Gardening in the front yard

I know what you’re thinking! Some things are better left unseen. Those tomatoes and cucumbers should be in the back yard.My front yard What’s wrong with being like all of your neighbors and having a nice manicured green lawn?

Maybe you’re right. I have herbs, fruit trees, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, beets, onions, lettuce, arugula and beans growing in my front yard.

But, there seems to be some unexpected fruit.

I noticed that traffic would slow down in front of my house. Kind of like I had my own personal speed bump. Neighbors I had only waved to from a distance or as they passed by in their cars, now stopped their cars to talk or walked up the street to talk to me.

I’ve had to put down my tools and interact with people in my neighborhood that I only knew from a distance. I think I’m looking forward a harvest of vegetables, fruits and new neighborhood friends!



32 Responses to Gardening in the front yard

  1. Agentgurl says:

    Hey Jim,

    I think it’s really cool that you are doing your part in helping to make this planet greener and healthier. By planting your garden you are providing your neighborhood and your community with essential elements needed to help recycle the energy and nutrients that support your immediate ecosystem. Keep Up the Good Job! and don’t worry about being called a tree hugger:)

  2. amy bonham says:

    We should start site work on a green community in the metro pittsburgh area this month. this may be just what we need to green up the landscape. hope to do a drive by of your project on my next trip back to my hometown charm city.

  3. Mim Caris says:

    Hi Clarence,
    How are you? How are your gardens coming along?
    I hope everything has survived all the rain we’ve had lately.

    Best, Mim

  4. oliver103 says:

    Hi Mim,

    The garden is doing great! Im already using the herbs and lettuce. I ate my first strawberry yesterday. I think I have some figs growing too.


  5. oliver103 says:

    Hi Amy,

    The opening for the garden will be May 31th. Come by then if you are in town!


  6. oliver103 says:

    Hey Sybil,

    I take my hugs where I can get them!


  7. Sharon says:

    Hey guy, that really looks nice. Glad it’s providing the dividends you expected.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. laura m says:

    Hi there, sortof-kindof-neighbor!

    I found your garden (and this blog entry) through the Edible Estates website, and I’ve gotta say I’m blown away with how your yard is set up. Your house has actually inspired me to do something similar with ours next spring – finances won’t allow for it until then.

    The thing that blows me away about this is how you NEVER see this around town. I’m actually up near White Marsh (I did say we’re sortof-kindof-neighbors!), and I think this would really slow down traffic on our street…as well as provide us with plenty of great veggies for the growing season (and beyond!). I just want to know one thing: how do you prevent the rodent population from eating your greens? We’ve got more rabbits on our street alone than I think we had TOTAL out in Joppatowne.

    Anyway, KUDOS to you, sir, on a great way of breaking up the ‘burbs in Baltimore. Maybe more people will do the same since the Sun published a story about it.


  9. oliver103 says:

    Hi sortof-kindof neighbor,

    I think I’m just lucky with the rodents (bunnies) and I deer don’t venture that far into town. I do have to share some strawberries with a family of Robins but, that’s it. We do have lots of loose cats in the neighborhood and some of my visitors say they’re not very friendly to rabbits. You might try raised beds or decorative fencing. Other than that I can’t offer much help with the amimals.

    When I grew up in Harford county, there was always a garden, corn field, or fruit tree to raid. I like it now that my grand kids know their food doesn’t grow in the supper market.

    If you stop by again, make sure you knock.

    ps, you’re welcome to anything in the garden and if you’ve got any good recipe I can use the herbs in let me know.


  10. Misa says:

    Great blog! How are things coming along?
    I have Mesclun growing in left over plastic containers from work, tomatoes all over the place, peas, and have started some okra. I live in a fairly critter-heavy part of the country and I’m actually afraid to start using my raised-bed Lasagne garden! I need to get over it, though. Your Blog is helping me to do that. I just dread waking up to… know, devastation.
    Good luck!

  11. oliver103 says:

    Hi Misa,

    I’ve been very lucky. No critters of note! I should be eating tomatoes in two weeks. I have gotten some queries about okra. Did you start yours from seeds. I love okra and if its not to late I can start some.


  12. Misa says:

    The Okra was a bit slow to germinate but the sprouts are here. I don’t think it’s too late – give it a whirl!
    Since my post, I have bought a cinnamon oil based natural deterrent as well as an industrial sized container of Cayenne pepper. I think that the activities and scents of my dogs helps to keep away the rabbits, but I still can’t figure out who’s cutting off my sunflower seedlings at the neck! Grrrrrr……
    keep up the good work, looking beautiful!

  13. Cynthia says:

    With a homeowners association I’m asked to keep a lawn out so my vegatables are in the back yard. I’m slowly learning that soil prep means a great deal.
    Misa beat me with the dog smell idea. My mother heard a tip a long time ago that dog hair smell (maybe cat, too) sends bad signals to approaching pest animals. It could be gathered from vacuums of dog owners and the little fluff balls poked in the mulch around beds. Or, try brushing the dog (before a bath takes all that doggie smell off) next to the plant bed? Combining it with the other oils and peppers it could be something to try.
    On the mystery sunflower damage issue– does anyone know if those cutworms that attack tomato plants also like sunflowers? Could that be it? Or is a bunny just interested in the green shoot?

  14. Joshua says:

    Dear Clarence,

    I read about Edible Estates in Time, went tp your link as we have a similar sized front lawn in fron of our bungalow in Westborough MA. I think your garden is a great idea and looks amazing! I was wondering if you had to take into consideration the location of buried gas and water lines from the street to your house in determining your fruit tree placement or any other plant with deep roots (I don’t know much about fruit trees and how deep their roots are).


  15. oliver103 says:

    Hi Josh,

    I have had problems with trees and my drainage system in the past. The offending tree is no longer there. I’m not sure if the placement of these trees will cause a problem. My street is lined with large maple trees in proximity to my utilities and they don’t cause a problem. I plan to prune my trees to control height. This should help with the roots also. You can be sure that I will be keeping an eye on it.


  16. I love your garden and I love the concept! I live in central Florida where the water situation will most likely reach a critical shortage in the near future but in my neighborhodd and in most neighborhoods around me, we are required to have a certain percentage of grass maintained. I have always wanted to have a garden or at least have a landscaped yard, eliminating grass alltogether. How did you convince your neighborhood to let you go forward with this beautiful project? Any words of advice would really be appreciated.

    Best Wishes,
    Hillary G.

  17. oliver103 says:

    Hi Hillary,

    Great Artwork on you site! I think the key to acceptance is in the presentation just like your artwork. A well designed flower bed could very easily contain edibles. Some fruit bearing bushes look like any other landscape bush from across the street. My garden was designed by Fritz Haeg, an artist who was commissioned by the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. After looking at your artwork I have no doubt that you will be able combine edibles with your landscaping that will be acceptable to your neighbors. It also helps to be President of your Community Association like I am!

  18. Cath says:


    I think this looks great – and I really love the idea.

    Hope you have time for some quesitons!

    It looks like all of the beds are raised and like you put newspaper under each one.

    Am I right? If so, why the news paper and how do you keep the gardens up without fencing?

    How high did you need to raise the beds for vegetables, and what soil mix did you use?

    Thanks in advance for you time and your beautiful garden!


  19. oliver103 says:

    Hi Cath,

    Sorry about the delay in answering you post. I’ve been on vacation. You;re right, my beds are raised and have news paper under them. They are raised about 12″ and the news paper helps control weeds. The soil mix is top soil and compost donated by the city of Baltimore.

    I don’t need any fencing in my neighborhood to keep animals out. I’m not sure if fencing or repellents will protect my blueberries and strawberries from my neighbors children anyway! Just kidding, they’re welcome.


  20. Jay Rubin says:

    Hi Clarence.
    You’re very unique. I appreciate what you’ve done to transform your ordinary lawn into an artistic foodaretum. Looks great. best wishes, Jay (Homeland)

  21. Alice says:

    If you plant the tomato (or sunflowers) in cans that have been opened on the top and bottom, they make a little barrier that allegedly stops the cutworms. It’s worked so far for me, but my yard is too shady right now for much. Go Baltimore ailanthus trees! Sigh.

  22. michael eckert says:

    i have my whole side yard done up in garden and like you say the traffic always slows down to admire and ask questions when i am out there how do i contact edible estates to send them my pictures from here in boise idaho on a 4 lane street people come by and ask how i do it and tell me how much work i must have put in on it. let me know how to contact them to send them pictures. thanks and keep up the awesome work.

  23. Misa says:

    Next year I’ll try planting the sunflowers in a combo tin can / chickenwire setup, and then remove the chicken wire when the sunflower needs me to. The killing cuts were about 2″ above the soil – kind of un- wormlike, but what do I know? 🙂
    Since it’s August, the critter problem has become one of half-eaten tomatoes left on the vine. Sadly, my bird feeders have attracted rodents and I suspect that during their down time they’re climbing around in my garden. I may go get used ferret litter and scatter that – it’s the only environmentally friendly way I can think of to get rid of the pests and have a tomato or 2 for myself.
    Other than that everything’s going great. My landlord certainly doesn’t mind that he has much less lawn to mow. The 2 garden beds look like a jungle now and were very easy to put together.

  24. AnnaMaria Dechert says:

    Congratulations! What a wonderful idea that is long overdue in the United States. I read about the transformation of your front lawn into an edible garden and wish you much success. I grew up in a Polish ethnic neighborhood of Cleveland where everyone had backyard edible gardens and there was always tasty organic food to share. My husband and I are thinking of doing the same to a new property we will be moving to in Alexandria, Virginia. We would like our children to appreciate not only the bountiful harvests but also the satisfaction of their hard work and efforts, especially in these hard economic times.

  25. oliver103 says:

    Hi AnnaMaria,

    I like the idea of children appreciating the garden also. Its an experience that they will never forget. Its one of the reasons that I love to garden now. My front yard was a regular stop for the neighborhood kids. I even had a visit from a middle school class.

  26. Anna Maria Dechert says:

    Dear Clarence,
    I appreciate your response and hope you have a bountiful harvest all year round. Do you need a greenhouse to maintain plants over the winter?

  27. oliver103 says:

    Hi Anna,

    I’ve never used a greenhouse before, how big is it? E-mail me a


  28. Mary says:


    I think what you are doing in your front yard is fabulous! What a great way to provide your own food, get exercise, meet neighbors and educate people in ways they too can do this. My husband and I live in North Florida and we have been gardening for years and keeping a few chickens…which I think you could do easily! This would provide compost for your garden and eggs to your table. No rooster needed. We maintain a website
    Would you mind emailing me some pictures and information about your projects? I’d love to post an article about it on our website. In Florida we can garden all year long and I think your yard is an inspiration.


  29. oliver103 says:

    Hi, Mary,

    Thanks for your comments! I checked your site out and its great. You have a lot of information everybody can use. I think I’ll be a regular visitor.
    I send you and post some pictures tomorrow. My new projects this year involve taking advantage of the small planting areas I have by planting sonmthing above and below ground in the same areas. So far so good. In one mound I have tomatoes, red onions and sweet potatoes together and they are getting along just find!


  30. Mary says:

    Hi Clarence,

    We are looking forward to seeing new pictures of your projects. Your mounds sound similar to a practice common to the american indians, called “three sisters”. They would plant in a mound, corn, squash and beans. The beans would provide nitrogen to the soil because they are a legume and would also use the corn to climb up like a trellis. If you google three sisters planting, you can find some information on it. I also have a suggestion for another website you might find useful since you are further north. It is Elliot Coleman grows veggies in all four seasons up north. I have his book, Four Season Harvest and I’ve found it to be so useful.


  31. Ginny says:

    I need help turning my front yard into an edible beautiful space. Does anyone know of a person/company whom I could hire?

  32. laura m says:

    Hey Clarence! talked about you today. Take a peek here. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: