Edible Estates

Being trained in Landscape Architecture, I have a series of problems with the iconic American front yard.

  • The amount of water used to maintain the ‘pretty’ green plain is huge and wasteful (the majority of the water use on this planet is used for irrigation – I would be curious to know what percentage is dedicated to front yards)
  • Massive amounts of chemicals are poured into trying to keep it green and weed free. This creates a monoculture. Two problems here: what is true in finances is true in landscaping, diversification yields the most long term benefits; chemicals that kill things are most likely bad for humans/animals too. Do you want your kids (or dogs) rolling around in a chemically managed lawn?
  • Because of constant mowing, the lawn is never truly healthy because the majority of the resources of the plant go to regrowing the leaf (because it supplies the food for the plant). The root system is in a constant stunted condition.
  • Lawn mowers pollute. A lot.
  • Hours are wasted mowing when time could be spent doing more enjoyable or meaningful things.

OK, so I think that covers the majority of what I dislike about lawns. Now, the upbeat part of all of this. Frizt Haeg is attempting to change the view on the contemporary lawn. His Edible Estates program installed a vegetable garden in the front yard of a local apartment complex here in town:

I think that this is such a fantastic idea. We always want to eat organically but there is concern with how far your vegetables are driven to you just so they are organic. And we always say to eat locally. How great would it be if local was your front yard? The biggests challenge may be trying to convince your HOA or apartment complex about what a great idea this truly is!


  1. elliek
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    That is such a great idea! And gardens are beautiful! But just like a lot of other decisions you have to make to live sustainably, it requires work. I’ve never mowed a lawn so I don’t know how long that takes, but gardens take work too…but I think brining in a basket of veggies and herbs would be a lot more fulfilling than just dumping out a bag of cut grass!

  2. Elizabeth
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    I agree – there is a lot more work involved in maintained a garden, but it can also build community if it’s installed at an apartment complex. . . it would be much more difficult for a single family residential lawn to garner the same community . . . there are limitations for sure to this idea, but nonetheless, I like it!

  3. Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Beth, I know you and plants don’t get along (ironically enough) but with all the shade in your back yard, you could SO easily grow a fabulous garden… then you could eliminate the St. Augustine entirely and put in stepping stones leftover from the projects you design. There: sustainable AND reuseable!

  4. Elizabeth
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hey, we’re getting along better than we used to! 🙂 We have considered just pulling up the bit of lawn that still exists in the back yard but for now I think it’s going to stay just because plants are expensive!

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