Lawns and gardeners often have a love-hate relationship. While lawns provide an open space and create uniformity throughout a neighborhood, they may seem like a waste of valuable growing space on a small residential lot. More and more, people are converting their front yards, in whole or in part, to vegetable gardens. When converting a lawn into a garden, care must be taken to ensure that the changes will continue to be compatible with the neighborhood aesthetic.
- Gravel (optional)
- Stone pavers (optional)
- High quality mulch (optional)
- 1-inch by 6-inch by 8-foot cedar lumber
- Screws (optional)
- Nails (optional)
- Powered screwdriver (optional)
- Hammer (optional)
- Dirt (optional)
- Compost (optional)
Sketch your front lawn the winter prior to making any changes. Place your house and any existing landscaping in the drawing in the appropriate places. Design your vegetable garden for easy maintenance so that it will not become overgrown during the busy gardening season.
Convert your front lawn one section at a time, according to the plan you've drawn. Minimize the mess and complete one bed or area at a time before moving to the next. Lay neat paths using gravel, attractive stones or high quality mulch. Utilize built-up beds to keep appearances tidy.
Build built-up beds by joining lumber using screws or nails into rectangles no more than 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. Lay the rectangles on the ground where you desire a vegetable bed. Kill grass by layering newspapers over each area and wetting them so they stay in place. Till the newspapers into the new bed using a rototiller once the grass is completely dead. Fill the beds with extra dirt and compost if needed.
Select vegetables that have a neat appearance and trellis those that tend to sprawl. Create borders using herbs. Use vegetables like you would use landscape plants to create a visually appealing garden, mixing tall and short or bushy and trellised to create interesting textures. Seek vegetables with unique coloration or foliage, such as variegated tomatoes or purple snap beans.
- University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Prepare Your Soil
- Columbia University: Home Grown: Backyard Vegetable Gardens Are Booming
- Colorado State University Extension: Water Wise Landscape Design
- Evergreen State College: Time Magazine Article on Julie Bass by Brad Tuttle
- University of Idaho: Victory Gardens Make a Comeback
- University of Alaska Fairbanks: Sustainable Landscape Design
- Photo Credit Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images