Food Not Lawns: Turn Your Water Loving Yard Into a Garden

Green lawns have long been a staple of residential neighborhoods; they are favored by homeowners associations for their uniformity and by home builders for their ease of installation. However, lawns are just not suited for many geographic areas and arid areas require irrigation and extensive watering. In most cases, chemicals are used to eliminate weeds and petroleum resources are used to keep the lawn mowed and trim.

Instead of growing a monoculture of lawn many residents are turning their lawns into gardens. Sometimes dubbed ‘survival gardening’ a front yard food garden is often a sign of pride and love. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to grow your own flowers, produce, herbs, planting gardens encourages biodiversity and sustainability within your own yard and provides habitat for many helpful insects such as bees. Flower gardens in particular will encourage bees, butterflies, and humming birds to frequent your garden and will help ensure proper pollination of fruit and vegetable plants.

The first task to plant your new garden is to remove all or a part of your lawn. There are several options to remove the grass, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantage. Many people choose to kill their lawn by placing a large tarp over the area preventing sunlight from reaching the lawn; this is a relatively low effort method but many of the grass roots will remain and will simply resprout when the tarp is removed.

A more effective method to remove lawn is to cut it out with a shovel and roll it much like sod farms do; this requires more physical effort but will be more sustainable in the long run. Regardless of which method is used chemicals to kill the lawn should be avoided as these chemicals will remain in the soil and will contaminate your future garden.

The next essential task to turn your lawn into a garden is to prepare the soil and ensure it has enough nutrients to support a garden. Adding compost or maneuver is an effective method of adding nutrients.

The soil below the lawn is likely compact and the garden plot should be tilled to allow the soil to loosen and to mix in the compost and manure. Tilling can be done with a shovel and rake or with a motorized tiller.

Tillers can be rather expensive to purchase but can be rented by the day at most hardware stores. You may also find that neighborhood communities that garden will be perfectly willing to loan the use of a tiller.

Replacing the lawn and getting ready to plant a food garden.

Many cities and home owners associations have been reluctant to allow residences to turn their lawns into gardens, especially in the front yard, for fear of reducing property values and encouraging deviation from the expected norm of cub appeal.

However, cities across the country have started to recognize that those residents who replace their lawn with gardens are the type of neighbors who care for the land and upkeep the neighborhood and many city ordinances prohibiting front yard gardens have been repealed. Many of the young first time home buyers are environmentally conscious and desire sustainability within their own lives and are looking for homes with plentiful food, not lawns. -KATHY FAIRCHILD

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