Edible Landscaping Your Front Yard

Yugoslavian Red Butterhead Lettuce with Violets
Yugoslavian Red Butterhead Lettuce with violas

Spring is just ahead and it’s the perfect time to plan on adding edibles to your suburban front yard. Here are some ideas  and strategies to help you get going.

First, think small. It’s overwhelming to tackle redesigning your entire yard and getting it right, unless you have have both design and gardening skills or professional help. There is a definite aesthetic norm to overcome in lawn-centric suburbia, but that convention is changing.  Growing vegetables, herbs, and fruit boldly in plain sight needn’t be the eyesore of the neighborhood if you give some thought to how they will fit in to your garden design. In my opinion, you can have both edible and ornamental plants coexist in a beautiful yard. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Strategies for Spring

A good strategy is to start gradually, and you can start this spring and be ready to add more edibles for summer. Enjoy learning as you grow, gather ideas about what you enjoy growing and eating, and design features you’d like to add. If you are new to growing vegetables, getting some experience first will help shape your overall landscaping goals.

You’ll have to consider exposure to direct sunlight, at least 4-6 hours per day, and the condition of the soil. Check with your local master gardeners for more details on planting and soil prep for your region.

Below are some simple ideas for small additions with the potential for big impact.

Heirloom America Spinach with violas
Heirloom America Spinach with violas

Where to Plant

Flower Beds and Borders:

If you have existing flowerbeds, that’s a great place to begin. If not, you might consider removing a strip or patch of lawn to make a combined flower and edibles bed. This would be nice as border along a walkway or fence, or even in the center of a lawn (remove and prepare a square or round shaped patch).

Containers:

Planting into containers is another way to experiment with edibles and containers can be moved around, grouped in different locations or used as a welcoming feature on a porch. Numerous colors, sizes, shapes and textures are available to match or brighten up your existing landscape. Containers filled with flowers and lettuce are sure to be a conversation piece!

Snow peas on a trellis in the front yard edible landscape
Mammoth Snow Peas on a trellis in my front yard edible landscape

What to Plant

Leafy Greens and Flowers:

For flowerbeds or borders, you can easily slip in vegetable seedlings when planting out flowering annuals or among bulbs.  Spinach, lettuces, and Asian greens, can be grown in spring since they prefer cooler temperatures. These leafy green veggies will add attractive foliage to a bed of flowers, and if you really want to be on your game, plant edible and beneficial flowers, such as calendulas, and add nasturtiums and marigolds for summer. But beware: if they were not grown without pesticides and herbicides, don’t eat the flowers!

The viola family, which includes violets and pansies, is also a good cool weather choice for early spring and great for the varied colors available. This group is perennial in mild winter climates and provides lots of blooms fall through spring.

Peas:

I also love growing snap and snow peas over winter and early spring. They are beautiful on a trellis, and you can plant flowers and leafy greens around them. I have several different trellises in the front yard of different sizes and designs for climbing edibles.

Eating sweet crisp pea pods with fresh salad greens from your own front yard may inspire you to expand your edible landscape into a beautiful productive kitchen garden.

If you have more tips for adding other  edibles for beginners, please add them using the comments section!

 

Photos: Urban Artichoke

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About the Author

Patricia Larenas is a writer and gardener living in Silicon Valley doing her part to heal the planet, one garden at a time. She left her career in the tech sector to dig in the dirt full time and help others create and enjoy their edible landscapes. Read more at her web site: urbanartichoke.com.