No matter how neatly manicured, vibrantly green, and classically attractive your lawn is, you’re probably not going to eat the grass. But who said gardens had to relegated to the backyard anyway? In lieu of a Wimbledon-like lawn, your front yard could yield a rich mix of figs, peppers, blackberries, radishes, and even basil plants sculpted into formal cones—a vision that’s arguably prettier than a standard patch of grass, and certainly one that’s more creative, practical, and environmentally friendly.
This vision is pretty much what Rosalind Creasy’s yard looks like. Creasy is the author of Edible Landscaping, the latest edition of which has just been published by Sierra Club Books. A SF Chronicle profile of Creasy describes how dramatically the front yard of the “guru of edible landscaping” stands out from her typical suburban surroundings of one neatly trimmed lawn after another:
Driving through one of these neighborhoods, it’s impossible to miss Creasy’s yard, an explosion of color and edibles. It starts with the soil, which she amends with homemade compost and chicken manure from her front-yard coop. “You can put your arm into my soil up to your shoulder,” she says.
Touring Creasy’s 2,000 square-foot front-yard garden is like visiting Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – there’s something edible everywhere you turn. At the start of fall, the stevia leaves were sweet, the Hungarian peppers were red and waxy, and the figs were nearly ripe.
Sounds both delicious and beautiful. And of course, whereas when you put time and money into a lawn, flowers, and trees, the payback is limited to a handsome appearance, a garden is a literally more fruitful endeavor. If done the right way, a garden will help you save far more on groceries than any money needed for planting and upkeep.
How do you get started? Down toward the end of the story, Creasy offers a half-dozen tips for planting an attractive, productive garden, including:
In an area with lots of sun, grow Mediterranean herbs. Creasy can’t fathom going to the store for thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives or sage.
“If you don’t have a lemon tree, shame on you.”