Poll: Do Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens Offend You?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/25/2012 6:00 AM   :  480 comments   :  27,851 Views

See More: news, poll, gardening,
A married couple in Montreal wanted to improve their health, so they planted a vegetable garden (picture at left is a stock photo, not their garden). By growing their own cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, beets, onions and Brussels sprouts (among other fare), homeowners Michel Beauchamp and Josee Landry lost 75 and 25 pounds, respectively, and have improved their diet and their health.
Now, according to CBC News (link includes photos of their garden), the couple is fighting to keep their garden, facing fines between $100 and $300 per day if they don't pull up their vegetables. Why?
Because their vegetable garden is in their front yard. Neighbors complained, and now the city is planning to outlaw the growing of vegetables in front yards.
This isn't the first story of its kind. Last year, the story of a woman in Michigan who faced 93 days in jail for planting vegetables on her front lawn garnered national attention.
This has led me to wonder: Would you be offended if vegetables replaced your neighbor's front lawn?
I can relate to the homeowners in these stories—to an extent. The 0.10-acre lot on which my home sits is tiny. The backyard is completely shaded by large trees that are hundreds of years old—not to mention, my front yard is actually larger than my backyard and gets all the sun.  I wanted to grow my own vegetables for health, financial and environmental reasons, so I really had no choice but to plant them where I had the space: in front of my house (and some on the side, too). It is within city limits, but not subject to any HOA rules. Although I was nervous that neighbors might not like it, I ultimately made the decision based on what was right for me. Most neighbors I've since spoken to about the garden are enthusiastic and supportive of it. They aren't bothered. Some didn't even notice the plants I was growing were vegetables. Others thought it was a great idea.

Vegetable seedlings in my front-yard garden
Had they complained, I'm not sure how I would have reacted. I keep a nice, tidy house and a neat lawn and garden (to the best of my ability anyway). Had the authorities ever gotten involved, I probably would want to fight against it just on principle. In my opinion, it's my right to grow whatever vegetation I choose to on my lawn—or not. I've long held the belief that grass is just a waste of space and resources. Sure, it's pretty, but when so many people are struggling financially, struggling to eat right, struggling with poor health, and struggling with soaring costs at the pump and the grocery store, why not put that space to better use and grow whatever you can on the space you have available? A packet of seeds costs a couple bucks and can easily provide more than enough filling, healthy produce for a family that otherwise might not be able to buy fresh produce at a store. And if you're into the local food movement or want to buy organic foods but can't afford them, it doesn't get more local (or organic) than planting your own seeds at home.

Seedlings and potted plants in my side-yard veggie garden
Granted, vegetable gardens don't have to be in the front yard. Some people have adequate growing conditions in their backyard. And if I did, my garden would probably end up in my backyard, too. But there's also something I like about my front-yard garden. Aside from connecting me with my neighbors more (I see and talk to all of them while working in my front-yard garden—something that wouldn't happen if I was in the backyard), I feel like it serves as a reminder and example to others that YOU can do this, too. That it's totally normal. That where our food comes from matters.
Why should gardening be so secluded or out of the public eye? Who says flowers and shrubs are OK in my planting beds but kale and basil aren't? Who should have the right to determine what is aesthetically pleasing or "suitable" to plant and what isn't if not the homeowners themselves? Growing food has nothing to do with class or socioeconomic status; gardening transcends race, class, education level and age. It certainly isn't bringing down my property values or those of my neighbors. It's something almost anyone can do and benefit from—so why not celebrate (rather than punish) it?
What do you think? Would front-yard veggie gardens bother you if they were in your neighborhood? Why or why not?

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  • 430
    My husband is a county agriculture agent and they like to promote edible landscaping. What is the difference between an apple tree or vegetables? In WW 2 85% of all domestically consumed produce was from what they called victory gardens. Do I support them? You bet I do! - 8/7/2012   1:41:10 PM
  • 429
    Definitely should be able to plant your garden anywhere on your property you would like. Isn't it better to have a healthier planet than one that has unrealistic rules that don't make sense? - 8/7/2012   12:20:54 AM
  • 428
    I agree that you should be able to plant what you like in your yard! Especially with the food shortages that are going to raise prices due to the droughts in the Midwest. - 8/6/2012   7:45:49 PM
  • 427
    I think we should be allowed to plant what we want where we want in our yards, as long as we keep it up. I'm planning on ripping out the English ivy and replacing it with sweet potato plants next year. The sweet potato plants vine, have a beautiful flower and produce I hope lots of sweet potatoes, since I prefer them to potatoes and candy bars.
    - 8/6/2012   8:11:09 AM
  • CLEO27
    I wouldn't be offended by it. I actually considered starting my own garden, but I don't have a fenced in yard and there is no guarantee that kids and or animals wouldn't be trotting over my plants.

    If someone owns the property they are planting on then they shouldn't be fined, it's their property. - 8/5/2012   10:48:16 AM
  • 425
    Its becoming more common in my Colorado mountain community. Its the wave of the future. - 8/3/2012   11:50:35 PM
  • 424
    I love the look of their garden--it's bushy and thick, but not unkempt! I took my parents' extensive suburban farm when I lived at home, and now I wish I'd both appreciated it more and learned to garden from them! When they bought their house, they tore out the front and back lawns, terraced the front lawn into exterior and interior fruit, vegetable, and flower gardens, and set the backyard up for fruits and vegetables almost all the way around the house. As years passed, more and more people in our neighborhood, and then throlughout the city, did similar terracing and planting in their yards! I love seeing it! At my own house, I never wanted a lawn to begin with because it's a waste of water, especially here in the Sonoran Desert, but when I found out we'd have flood irrigation that would cost only about $50/year instead over over $100/month that most lawn owners in my city pay, I was all for it, planted fig and citrus trees, and made a raised veggie bed in my backyard. I'd veg and fruit it all out if the flood irrigation weren't so extreme and I just had more know-how! - 8/3/2012   5:42:53 PM
    Back in the 70s, my husband was stationed in Germany and we lived in an apartment that was not on the base. The apartment next door to us had a vegetable garden in the front yard and we soon learned that this was a normal thing. It is the most natural thing in the world. If I could have one, I would put it in the backyard though.I am very much in favor of personal gardens. - 8/3/2012   2:38:52 PM
  • 422
    I would much rather see a well tended vegetable patch than a messy, weedy front lawn and much rather have precious water resources used on something that will feed people rather than just cover the ground and look good. Too many people have developed a "Stepford" mentality about how things should look and how things should be done. In the 1940's Americans were encouraged to turn all their available yard space in to "Victory Gardens". Well, we are fighting for our health, so these are still Victory Gardens! - 8/2/2012   6:53:23 PM
  • 421
    It would only offend me if their vegetables were better than mine! - 8/2/2012   4:53:46 PM
  • 420
    I can't imagine what gives anyone the right to complain about front yard vegetable gardens. Vegetables are a lot more useful than grass, and considering how much money some people spend on chemicals and upkeep to make their yards look weed-free and "perfect," growing vegetables has to be cheaper. Bonus points for being able to eat what you grow.

    We live in a mostly rural area, so there's no pressure to have the perfectly manicured lawn...even so, our philosophy is, "If you can't eat it, it doesn't get priority when it comes to weed control or water."

    I'd certainly rather see veggies in someone's front yard than the abundance of really ugly lawn ornaments out there. The clutter of gnomes, reflecting balls, and ceramic woodsy-type animals surely is not preferred to something green, leafy, and NATURAL to the environment, is it? And don't get me started on those awful wood cut-out things that look like a fat woman in bloomers bending over to weed. *shudder* Give me beet greens any day over that! - 8/2/2012   2:45:53 PM
  • CAROLA28
    Front yard gardens don't offend me as long as they're kept up and not an eyesore. I'm offended by those who tear up their front yard grass to put in a bunch of huge boulders and also wild grasses, which grow 10 feet or more and look horrible. They'll also put in rose bushes and then leave them to grow wild, instead of pruning them and taking care of them. They don't understand they bring down property values on their block when they do that. And, they wonder why they--or no one on their block--can sell their house. - 8/2/2012   12:31:55 PM
  • 418
    I think growing a garden in the front yard is a great idea. I have been thinking about doing that because the front is more sunny. - 8/2/2012   1:29:46 AM
  • 417
    for sure one should be allowed to grow veggies in front. why on earth not?! - 8/2/2012   1:12:24 AM
    Go veggies!

    I don't even think veggies should be out of bounds in the easement. If it's the householder's job to maintain the strip (which it usually is), it's the householder's right to choose what to put there.

    If there are rules about what can go in the easement, they should be outcome-based: e.g., limit height for visibility, or limit tree interference with power lines, or require such-a-many points at which the easement can be crossed by pedestrians. But any plants that meet the outcomes should be allowed. - 8/1/2012   6:18:24 PM
    I think that people should be able to plant a garden in the front yard. May be the people with the cranky neighbors may want to share some fresh veggies and offer to help them with their own garden. - 8/1/2012   4:07:33 PM
  • 414
    Front yard gardens are nice, and so are gardens that combine both flowers and vegetables. A well-tended garden is beautiful wherever it is. - 8/1/2012   1:50:44 PM
  • 413
    I have no problem with a front yard garden. It's a great use of space. If it was me, I'd put up a tall wood fence around my front yard, and then hire someone to do a graffiti mural on it just to piss them off even more (in case they want to sell their home). - 8/1/2012   12:02:50 PM
  • 412
    I can see that we can't put plants in the easement, but other than that, if we're somewhat tidy it would seem we should be able to grow what we wish. I often see varieties of kale used for decoration. Who's to determine what is appropriate. Since I'm paying the taxes, I feel I should be able to grow what I want! - 8/1/2012   10:21:03 AM
  • 411
    Gardens at the neighbors is GREAT! There are always tomatoes, squash, and other yummies to be shared. - 7/31/2012   10:54:50 PM
  • 410
    I have no problem with a vegetable garden in the front yard. In fact, that is where I am starting mine. My backyard is slopped down to the river and there is less space in the back than in the front. I don't anticipate complaints from any of my neighbors (unless I don't share). To me a garden is a garden whether it contains vegetables or flowers or both! - 7/31/2012   7:06:11 PM
  • 409
    I feel that people should be able to plant what they want wherever they want. I didn't even know that this was a problem in some areas. This year I planted a garden in the front of my home. I dug up a bed that is asthetically pleasing to the eye, installed a garden edging, ect. I have had no problems with people making complaints. - 7/31/2012   3:19:11 PM
  • 408
    In the picture of the first neighborhood, the plants appear to be on the easement, which I understand to be city property, therefore the city has a right to prohibit certain plants. However, I'm sure the city has a lot more important things to do than that! AND it's "green" to grow your own food, and it's cool, too. I think the only reason a plant should be disallowed is if it's near the sidewalk and it's poisonous, or if it's an invasive species. - 7/31/2012   2:10:38 PM
  • 407
    I always LOVE it when I'm in the city and see a *front yard* garden!!!!! I think it's a delightful and very sensible way to use the little sunny space available to most city folks. I personally live on a large farm, and our veggie gardens are out by our barn.... and my *front* yard is very shady and hardly grows grass.... but I applaud 'front yard' gardens and absolutely love to see them! - 7/31/2012   10:29:25 AM
  • 406
    Ugh. IMO, this is a sad commentary on our culture.

    I would not mind it AT ALL if my neighbors did this. My only concern about doing it myself is that my neighbors would probably help themselves to my produce! ;) - 7/31/2012   10:00:36 AM
  • 405
    I love gardens of any type. A well kept vegetable garden is far more interesting than even a well kept lawn and I know some people who put down gravel in their front yard so they wouldn't have to mow! Horrors!, Now THAT should be illegal. You should be allowed to plant a garden where ever you want. Sometimes the only suitable place is the front yard. I used to plant in buckets on my porch when I lived in an apartment. I think more people should plant vegetable gardens even in the front of their homes. - 7/31/2012   9:46:17 AM
  • 404
    People who are offended by front yard gardens need to get a life, a hobby or something. This is ridiculous. I live in the SF bay area and people here have chickens, some have goats, dogs, cats, rabbits and honestly, I think it's great. To each their own. - 7/30/2012   8:31:24 PM
    I think it's absurd that people have faced legal trouble due to the location of their gardens. I absolutely would not care if my neighbors had a veggie garden in their front yard. It's no one's business but the homeowners as to where they plant their gardens. - 7/30/2012   7:32:31 PM
    I don't think I would mind. I could see if the family wasn't maintaining the plants and they were out of control or causing some kind of offense to the neighbors, but that's not the case. Imagine if more people gardened at home, then they could get together at "harvest time" and swap veggies! - 7/30/2012   7:24:24 PM
  • 401
    If it is thoughtfully laid out and well maintained, what is the problem? I can't find any, other than putting a vegetable garden out where people pass by may create problems, such as dogs using the garden for a toilet and people taking your nice ripe tomatoes before you get to them. Grass is not always the best solution. In this year of drought, many folks are re-evaluating their water use and realizing grass is not the best return on their water investment. - 7/30/2012   1:48:02 PM
  • 400
    Offend me?? No, not in the least!!
    I think that having a frontyard vegetable garden is a GREAT IDEA --
    I can't think of a better way to use space.
    I'm sorry that their neighbors complained! - 7/30/2012   1:47:07 PM
  • 399
    People should be applauded for growing their own!! GET REAL ... the only reason to complain would be if the garden is unkempt BUT if someone is going to these lengths to grow a veggie garden, I highly doubt they would leave it in a state of disrepair unless there was some kind of crisis ... - 7/30/2012   12:50:00 PM
  • 398
    Who could seriously object to growing vegetables? Wow just amazing. Now perhaps if it were ill kept or had rotten produce lying around, they could be asked to keep it tidy, but otherwise have at it and enjoy. - 7/30/2012   12:21:03 PM
  • 397
    I would be inspired to see a thriving food (Victory) garden growing in a front yard. Many food plants are quite attractive and can be integrated into landscapes without "offending" neighbors. - 7/30/2012   12:06:05 PM
    The couple mentioned are actually from Drummondville, a far away suburb of Montreal! From what I have witnessed, gardens are actually very encouraged in Montreal! They're in front yards, growing directly on balconies, roof tops, in community gardens, everywhere! :) Anyways, that is beyond the point... I am upset that even today with all the new knowledge we have about nutrition, all the talk about sustainability and growing our own food - that people still prefer aesthetics over necessity. If I would have seen this from my neighbour... I would have said: WOW! What a great idea! Can I join you?! - 7/30/2012   9:04:07 AM
  • 395
    There is a garden in the yard at the White House as part of Michelle Obama's campaign to introduce people to a healthier life style. Some of us remember the Victory Gardens from WWII. And for those people who can't afford to buy organic produce you can buy vegetable seeds with food stamps. Can anyone think of a better way to live healthy?

    - 7/30/2012   3:00:06 AM
  • 394
    If your home is in a Golf Course Community and worth $400,000-$600,000 then I can see not wanting the neighbors to have gardens in the front yards, but for an average neighborhood, it would be an improvement, I'd say, especially if they added some flowers.
    I'd think you'd have to worry that some people would steal the food. - 7/30/2012   12:28:12 AM
  • 393
    I took a walk the other day and seen a front yard garden.. I wouldnt of noticed it if i read the article - 7/29/2012   10:34:52 PM
  • 392
    Your garden area looked very neat and appealing, some of them I've seen aren't nearly as nicely kept. We live in an HOA in the West Valley of Phoenix, so I don't even need to consider a garden in the front -- I know it would not be allowed.
    But we also have a home in Yarnell, with no HOA, and the freedom to do what we please. Mostly in the front yard we have flowers and some herbs, but one year did have corn and tomatoes out there. The neighbors loved it -- I know I would have a different reception on that in Phoenix. - 7/29/2012   7:22:00 PM
  • 391
    I don't care what my neigbors hve planted in their front yards as long as their yards look nice and the beds are tended to but were i live there is no where to walk your dog but up and down the street and even though most of us take care to pick up any messes there are "presents" that we find and even if it is not that i don't see how i could keep the cats and dogs from doing number one in our front yard so it is somethingi would not even consider. - 7/29/2012   4:26:05 PM
  • 390
    I have no idea about the rules here in germany when it comes to gardening (and I live in an appartment house).. but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a "problem" here too.

    I think any kind of garden that is well taken care of is at any given time better as some junk yard / waste dump you see all around. - 7/29/2012   3:23:31 PM
    Oh Good Grief!!! If I am reading things right growing vegetables and fruits where ever you can is great and may well become a necessity. Great to see all the positive blogs - 7/29/2012   2:06:42 PM
  • 388
    What is the point of owning your home and land if you can't do what you want with it. I do get annoyed with my neighbor who has six vehicles parked in his back pasture (visible from my kitchen window) but it is his property.
    I love to see gardens no matter where they are planted! - 7/29/2012   2:02:33 PM
  • 387
    I think if you are the owner of the property you should be able to plant in your front yard if you choose. Honestly, if that couple were my neighbor I would absolutely be friendly with them . . . what better way to get fresh veggies. LOL! - 7/29/2012   12:39:33 PM
  • JANANN65
    What happens if the person does not have a back yard to grow a garden and the only space to plant is in the front yard? I think as long as it is well groomed and taken care, there should not be an issue. The neighbors who are making this an issue, should mind their own business and worry about what is going on in their yards and homes and not worry about their neighbors. How ridiculous is it that these people cannot grow a veggie garden and take care of their families. Shame on the towns for trying to take away this right from the residents. - 7/29/2012   10:24:20 AM
    If the garden is kept tidy then I don't have a problem with it. However the garden in question looks unkept and overgrown. It looks like it would be an eye sore. I believe if you are going to plant vegetables in your front yard you should be mindful of how tall it will grow and if you will be able to maintain it well before planting it. - 7/29/2012   1:10:16 AM
    I think gardens worked into landscaping is quiet fine but if it was where the photo showed the city had the right to fine them. I know I have to care for that little piece of land but the city "owns" from the sidewalk to the road, put the veggies closer to home and have fun. - 7/28/2012   10:27:19 PM
  • 383
    I think it's completely fine for people to grow veggies or food in the front yard!! I agree that grass is mostly wasted space -- veggies and plants in general give a lot more variety to the area. Besides the beautification it can provide, I am all for people getting out more, taking stock and ownership of their food (supply), and actively working to cultivate what they will use. You never know, sometimes it will inspire someone else to do the same, or you can share food with your neighbors if you have too many extras! - 7/28/2012   10:20:36 PM
  • 382
    I'm totally with you that it's okay to have vegetables in the front yard landscaping - "foodscaping," although I've chickened out and chosen the plants in my front yard mostly for appearance. That said, I have a peach tree, a cherry tree, and a patch of strawberries in my front yard. The side yard has cilantro (well coriander at this point), thyme, sage, basil and mint. Oh, and some brussels sprouts right up against the house. I hate the stink of the lawnmower and don't see why I should have to work at a landscape I don't want. - 7/28/2012   9:28:56 PM
  • 381
    How crazy is it that we've become are obsessed with growing grass, which is environmentally unfriendly in most places given the amount of extra water and chemicals needed to maintain it, and are against someone growing a garden of healthy vegetables. - 7/28/2012   7:00:39 PM

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