Is grass overrated?

21 Jul

I’ve been reading Fritz Haeg’s wonderful book Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.

I originally saw Fritz on a Martha Stewart re-run and found his ideas revolutionary. His transformations of ordinary, boring suburban front yards into productive (and importantly attractive) spaces was eye-opening to me.

I’m sure you’ve seen the front yard veggie garden of the Nonno up the street or 3 doors down from your brother – don’t we all have one? The Italians realised long ago that productive gardens could be beautiful. Now I’m looking for that long lost Mediterranean branch in my family tree, but drawing a blank. My friend Michele has grandparents who bottle their own passata and make their own salami – I wanna be Italian!

I can’t change my gene pool, but I can change my landscaping.

I’ve witnessed the reaction of my own neighbourhood when I pulled out the roses and replaced them with vegetables. I had a few negative comments, but the many positive ones far outweighed the doubters. I’ve had so many conversations with passing people over the past few months that I never would have imagined. People don’t just walk past anymore – they stop and look, comment and ask questions. I’ve had people drive past and stop, and even some who have made a special trip to see.

Now don’t get me wrong – My garden isn’t that amazing. I think it’s just the concept that people are intrigued by. In my area (with small land sizes), growing food just isn’t that popular, and those who do hide it away from everyone else in their back yards.

Our front yard

So after several months of front yard veggie gardening, I’m longing for more space. My eye is drawn to the front lawn, and I wonder if the neighbourhood and I are ready for the next step. I’ve been considering the layout and the price of materials (quite significant), so need to take it slow.

But I’ve mentally committed. My food forest is going to happen.

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13 Responses to “Is grass overrated?”

  1. John Murdock July 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    wow, you are really clever. I am so interested to follow it. A productive garden and some fresh food are available on your front yard. 😀 thanks for share

  2. Sarah July 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    I’m sure that hubby won’t object to less mowing either!!

    • L July 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

      Hehe 🙂 I can think of another person who should plant out his whole yard if minimising mowing is the goal 🙂

  3. The New Good Life July 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Wow, you go girl. Can’t wait to see the progress of this new project.

    • L July 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

      Thanks 🙂 Might be a slow one though – I need to make it look all purdy.

  4. ali July 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Oh yes, I am with you… so with you that a few weeks ago I went wild and mulched my entire front yard. I’d really love a food forest with paths and tall corn (I’ve got a thing about corn) and just food food food everywhere… what a fabulously interesting garden you are going to have!

    • L July 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      J has a thing about corn too. She insists that we don’t live on a farm because there’s no corn. Then I told her I was about to plant some corn, so now we don’t live on a farm because we don’t have a cow.

      I think she’s got me there 🙂

  5. ali July 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    ps, and in answer to your question, yes, grass is overrated. Go the food forest!

  6. veggiegobbler July 22, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Yay! Can’t wait to see it.

  7. Brendan @ Merewether Life July 23, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    I have a lovely swathe of grass onto the road at our place, it is the only flat grass on our block and it would make an ideal productive space as it has no shadows falling across it. But, like you, I can imagine the neighbourhood revolt – it stops me doing it for now.
    Also, love the rebellion implied in ‘digging up the roses’ – I did same at my first house and the elderly neighbours would take time to stop me and explain how the fabled ‘blue rose’ of Mrs Dead-Former-Owner was a local landmark and I was desecrating a site of regional significance. Sheesh – was just a gnarled knob of wood with a sickly thorn festered shoot each summer with a rose on it….
    Roses are a symbol of our supermarket dependence if you ask me…

  8. ali July 24, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    How about a fake cow? On the front lawn… you could move it every day. People up the road here do that with a kangaroo, the boys love it!

  9. Leanne Cole July 26, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    For what it is worth I have reduced the amount of grass I have by so much, and am continuing to dig it up. I have none in the front yard anymore, almost none out the side and out the the back when the vegies grow, hopefully none there in the near future. I just have the nature strip. Grass is a lot of work.

  10. Mrs Bok August 2, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    I keep looking at my front yard too, but get no sun there as there’s a huge lovely paperbark. One of my favorite books is The Edible Front Yard and I always open it for inspiration.

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