10 Ideas for an Edible Front Garden Your Neighbours Will Love
Choosing attractive, well-mannered plants and sharing the bounty can go a long way to creating a happy neighbourhood.
Adding edibles to the front landscape is a wonderful way to get more out of an urban or suburban lot. But not all neighbours are totally understanding of these less-than-common planting schemes. If you want to add fresh vegetables and fruit to your front yard while staying in your neighbours’ good graces, these 10 tips should help.
1. Grow gorgeous vegies
Deep purple eggplant and bright capsicum, giant globe artichokes, frilly kale and rainbow chard are just as beautiful as purely ornamental plants, but they also provide delicious organic food for your dinner table.
2. Wrangle sprawling plants in a container
Depending on the size of your front yard and the tolerance of your neighbours for the out-of-the-ordinary, you may want to avoid some of the more sprawling vegetable specimens. Zucchini, cucumbers, squash and tomatoes can easily get out of hand, and later in the season, their leaves tend to look a bit worse for wear.
But if you want to try some of the more space-intensive veggies, consider containing them in a raised planter to give the sprawling vines some structure (and stop them from invading the rest of your garden).
3. Let some edibles flower without harvesting
Artichokes and chives, with their purple blooms, immediately come to mind as having beautiful blossoms when left to flower. Plant enough so you can let some flower without harvesting, and enjoy blooms not often seen in florists.
4. Attract birds and butterflies
Pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies will help your garden be more productive. And who doesn’t love to spot birds and butterflies?
Mix pollinator-attracting plants and a beautiful birdbath (bees, birds and butterflies all need water!) with your edibles for a colourful garden everyone will love. Good choices include apple trees, apricots, citrus, nectarines, plums and pears. Plant in clusters of three or more to attract more pollinator attention.
5. Swap ornamental foliage for edibles
When you’re beginning to transition a traditional front garden to an edible landscape, you can replace purely ornamental foliage plants with lettuce, kale, Swiss chard or even rhubarb. These greens look just as lush as their ornamental counterparts, but they work even harder, providing fresh produce for your dinner table.
Tip: On a food safety note, unless you have a tall fence around your front garden, there’s a good chance that some of the plants closest to the footpath will receive a ‘visit’ from neighbourhood dogs, making any edible plants inedible. To be on the safe side, keep edible plantings closer to your house or up high in containers. Cats can also be a problem – bare dirt is most likely to be used by cats as a litter box, so it helps to minimise space between plants or fill with ground cover.
6. Add a dwarf fruit tree
You don’t need room for an orchard to harvest fresh fruit from your own tree. Dwarf fruit trees will stay small when planted in the ground, but they can also be planted in large pots or espaliered against a fence if you are very short on space. Seek out advice on the best varieties for your climate.
7. Plant an edible shrub
Why have a plain old shrub when you can have a lovely blueberry bush that provides not only privacy and greenery, but berries for your morning smoothies and muffins as well? Be sure to plant your berry bushes where you can easily access them – perhaps along the fence line if you want your neighbours to be able to share the harvest.
8. Ensure rear-round interest
One major difference between an edible garden in the front yard and one out the back is that people will notice if the whole thing falls apart at the end of the summer (when most food crops are harvested). To keep your edible front yard looking good, it’s important to incorporate attractive perennials, evergreens, and structures such as obelisks, paths and attractive fencing.
Tip: You’ll most likely need to swap out your summer vegetables for winter plantings so your garden remains stylish throughout the seasons.
9. Contain your tools
Bags of soil, stray garden gloves and unused pots left lying about may be fine for the backyard when you’re too rushed to tidy up, but in the front yard, it’s important to keep things neat. An attractive toolshed or outdoor storage makes it easier to quickly put tools and supplies away.
10. Share the bounty
The single best way to make your neighbours love your edible front yard? Sharing the harvest! Whenever your fruit tree or vegie patch starts going crazy, gather a basketful of goodies to take to your neighbours. Cut flowers or bundles of herbs also make lovely neighbourly gifts.
Source:Houzz Contributor, Houzz