tells the story of planning a front yard edible garden for a client in an historic Victorian district of a California town. The historic board and neighbors balked at his client’s hope for a front yard filled with food.
Rodysill’s client explained to the board that before World War 2, front yards were used for vegetable gardens and in fact, truer to Victorian ideals. His client won his case. Now, after neighbors have seen the appeal, many others in the town have added vegetable gardens to their front yards.
We all know the feeling. You’re bushed and hungry at the end of the day.
“If you come home wiped out after a long day, harvest a salad on your way in the door. Pick some lettuce, some mesclun and some mustard green. Pull up a carrot and an onion and you have a salad,” said Rodysill.
How convenient is that?

Local Laws Ban Front Yard Food Gardens in Cities Across the US

Restrictions require residents to rip up vegetables or face fines, jail time Baylen Linnekin November 16, 2016

If sustainability starts at home, then so too do rules that determine just how sustainable you can be in your home life. Farmers can rely on their own crops and livestock for food, compost, clothing, and a host of other solutions. Gardens can be a great place for homeowners to help feed a family and use composted waste. Even other less obvious homebased pursuits can feed into sustainability efforts.

photo by Carol NorquistGrowing food in home gardens has exploded in popularity in recent years, but gardeners around the US face a dizzying number of bewildering restrictions.

For example, brewing beer — whether from ingredients grown at home or obtained at a farm or store — can help reduce packaging and transport costs, help out local farmers keen to receive spent grains, and give homebrewers the ultimate control over what they’re drinking. The explosion of homebrewing in America in recent decades is a great example of how federal rules can affect your home. Before 1978, it was illegal for Americans to brew beer at home. That year, President Jimmy Carter signed into law a bill that allowed Americans to make beer (and wine) at home, so long as they didn’t sell it. In addition to letting Americans brew beer at home for the first time since Prohibition, the law is credited with helping to set in motion the explosion of craft brewing in this country, as many of yesterday’s homebrewers went on to become today’s commercial craft brewers. Although the ban on homebrewing is one of the best known examples of a prohibition on producing one’s own food at home, many arguably more sustainable food practices — ones far more mundane than brewing beer — are banned at home by a tangled web of local rules.

Growing food in home gardens is among the easiest, most popular, and most personal ways to promote and consume sustainable food. It’s also a practice that’s exploded in popularity in recent years. A 2009 report by the National Gardening Association found that nearly one third of American households raises some combination of fruits and vegetables at home. A 2014 report by the same group found that the number of edible gardens had grown since the earlier report by 17 percent. A 2012 report by the New York Times noted that home food gardens are a byproduct of the “growing interest in sustainability.”

Despite the mushrooming popularity of raising food at home, gardeners around the country have faced a dizzying number of bewildering restrictions in recent years. “Jason Helvenston was at work on his second crop, spreading compost to fertilize the carrots, bok choy, kale and dozens of other vegetables he grows organically on his property in Orlando, Fla., when the trouble began,” reads the lede of that same New York Times article, which focuses on municipal battles over home gardens. A neighbor’s landlord had complained that Helvenston’s neat little garden made his house look “like a farm.” Helvenston, a sustainability consultant, squared off against city officials intent on forcing him to rip up the garden in his front yard. The city backed down in 2013, and Helvenston was able to keep his garden. But others haven’t been so lucky.

In some cases, local governments have gone so far as to rip food bearing plants from the yards of residents. Denise Morrison of Tulsa, Oklahoma is one such victim. In 2012, Tulsa code enforcement officers walked into Morrison’s front yard without her permission and uprooted her edible garden. Morrison, who was unemployed at the time, was using the foods she grew to sustain herself during a difficult period. Code officers, on the other hand, were enforcing a city ordinance that said plants cannot be higher than twelve inches “unless they’re used for human consumption.” Morrison’s garden contained “lemon, stevia, garlic chives, grapes, strawberries, apple mint, spearmint, peppermint,” fruit trees, and other foods that would have been used for her consumption had the code enforcers not cut some down and ripped others right out of the ground. The city claimed Morrison’s “yard did not contain any organic garden, but had large amounts of untended, dead and decaying vegetation; unhealthy trees; dead tree limbs; and rotting tires.” Morrison — who had taken photos of her edible garden and shared them with the city — fought back, filing a civil rights lawsuit against the city. Amazingly, two successive federal courts dismissed her lawsuit. They determined Tulsa officials had provided Morrison with adequate notice before taking action.

Although Morrison’s case may seem extreme, others have even faced jail time for nothing more than growing food in their own yard. In 2011, an Oak Park, Michigan, woman was threatened with more than three months in jail for keeping a beautiful, well-manicured, edible garden in her front yard. City officials charged Julie Bass with a misdemeanor, arguing that Bass’s basil, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and other edible produce were not “suitable live plant material.” The city has its own definition of what “suitable” means. “If you look at the dictionary, suitable means common,” city planner Kevin Rulkowski told local station WXYZ. Rulkowski is wrong not just about Bass’s garden but about the meaning of the word “suitable.” It means — among other terms that do not include the word “common” — “similar,” “matching,” “adapted to a use or purpose,” or “proper,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. In fact, “common” isn’t even a synonym for “suitable.” For these reasons, perhaps, the city eventually dropped the charges against Bass.

Other examples of cities and towns cracking down on residents’ vegetable gardens are less extreme, if no less ridiculous and maddening in nature. In 2012, for example, Newton, Massachusetts officials ordered a town resident to remove his hanging tomato garden from his front yard. Officials said the hanging garden violated a city ordinance prohibiting the construction of “swing sets, swimming pools, or sheds” in a front yard. Newton resident Eli Katzoff was forced to move his plants to the grounds of Andover Newton Theological School, a nearby seminary. The seminary was happy to take in the tomatoes, but its leader was perplexed by the town’s behavior. “Who can be against tomatoes?” wondered then-seminary president Nick Carter.

Tomatoes — a fruit — are probably fine in Miami Shores, Florida. But vegetables are not. The city code was amended to prohibit growing vegetables in a front yard in 2013. Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll had been raising vegetables in their front yard in the city for more than fifteen years. The couple had a host of vegetables growing there — including arugula, cabbage, kale, and onions — when the city changed the code. Days later, a city code enforcement officer showed up at their home and ordered them to rip up their garden or face fines of $50 per day. “I politely asked the Village to leave me in peace and let me do my gardening,” Rickets told her local CBS affiliate, “but they refused to do that.” The couple, devastated, was forced to uproot the garden. “When our garden was in full production, we had no need to shop for produce,” Rickets told the station. “At least 80 percent of our meals were harvested fresh from our garden. This law crushes our freedom to grow our own healthy food. No one should have to expend time and energy dealing with such nonsense.” The couple fought back, suing the city in 2013.

Prohibitions on gardens such as those in Orlando, Tulsa, Newton, Miami Shores, and elsewhere arise largely out of zoning regulations. Zoning, supporters contend, is intended to prevent conflicts and nuisances from arising. There’s probably some truth to that argument. But sometimes, as in the case of the prohibitions on edible gardens detailed in this chapter, zoning itself becomes the nuisance and the source of conflict. In Orlando, for example, where Jason Helvenston raised his garden, the city admitted its zoning rules were too vague to charge Helvenston with violating the city code. But the specifics the city proposed as a fix to that code — including a rule that would confine annual crops to no more than 25 percent of a front yard — simply replaced untenable vagueness with indefensible arbitrariness. “We think 25 percent is more than sufficient to provide for kitchen gardening in the front-yard area,” chief city planner Jason Burton said at a contentious hearing attended by what the Orlando Sentinel characterized as “dozens of garden lovers.”

In the end, the real purpose of zoning is to protect property values. Because many owners and buyers prefer the look of a manicured lawn to that of an edible garden — just like USDA rules prefer the look of a perfectly symmetrical tomato to that of an “ugly” one — zoning rules tend to reflect those wishes. As the examples in this chapter suggest, change to those rules has been slow to come. But change is coming. In 2007, Sacramento, California, revised its zoning code to eliminate a ban on front-yard gardens. In nearby Berkeley, the Ecology Center reported in 2010, city government laid plans to encourage residents to raise edible gardens. That same year, Seattle lawmakers eased restrictions on a host of home-based agricultural practices. But in cities such as Miami Shores, where Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll have to deal with the “nonsense” underlying the city’s ban, a court will decide the matter.

The alternative typically proffered by opponents of front-yard edible gardens — limiting your garden to your backyard only — ignores two very real issues. First, backyards can be imperfect — or even nonexistent. Those that do exist may be tiny, rocky, wooded, or otherwise unsuitable for gardening. Some people don’t get enough sun in their backyards to grow fruits and vegetables, which require ample light to flourish. That was the problem faced by Helvenston and by Ricketts and Carroll. Second, lawns — the conventional choice for yard vegetation — typically use more water than do edible gardens. Estimates of water savings vary, but most sources agree that fruit and vegetable gardens use less water than would a lawn in a comparable space. Those who want to live more sustainably often choose to grow some of their own food and find ways both to reduce their reliance on commercially bought food and lower their water use. Swapping out a lawn for an edible garden can help achieve both goals.

After 6-Year Battle, Florida Couple Wins The Right To Plant Veggies In Front Yard

Homeowners Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts held a ceremonial planting of vegetables in their garden on Monday. The Village of Miami Shores had prohibited front-yard gardens, but the Florida Legislature passed a law that assures such gardens’ legality. Wilfredo Lee/AP hide caption

toggle caption Wilfredo Lee/AP

Homeowners Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts held a ceremonial planting of vegetables in their garden on Monday. The Village of Miami Shores had prohibited front-yard gardens, but the Florida Legislature passed a law that assures such gardens’ legality.

Wilfredo Lee/AP

Okra. Bell peppers. Cherry tomatoes. Jalapeños and squash.

Those are some of the vegetables that Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll, planted in front of their home in Miami Shores, Fla., on Monday.

That’s the day a Florida law went into effect that nullifies local bans on vegetable gardens at residential properties. It was one of those ordinances that had forced the couple to uproot a garden that Ricketts had tended for 17 years.

Ricketts had her vegetable garden in front of her home because that’s where the sun is, as NPR’s Greg Allen reported in 2013: “er house faces south and her backyard is mostly in the shade. A retired architect, originally from Jamaica, Ricketts says she gardens for the food and for the peace it brings her.”

“This is a peach tree that I put in, and around it, I had kale, and in between the kales, I had some Chinese cabbage,” Ricketts said then. “And I also had Swiss chard, yellow Swiss chard.”

But then a zoning ordinance was tightened to forbid vegetables in the front yard on the grounds that they were unsightly. A daily $50 fine went into effect, so Ricketts pulled up her garden.

And she lawyered up. She reached out to Institute for Justice, a national advocacy group that fights for property rights, among other issues.

It took six years, but they won. An appeals court had ruled against Ricketts, but the Florida Legislature passed a bill protecting vegetable gardens, and last week Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law.

“After nearly six years of fighting … I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard,” Ricketts said in a statement. “I’m grateful to the Legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property.”

She lamented that the fight even had to happen. “We had a beautiful, nutritious garden for many years before the Village went out of its way to ban it and then threatened us with ruinous fines,” she said.

“Gardening is wonderful,” Ricketts told the Miami Herald on Monday. “I feel victory. … I have no words.”

Transform your side yard into a Side Yard Vegetable Garden and turn wasted space into a lush, green produce producing area!

This post brought to you by Miracle-Gro. All opinions are 100% mine.

Happy Earth Day!

Today I want to talk gardening. I love my garden. I get it from my mom and dad, both of whom were expert gardeners. I am nowhere near as accomplished as they are but I do love to experiment with the small space that I have.

I get an absolute thrill harvesting fruits and vegetables from our garden and I love sharing that experience with the boys. Reece and Bryce are growing up learning to garden and enjoy watching seedlings sprout from the ground. They anxiously await picking strawberries, cherries, plums and so much more each year.

I am a firm believer that no space is too small for a garden. My little sister lives in an apartment in Virginia and was able to successfully grow cantaloupe from a pot. You can do it too 🙂

I grew up on acres. I now live on a very small lot where it’s super important to utilize every square inch of space. A few months ago my husband and I were outside doing some cleanup when we came upon this…

Our ugly side yard. It had turned into a weed-producing wasteland where all sorts of junk was dumped. Not pretty. We decided to build planters along the side for additional gardening space, much like the one shown below. The dimensions are different, of course, but we used the exact some method and it worked beautifully.

We added three planters along the side yard and fit them in between the recessed area of fencing. I added pots in between the planters because I am all about using every bit of available space. No waste! The pots have tomato plants and flowers so they are both pretty and functional.

After the planters were built and installed, we filled them with soil and planted away. My favorite planter is my lettuce and herb garden. I only have a few more weeks before lettuce season is over and these will be replaced with potato plants. My boys LOVE digging for potatoes 🙂

Every day for lunch I come out here and grab a bunch…

No salad tastes as good as the one you grow in your own garden. Bryce, my salad-loving child, goes into the garden each day after school and grabs a handful of lettuce for a snack.

I am totally not kidding.

The green beans are happily climbing the trellis and the chives are just starting to pop up.

I love our side garden now. I especially love that we turned it from a waste of space into this! I love the additional gardening space and it is an absolute pleasure walking through each day and checking on the progress of our plants!

As someone who is passionate about gardening, I am so excited to be working with Miracle-Gro this Saturday, April 26th, sharing gardening tips at my local Ace Hardware. For those of you in the Sacramento area, I will be at 3555 El Camino Ave., Sacramento. I’d LOVE to see you there!

I will be tweeting and instagramming the day of the event so make sure to follow along and see what great gardening tips are being shared!

I’d love to know what small-space gardening solutions or tips you might have to share! Remember – no space is too small!

Connect with me!

Linking up at some of these parties.

My Urban Garden Oasis

Small Space Gardening–Utilize Your Sideyard

It makes me crazy to hear people say they would really like to have a vegetable garden, but they just don’t have enough room. If you have a yard, you have room. And if you live in zone 5, now in mid-May is the time to be planting your tomatoes, beans, melons, peppers, cucumbers, squash, beets and so on.

(Please note that the photos in this post have been taken during the first week of May, and the plants are just getting started. I will have progression photos in future posts as they grow.)

For me, gardening is a great way to have fresh, chemical-free vegetables at my fingertips. It also eliminates my need for a psychiatrist. (Mostly.) Gardening is my therapy.

And since I need my therapy I went to great lengths to make a space for my garden. I have a tiny, sloped back yard with underground utility lines running all through it. Since a garden is a must-have for me, the presence of those nasty utility lines forced me into a creative frenzy.

Since I couldn’t dig down, I built up the ground using a small retaining wall around the perimeter of the low side of the yard. I couldn’t change the size of my yard, but I did make it plantable by bringing in lots of soil to get rid of the slope and by burying the utility lines deep enough that I could plant a garden over the top of them. The retaining wall added about 8 inches of depth to the lowest areas of my yard.

Basically, I turned my entire back yard into a no-mow raised bed, so to speak. I tore out every last blade of grass, and started fresh with new landscaping for privacy, and an area for a vegetable garden. It’s not like a swing set or a swimming pool’s gonna fit back there, after all. Not unless they’re Barbie-doll-sized.

So if you have this same problem with utility lines on your property, raised beds are always an option. But if you really don’t want to sacrifice any of your back yard for a garden, why not consider your side yard? I chose to use my side yard in addition to my plot, because my garden plot isn’t big enough for all the fruit and vegetables I want to grow. (The crazy downspout running under my trellis is my redneck irrigation system. It empties onto a birch tree in my yard.)

Not all side yards are conducive to growing a vegetable garden because of lack of sun hours, especially if your neighbor’s house sits close to yours. But if yours gets six to eight hours of sun, you have a fantastic spot for your favorite veggies. I happen to have a corner lot with no neighbors on the south side of my home, so I don’t have another house blocking the sun. It’s ideal for gardening.

I hesitated at first to try this because I don’t have a water source near my side yard to keep my plants watered. Making numerous trips with watering cans doesn’t appeal to me, nor does dragging a hose all the way around my house. Well I found a solution for that too!

I saw these ever-so-nifty splitters at Wally World the other day. I hooked up a new garden hose to it that my sweet son, Ross, got me for Mother’s Day. I ran it around to the side of my house, and I keep it tucked into a corner so it’s right where I need it, and it’s ready to go. I requested this particular hose because it’s brown/gray in color and blends in with my mulch. So now I can have my regular hose hooked up for my back yard watering, and can also have a hose hooked up for my side yard. Here’s my splitter.

And speaking of garden hoses, if you ever have a stubborn hose nozzle that you can’t seem to remove from your hose, see my solution here.

You might be thinking, well, I have a side yard, and I’d love to use it for a vegetable garden, but I have bushes growing there. Well…rip ’em out, for goodness sakes! Ok, so maybe that sounded a bit harsh. Maybe you could relocate your bushes to another area. I don’t like tearing out plants either, and I must confess, the ones I dug up were on their way to bush heaven so I didn’t feel too guilty. And I only tore out two so as not to alarm the neighbors, but another one will probably be taken out next year if my side yard veggie garden does well this year. You also might be thinking there’s not enough room to grow anything in a side yard. Watch and learn.

If you really can’t bring yourself to tear out a few bushes, you may not have to if you have the right type of bushes growing in your side yard–especially if you have southern exposure. Last year, I tried to plant a few veggies in front of, and partially underneath a burning bush, but didn’t want to disturb the root system, and kill the bush. Since Burning Bushes’ roots are very shallow, pretty much any digging was out of the question.

I tried to plant some baby watermelon and some cantaloupe, both from seed, and neither grew well because I couldn’t really dig down to prep the soil properly. (Also, having a drought last summer made gardening pretty hellish.) I tried to loosen a little dirt, but it made me cringe to hear the snapping and popping of my poor bush’s roots. Like nails on a blackboard, I’m telling ya.

My cataclysmic solution this year to be able to plant in that space is to use a small raised bed placed underneath the bush. A very talented, dear friend built one for me. It’s perfect for plants that don’t have a deep root system. A burning bush is ideal to put a box underneath because the bush grows from a single trunk, and is somewhat woody on the bottom (not many leaves), and therefore doesn’t produce a lot of shade.

Planted here are lettuce, onion sets and Red Express cabbage. The seedlings have germinated for the cabbage, but they’re too small to see in this photo. I’m hoping they’ll all do well. I bought a bag or two of good garden soil for this box so at least my plants will get off to a good start. Incidentally, this box only measures 2′ by 4′.

In this area of my side yard which measures 4′ by 8′, I’ve planted peas, radishes, cucumbers, sunflowers and broccoli. The radishes and broccoli will be harvested and replaced with pumpkins later on, and the cucumbers will grow behind the peas up onto the trellis where they can reach into the sun. Unfortunately, I just recently planted the cucumbers and sunflowers, so they aren’t showing in this photo yet.

This is the same area as the last photo, but before my seeds were planted. This shows the arched wire trellis in front of the white fence that I’m hoping to grow cucumbers on.

Next is my herb garden where I have oregano, basil, dill (too small to see at the moment), two types of parsley and more pickling cucumbers (not germinated yet), which I’m hoping to train up a shepherd’s hook that I’m currently not using for my birdfeeders. This area measures 4′ by 4′.

In the next photo, we have a Better Boy tomato plant and cauliflower. The cauliflower will be harvested early in the season allowing enough room for the tomato plant to spread out and take over the area. If space allows, I’ll plant some mini pumpkins after the cauliflower is gone. This area is 4′ by 4′.

Pole green beans are planted in this raised bed that measures 3′ by 4′. They’ll grow up onto my handy dandy home-made trellis (see previous post for construction). I just planted the seeds this week so they aren’t up yet. To the right of the box, I planted garlic cloves that I’ve just about given up on. I’ve been waiting patiently for them to come bursting through the soil. No bursting to date.

I’ve planted more pickling cucumbers to grow up on these guide wires. Please note if you have a fence and want veggies, by all means, make use of your fence! All kinds of things will grow up these wires—green beans, cucumbers, peas, baby watermelon, etc… There are also many beautiful flowering vines that would find this a happy place to live. It only requires a few inches of soil on the ground to plant in. For a tutorial on how to construct the guide wire trellis, refer to my post, “How to Grow Veggies on a Privacy Fence“.

So in this small side yard, if all goes as planned, I’ll have (big breath…) cucumbers, broccoli, radishes, peas, sunflowers, lettuce, cabbage, onions, oregano, basil, dill, parsley, pumpkins, garlic (hopefully), cauliflower, tomatoes and green beans. Whew! Will I reap enough to feed my family and 40 of my closest friends? No. But I’ll have enough for my family, maybe a little extra to can and probably some overflow for some very lucky neighbors who don’t really want to rip out their bushes in order to have a garden. (They just run to Jewel/Osco. What fun is that?)

Please know that there’s also no reason why vegetables can’t be grown right in with your landscaping and flower beds. Here I’ve incorporated a tomato, green peppers and watermelon right in my front flower bed. They’ll blend in nicely as all the flowers surrounding them begin to grow.

Strawberry plants are another good one to plant in with your landscaping. They’re beautiful plants that make a nice border, and they look great all summer. Here I’ve incorporated some strawberry plants (the plants with the white blossoms in front) into a couple different “non-garden” areas. They look like they belong here!

Here’s another small bed that measures only 4′ by 9′ where I started an asparagus patch this year. You’ll have to look with an eagle eye to see the asparagus since it’s very skinny—only being a year old and all. I planted the asparagus in with more strawberries. Maybe if they co-mingle, I’ll end up with some asparaberries or strawaragus! (I couldn’t help myself.) Both the strawberries and the asparagus are perennials, and will come up every year on their own.

Finally, here’s a glimpse of my back yard veggie garden. Not a lot of action here yet. But just wait!

I have planted raspberries, green beans, spaghetti squash, zucchini, cilantro (my all-time favorite herb) radishes, beets, bok choy, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, green peppers, carrots and onions in my main garden plot. The planting area in the back is 8′ by 4′. The front area where the dividers are measures 4′ by 7′.

I also have in pots, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, roma window box tomatoes, spinach, cabbage, onions, lettuce and radishes (see prior post for info on potted veggies).

So if you think you don’t have room for a garden, remember what I’ve grown in these small spaces, and think again. You may want to re-evaluate your yard’s potential. Look at it from a different perspective, and use your imagination. If you really want fresh vegetables for you and your family, chances are, you can find a way just like I did. Or I suppose you could just go to Jewel/Osco.

If you would like to see how some of these areas looked at the end of the summer, please refer to the second half of this post entitled, “Small Space Gardening–End of Summer Photos“.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, painting and home improvements on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at

Raised Garden Beds

Design ideas for raised vegetable gardens Swipe to view slides

  • Four raised beds measuring 3 feet across will provide a great deal of vegetables. Shades of Green Landscape Architecture in Sausalito, CA
  • These raised beds made of weathered steel make good use of a side yard. Huettl Landscape Architecture in Walnut Creek, CA
  • Edibles and flowers are thriving in these raised planter beds built of wood. Christensen Landscape Services in Northford, CT
  • Supports can be used to support vegetables growing in raised beds. Landscaping Network in Calimesa, CA
  • A raised bed garden constructed of industrial steel pipes. Z Freedman Landscape Design in Venice, CA

Benefits of raised garden beds:

  • Excellent drainage
  • Easy access
  • Complete control over soil quality
  • Low-maintenance
  • High productivity
  • Easier to defend crops against pests

What is a raised bed?

A raised bed is great for growing vegetables, herbs or even flowers for cutting. Raised garden beds are elevated above ground level which makes it easier to control growing conditions and access your plants.

What are the benefits of a raised bed?

Are you sore from constantly bending over to tend your garden? Do gophers eat your vegetable crop before you even get the chance to dream up a recipe? Do you struggle to grow thriving tomatoes because of nutrient lacking soil?

If you answered yes to any of these questions a raised bed garden may be the solution for you. Gardening in raised beds can significantly lessen, or remove altogether, the challenges of a traditional vegetable garden. Stephen Orr, author of Tomorrow’s Garden, states that the work of building raised beds will be rewarded with a superior harvest and minimal weeding. The many benefits of raised beds make them an attractive option for experienced and inexperienced gardeners alike.

Where should a raised garden bed be built?

A raised bed can be placed in your front yard, backyard or side yard. If you plan to grow edibles the location of the bed should receive a generous amount of sunlight. Experts recommend a north-south orientation for the optimum light conditions. Many homeowners prefer to locate their raised beds near the kitchen so that they only have to walk a few steps out the door to gather fresh herbs and veggies.

Hear landscape architect, Ive Haugeland, explain the most important considerations for raised bed placement.

How big should a raised bed be?

When determining the size of a raised bed you should consider your available space, desired yield and accessibility. Generally, 4 feet is the maximum width for a raised bed that can be accessed from all sides. If you plan to place the bed against a wall or fence, limit the width to 3 feet or less. A good rule of thumb is to make sure one can comfortably reach everything growing in the bed.

  • Pro Tip: “It takes an area of about 3 by 3 feet to raise enough carrots to feed a family of four year-round.” Scott Cohen, The Green Scene

Raised bed dimensions:

  • 3-4 feet wide
  • 12-18 inches tall
  • Popular dimensions: 3′ x 3′, 4′ x 6′, 4′ x 8′

An 18 inch height works well if you plan to cap the edges of the bed to serve as seating. Otherwise, 12 inches is a sufficient height for the walls of the bed. Keep in mind that the deeper the bed is the more control you will have over soil quality and the easier it will be to tend your vegetables.

Most people opt for square or rectangular beds, but if you want a circular design the 3-4 foot width still applies. If you make the diameter more than 4 feet, you will not be able to reach the center of the bed.

What materials can be used to build a raised bed?

On average, a professionally-installed sod lawn costs about $3.50 per square foot, with an additional $2 per square foot for the sprinkler system.

  • Wood – redwood or cedar
  • Metal – steel or aluminum
  • Stone
  • Brick
  • Masonry block
  • Repurposed items – stock tank, broken concrete, tree boxes

When selecting a material to build your raised garden beds, the most important consideration is outdoor durability. Additionally, the materials used for a raised bed should not contain hazardous chemicals that could affect your plants. Otherwise it is up to your tastes and budget to determine what material is best.

Watch a video showing raised beds being built out of masonry block.

What is the best way to water a raised bed?The most popular way to water a raised bed is to install an automatic drip irrigation or bubbler system. Drip irrigation saves water, improves growth and discourages weeds by slowly delivering water directly where it is needed over a long period of time.

Watch a video highlighting a raised bed vegetable garden equipped with a bubbler irrigation system.

Another, less permanent option, is to use a soaker hose to water your raised beds. Simply attach the hose to a spigot and turn on the water, the hose will seep water along its entire length.

FL Senate gives right to grow veggies in the front yard a green thumbs up | Miami Herald


The Florida Senate Thursday affirmed the right of green thumbs statewide to grow vegetable gardens in their front yards.

The 40-member Senate vote was 35-5.

Sen. Rob Bradley’s SB 82 prohibits a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties, voiding any current regulations regarding the produce patches.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island Steve Cannon AP

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Local governments, however, can still adopt a local ordinance or regulation that doesn’t specifically target vegetable gardens, like regulating water during drought conditions, limiting fertilizer use or controlling invasive species.

Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, filed a similar bill that passed during last year’s session, but the clock ran out and a House version was never filed. Lucky for garden enthusiasts, Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, has filed the House version (HB 145), which is identical in language. Her bill has passed through two of its committee stops, and has yet to be scheduled for a third.

The vegetable garden proposal is rooted in a legal dispute about an ordinance in Miami Shores that banned the gardens from being planted in front yards. Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, who ate from their vegetable garden for 17 years, sued the village. In November 2017, an appeals court upheld a ruling that the couple does not have a constitutional right to grow vegetables in their front yard. They appealed the ruling to the Florida Supreme Court, which declined to grant review.

Ricketts and Carroll faced $50 in daily fines after the village amended its ordinance in 2013. They had to dig up their garden – which can’t grow in their backyard because of a lack of sun.

Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts in their front yard in Miami Shores on Dec. 13, 2017. The couple had to dig up their vegetable garden in their front yard, which they had for 17 years, after the Village of Miami Shores ruled their edible plants were not allowed to grow there. The couple took their case to the Florida Supreme Court. Florida Senate SB 1776, filed on Jan. 5, 2018, argues that vegetable gardens at private homes are good for the state. AL DIAZ [email protected]

“What we’ve seen over the last several years is a movement to locally source food to have food be more organic and be more natural and not have to be subject to so many preserves and chemicals so that it travels across the country,” Bradley said during the bill’s second reading last week. “Instead, it can be in your backyard to be eaten.”

The bill only preempts local government rules, not rules or gardening restrictions set by homeowners associations or other groups.

Opponents to the bill say it imposes upon home rule. The League of Cities, for example, maintains that the Legislature should respect local government’s authority to make decisions on ordinances for their communities.

Sen. Bobby Powell, a Riviera Beach Democrat who voted no on the bill, said it is too far-reaching.

“It allows them to grow not only vegetables, but a plot of land used for the growing of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers,” he said. “I think the exemption of this to restrain the development codes for every municipality on our behalf is an overreach.”

Bradley said he understands the importance of careful preemption and thinks “a standard was met in this case.”

“The world is changing when it comes to food. There’s a big interest when it comes to locally sourced food or organic products,” he said. “It is our role, our duty to review decisions that are made in the courts that uphold local government actions that violate property rights in the State of Florida … When you own a piece of property, you should be able to grow food on that property for your family’s consumption.”

Ari Bargil, the attorney who represented the Miami Shores family, said he’s glad the state is taking the issue seriously and hopes to get a similar reaction from the House.

“I applaud the Senate for its work to quickly pass this meaningful reform, and I look forward to the day where no Floridian would worry about crippling fines for the offense of growing cabbage,” he said.

Samantha J. Gross is a politics and policy reporter for the Miami Herald. Before she moved to the Sunshine State, she covered breaking news at the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News.

Lawns are in retreat. Is suburbia ready for the front-yard veggie garden?

By Adrian Higgins Adrian Higgins Gardening columnist Columnist September 11, 2019

On the back of Susan Eisendrath’s little SUV, a bumper sticker reads: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

You need only go a few feet — to her curbside front yard — to see Gandhi’s aphorism brought to life. What was once a typical grass lawn under the shadow of a big old silver maple is now an assortment of raised growing beds, mulched paths and fruiting vines attached to various structures. A vestige of grass remains, but the veggie beds are interspersed with sunflowers, monarda, butterfly weed and a few other blooms for the pollinators and birds. In one corner, a beehive rises like a lighthouse. Eisendrath and her husband, Joe Libertelli, call this their “farmette.”

Sandwiched between their home in the Manor Woods neighborhood of Rockville, Md., and the circle at the end of a cul-de-sac, the yard is enclosed by a tall fence. The change they want doesn’t include feeding the deer — hence the fence — but it does extend to challenging the long-held suburban ideal of a front yard given over to the conforming lawn.

Lawns are in retreat as gardeners want more space for treasured plants, for rain gardens, for pollinator gardens and even as a place to tuck herbs and other culinary plants in with the ornamentals. Is suburbia ready for a full-blown upfront veggie garden, in all its late-summer raggedness? Eisendrath knows she is ready, and the planet is ready.

Rejecting the lawn and growing your own food organically is a practical if demanding way of reducing your carbon footprint. “I think there’s going to be more acceptability as people are responding to the challenge of climate change,” she says. “And the fresh food movement has become much more prominent.”

Don English’s beehive on the edge of the front garden yielded about 40 pounds of honey this summer, now bottled or on its way to becoming that favorite medieval libation, mead. (Adrian Higgins/The Washington Post)

The couple is not under the strictures of a homeowners association, though the turn to self-sufficiency, now in its 11th year, did ruffle some feathers. “We have had people call the county on us early on,” she said. The log bed edging has gone; the wood chip piles, too, and the fence has been fixed up a bit. “There are certain county codes we were made aware of in relatively gentle ways,” she said. “We have learned the system.”

When I visited recently, the corn was high, the tomato vines hulking and fruitful, and the amaranth — weedy if left to seed — ready for harvesting. “It has very tasty leaves,” said Eisendrath, 60.

The garden is shaped by the adornments gardeners use to protect their hard-won crops. Black netting sheaths the broad grapevine at the front of the house, forming a barrier between the clusters of developing fruit and avian raiders. CDs dangle high in the air, twisting in the breeze, to scare off the birds.

On an earlier visit, Libertelli, 62, lifted a tarp to show me logs seeded with mushroom spores (he also forages for mushrooms), and a month before, the couple gathered a garlic harvest — 1,500 bulbs. Some will be returned to the land as seed cloves next month, while the fall crop of peas and brassicas takes shape and the sweet potatoes plump up for harvest.

Libertelli concedes that the yard looks “shaggy” but says that “to grow something from seed and turn it into food strikes me as magical.”

Wendy Nevett Bazil gives a cooking demonstration during an open house at the farmette. (Susan Eisendrath)

Joining them in the garden this year are their friends Don and Ann English, who live about half a mile away. Don is a beekeeper with a hive on the edge of the front garden that yielded about 40 pounds of honey this summer, now bottled or on its way to becoming that favorite medieval libation, mead.

For Eisendrath, the idea that individuals can work to change the world is not some slogan but a way of being. She first gardened when she was in the Peace Corps in Tanzania. The couple lived on Capitol Hill (with a garden in the front yard of their rowhouse) before decamping to suburbia. They first lived in the house next door but sold it to acquaintances because the current home offered a sunnier location from which to expand their agricultural empire. (The rear yard sweeps down to the adjoining Rock Creek Regional Park and is dark and unsuitable for vegetable gardening.)

Besides the grapevine, a hopvine clambers up a pole, from which Don has harvested and dried the blooms to flavor his mead and home-brewed beer.

The entrance to the house is defined by an arched tunnel supporting kiwi vines, cardinal flowers and a hardy passionflower. Eisendrath reaches up to hold a green orb. “This is my pride and joy,” she said. “My single passion fruit.”

The fuel for the garden is a supply line of compost in various stages of preparation until, finished and soil-like, it is dug into the growing beds.

It’s almost impossible for the home gardener to address all of one’s food needs, even in such an intensive garden, and the harvests ebb and flow between a few spring peas and bushels of zucchini and peppers, not to mention the garlic bulbs. But Don English reckons for greens, the garden can at times provide up to 60 percent of his requirements.

Much of the garlic harvest goes into flavored oils and sauces. I recommend the green grape chutney, infused with fennel, chile, honey, ginger and fenugreek.

Don English, reflecting on their friends’ farmette, said: “Most people around here will have a few tomato plants and herbs, but for Joe and Susan, this garden takes a vast amount of their time, not only growing it, but processing it. I just don’t know many people who have done that.”

Eisendrath also uses the garden as a gathering spot for other Master Gardeners and fellow members of the Montgomery County Food Council, a group established to address issues of access to locally grown food. On a recent open house at the farmette, cooking instructor Wendy Nevett Bazil gave a demonstration using its produce.

Ann English, a landscape architect, says as the fertilizer- and pesticide-dependent lawn becomes increasingly unsustainable as the dominant landscape element, “it’s really important that some new templates are put forward” that will allow homeowners to find different expressions of the domestic yard, including vegetable gardens.

“There has to be a marriage that hasn’t happened yet, in how to support the world, feed critters and pollinators, and then the soul, which is the aesthetic piece,” she said. “We are in this big transition.”

She said if she owned the property, she might have made it more decorative, but “I think it’s a bodacious demonstration.”

The corn is an heirloom popping variety named Glass Gem, though next year the Englishes are thinking of switching to sweet corn. That and other logistics “will be discussed over the winter with Joe and Susan,” Don English said.

Over a glass of mead? The answer came after a long pause. “I wouldn’t put it in the singular.”

@adrian_higgins on Twitter

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to plant front-yard edibles.

Edible gardens are traditionally backyard affairs. To some people, vegetables don’t have the elegance of flowers and shrubs. Well, to each their own. We think produce is beautiful and we love making our front yards as productive as they are pretty.

Reason to Grow Edibles in Your Front Yard

1. Take advantage of available light. Vegetables need a lot of sunlight. Depending on the direction your house faces and even which side of the street you’re on, there’s a good chance you may have a shady north-facing backyard and a much sunnier front yard with southern exposure. If that’s the case for you, planting veggies in your front yard will maximize your opportunities for successful food growing.

2. Get to know your neighbors. There’s something about a front-yard vegetable garden that gets people talking. Experienced gardeners might kindly offer their advice. Children will stop by to learn how plants grow. Would-be gardeners will ask questions about how you make your garden happen. In a world where urban dwellers are often isolated from their neighbors, growing a front-yard vegetable garden is a powerful way to engage with people.

3. Rid yourself of lawncare. No one likes mowing the lawn. And with temperatures on the rise, many cities are restricting or even banning watering grass, a notoriously thirsty plant. By reducing or eliminating your lawn and replacing it with a combination of perennial plants and veggies, you can transform your front yard into a more attractive, environmentally friendly space.

How to Design a Front-Yard Edible Garden

Front-yard veggie gardens should fit your aesthetic and beautify your home.

For some, that might mean building large raised beds and filling them with pea trellises, sunflowers, and zucchini. For others, it may be preferable to plant mostly ornamental plants and include some containers of attractive herbs or a couple of small, dedicated beds for veggies.

It can be tempting to mix veggies right in with ornamental plants, popping a couple of kale plants in among your flowers, for example. However, if you’re not an experienced gardener, it’s generally best to keep veggies separate from ornamental plants, especially perennials.

Vegetables have their own needs, and mixing them with other types of plants can complicate things.

Of course, just like many living things, some veggies go through an awkward stage. Garlic, for instance, needs to die back before it can be harvested, so you may want to place it in a less-conspicuous part of your front yard.

Stay on top of thinning and harvesting your front-yard veggies, and remove any diseased plants or plant parts, so that your garden doesn’t become an eyesore for your neighbors.

Many crops need protection from the elements, especially when they have just been planted. Low tunnels made from PVC pipes are great in backyards, but they might raise eyebrows in front yards. Instead, try using a movable cold frame to nurture delicate seedlings in the early spring and fall.

Create an attractive bee-friendly oasis by including flowering herbs, like lavender. Not only will these help fruiting plants, like apples and zucchini, to have better yields, but you’ll be helping to restore your local environment.

What to Grow in Your Front Yard

Front-yard vegetables, fruits, and herbs can be beautiful. The following crops are both gorgeous and edible.

Blueberries. This relatively shade-tolerant fruit looks beautiful at all times of the year, from bare red stems in the winter to delicate foliage that turns fiery orange in the fall. Choose from highbush or lowbush varieties depending on your preference.

Mustard greens. Peppery, cold-tolerant mustard greens are a great addition to salads. These veggies grow easily from seed and range in shape and color from lime-green Tokyo bekana to feathery red mizuna. Try growing mustard greens in containers and planting a fresh round of seeds every week.

Chives. These vigorous perennial herbs are incredibly easy to grow, and their grassy foliage and cheery flowers look great in a front yard. There’s nothing quite like chopping fresh chives for an omelet. Just keep in mind that chives can be invasive, so always plant them in containers.

Chard. This stunning veggie, a member of the beet family, is known for its brightly colored stems. Chard grows easily from seed and doesn’t bolt in the heat, making it a classic for home gardens. See how to grow chard.

Things to Consider

Front yards are usually more exposed than backyards.

It’s a smart idea to get your soil professionally tested for heavy metals such as lead, especially if you’re near a busy road or have an older home. Search for a reputable soil laboratory in your area. In some cases, contaminants from house paint or car exhaust from the years before lead was banned can persist in the soil for decades.

If your soil is contaminated, plant your veggies in containers or consider forgoing edibles altogether until you can remediate the situation.

Consider planting a low hedge, or keeping your edibles back from the road, as shown here, to keep further car exhaust away from your veggies.

Do what you can to keep animals, including cats, from using your front-yard garden as a toilet. Their droppings can contain harmful parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii. In a backyard, row covers and chicken wire are useful ways to keep animals out of raised beds, but they usually don’t look good in a front yard.

Planting your veggies in small containers rather than large raised beds may make your garden less attractive to neighborhood felines.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a fence, some of your produce might be eaten by hungry or curious neighbors. Decide whether or not this is going to be a problem for you. If it is, consider avoiding easy-to-identify plants, like tomatoes and berries.

If you’re planning to grow a combination of vegetables and ornamental plants, take measures to ensure that edibles don’t get confused with poisonous ornamentals like delphiniums, especially if you’re gardening with kids. Give the veggies their own designated space, label your plants clearly and make sure family members are educated about what’s growing in the garden.

Vegetable gardening doesn’t have to be relegated to your backyard. Enliven your home, and your community, by putting food front and center.

“Welcome Edibles Into the Front Yard for Fresh Food and More” by Rebecca Cuttler originally appeared on, your connection to finding sunroom inspiration for your plants and getting more tips on front-yard edible gardens. Photo credit: Nilsen Landscape Design LLC, original photo on Houzz.


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