EDIBLE LANDSCAPING

frontyard-march08.jpg Late winter front yard landscape

Back in the 90’s after the front yard fell victim to layers of newspaper and a couple inches of mulch it’s been a journey of growth for our family. With an eye for function and form we’ve slowly transformed our typical lawn into a an edible landscape which provides our family with food and income.

Liberating our lawn was a radical act — a matter of “dollars & sense

What’s unique about the urban homestead’s front yard (and has folks driving by for a look see) is that back in the 1990’s we just didn’t smother the lawn and put up square raised beds. Instead the front yard has slowly evolved over time to be an aesthetic mixture of herbs, fruits and vegetables into a beautiful and productive combination.

‘Winter’ List of Plants Growing in Front Yard February 2008
Growing Space: ~1,300 sq. ft.

VEGETABLE

Avocado
Broccoli
Cabbage
Collard Greens
Kale – 3 varieties
Onions

HERBS

Aloe
Angelica
Bay
Blue Basil
Chives – 2 varieties
Curry
Echinacea
Flax
Fennel
Goldenrod
Jasmine
Lavender – 3 varieties
Lemon Verbena
Lion’s Tail
Moujean Tea
Oregano
Parsley
Rosemary
Rumex
Sage – 6 varieties
Tarragon
Thyme
Valerian
Yarrow

FRUIT

Apples
Aronia / Chokeberry
Blueberries – 3 varieties
Calamundin
Chilean Wintergreen
Elderberries
Eugenia – 4 varieties
Fig
Goumi
Grapes
Guavas – 7 varieties
Highbush Cranberry
Jelly Palm
Jaboticaba
Loquat
Plum
Quince
Rose Apple
Strawberries

EDIBLE FLOWERS

Alyssum
Bachelor Buttons
Calendula
Carnation
Daylilies
Dianthus
Geranium – 3 varieties
Johnny-Jump-Ups
Nasturtiums
Pansies
Roses – 4 varieties

OTHER

Broom
Butterfly Bush
Coreopsis
Daffodils
Perennial Sunflower
Poppies
Sunflowers
Sweet Rocket
Wildflowers

The front yard landscape goes through about “four faces” with the change of seasons. Of course, it’s a little extra work to tend such a mixture of perennials and annuals but the results are worth it because the benefits are many.

Here are just a few….

Healthier urban eco-system
Better use of municipal water – if you have to water your yard why not get something in return
Local source of income
Attracting wildlife
Reducing food miles
Combating climate change, energy dependence
Saving money with rising food costs

In our case, because of our homegrown business, we grow a bit more herbs and edible flowers than our family needs which takes up a sizable amount of growing space in the front yard.

The front yard fruit list is pretty impressive, growing fruit in such a small space can be challenging especially if you want to raise vegetables too.

We find that transforming a lawn into successful and productive edible front yard takes time. It’s an organic process, as the edible yard matures you have to mature along with it and that takes some effort and ingenuity.

For resources on edible landscaping and small scale orchard culture

:: Resources ::

Books

Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally
The Backyard Orchardist
The Backyard Berry Book
Edible Forest Garden
Fruit & Berries for the Home Garden

Links

Growing Fruit Trees in Limited Space
Edible Landscaping
Backyard Orchard Culture

No Comments

  1. PhoenixJen says:

    Thank you for taking the time to list out all the edibles in your front yard. I am in the process of creating something similar (probably about 2 yrs behind you) and am having a tour of my property this Sat. I’m going to borrow some of your insights and benefits to share with folks who come for the tour.

    PhoenixJen

  2. Emily B says:

    Wow Wow wow…..
    If you were not horticulturally knowledged and you looked at these pictures it would be said it is just an average garden. Very clever….

  3. Lizz says:

    Thanks for the list.

  4. Gus says:

    Cool – that’s a lot of plants (and a lot of food) in a small space! I’d suggest Edible Forest Gardens Vol I and II as an addition to your resource list. This is an information-packed and forward-thinking set about the theory behind and design of integrated polyculture gardens, incorporating trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. We are using it now to design our front and backyard gardens.

  5. Gus says:

    Not sure if my post went through…? Suggestion for your resources list – Edible Forest Gardens I and II. A highly informative and forward-thinking set on the theory and design of small-scale, integrated, edible polycultures, including trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. We’re using it now to design the garden in our front and back yards.

  6. Anais says:

    Gus,

    Thanks for the book recommendation.

    When we designed our edible front and back yard garden back in 80’s-90’s we didn’t read any edible books (expect for HOW TO GROW MORE VEGETABLES) so it’s hard to reference them and offer any personal recommendations.

    BTW we do carry Edible Forest Gardens and more urban agriculture titles on the Peddler’s Wagon

    http://www.peddlerswagon.com/c-64-agriculture.aspx

    Happy edible plantings!
    Anais

  7. gigi says:

    dear anais
    you guys have been giving so much inspiration and example,and i just love you and appreciate ALL you do !!

    thanks to that,i bought 6 chickens (totally organic,loving pets!!) in february,and last month 6 more!!

    they are fed an ALL ORGANIC DIET,and started laying eggs at FOUR MONTHS OLD!!! i have never seen anything like this,and would have not believed it if somebody had told me!!
    4 of them were already 4 months old,and had they beks burned,as it is a common practice in overcrowded cages,in commercial facilities;besides the disgusting/animal cruelty practice and lack of animal compassion (READERS,GO TO PEAT-ASSOCIATION AGAINST ANIMAL ABUSE),the 4 chickens are very scared of people,of the other chickens,even FOOD which i toss their way!!!very nervous,stressed,and COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the other 6,which are absolutely tame,come when called,squat to get petted,and come to us to make comments and tell us about what they are doing,all with different voices,intonations,and of course,personalities!!!!

    i am not a vegetarian,but I WILL NEVER EAT MY CHICKENS /pets,and i am daily grateful to their daily gifts of scrumptious omega 3 yummi eggs!!!

    i want to let you know that JABOTICABA is one of my favorite fruits ,and that the peel will make probably one of the most delicious jam/preserve you have ever tasted!!
    i could have never guessed that it would grow in california!!
    it is a huge tree,and i wonder how long would it take to be productive!!
    what else would you make with it? chutneys?

    love,light,peace and perfect health for you and your family!!
    gigi

  8. Front Yard Gardening « The Urban Garden Project says:

    […] for anyone who is interested in implementing this method.  Check out their site by clicking HERE.  The Dervaes family has taken this lifestyle to the extreme and it has really transformed their […]

  9. chase says:

    Hi –
    I was searching editable landscaping due to a recent little but extremly informative softback booklet i picked up used for 25 cents. Old book – written by an Organic edble landscape architech. Apparently well known, out of Louisana.
    (I don’t have the booklet in front of me, or i would turn you on to it and will if you shoot me an email) I was attempting to see if i could find more on the author as i under stood from the booklet he has written for some magaizes.

    In the booklet there are several example by region as what to plant and where giving full design layouts. Having seen and read what his ideas and the above photos and list of plants you used, I must say I really like what you have done with your property Miss Anais.

    Beautifull and sounds like bountiful as well.

    congrats and thanx for your writing and photos.

    as mentioned send me an email – i’ll make a point to send you the name of the author and title – i’m sure you’d enjoy it.

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