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How to Eat the View

permaculture designer and a garden writer, His Ebook From My Garden is widely available.



Beyond Lawn

Okay, I just have to say. Come right out and voice what I think. Here it is, lawns are a waste of time, energy, water and space. There that feels so much better.

The lawn was once a sign of wealth; it indicated that you have enough resources that you did not need the space to grow food or raise sheep.

The lawn was and still is a status symbol. Now droughts and dry spells and municipal watering limits have made some people change their ways but there is a still along journey ahead.

Can you picture your lawn as a food forest or envision using edible plants in your landscaping?

How about incorporating vegetables into your landscape design; consider a mix of herbs, tomatoes and nasturtiums?

As the price of food, gasoline and everything in between continues to rise are lawns a luxury that we can afford?

Take a look at public buildings, city halls, state and provincial legislatures, the Parliament buildings, the White House, lawns, lawns and more lawns; sure some have done some great landscaping but there is little growing that you can eat.

Now in these days of heightened security concerns, I am not suggesting that government building open their lawns to the public for community gardens, but what about growing food for sue within the government cafeterias, dining rooms and what have you?

What a great way to set an example and show what can be done.

Okay, let’s get back to your property and your neighbours. What can you do to get rid of that waste space we call the lawn?

Well, first let me say a good thing or two about a lawn, after all I grew up playing on one. Lawns do serve purposes; children play on them, pets romp on them and families and friends picnic on them; to name a few.

But the question you must ask is how much lawn and in particular backyard do you really need? Do an assessment; how do you and your family use the backyard; we are separating the back from the front as that is what is done. The front and back are often two separate spaces with separate purposes.

Now that you have the assessment; how do you use the backyard and do you need all the lawn you have to do those activities? If you do, that is fine, if you don’t ah, time to plan.

All you really need to grow some food is a small 6x6 space but if you start to combine food gardening with landscaping, you will find that you can have both a fine looking yard and a backyard food garden and grow more food that that 6x6 would normally provide.

Arbors are often used in backyard to divide the space and you will frequently see a plant such as clematis growing over one, well how about using scarlet runner beans instead or peas.

You may be growing a climbing rose over that trellis along the fence but what about an apple tree or cucumbers? There is a technique that enables the grower to make use of flat surface such as a fence to grow fruit among other things.

This technique is called espalier; an espalier (pronounced "es-PAL-yer") is any plant trained to grow in a flat plane against a wall, fence, or trellis. The word espalier also may be used to describe the technique of training a plant to this flat plane.

However, let’s take a walk out front. The front yard is a very different place than the backyard. You rarely see family BBQs on the front lawn, sure the kids may roam there and maybe the cat but the front yard is usually the show place; the attraction that established your house as being acceptable, as belonging to a decent, respectable neighbourhood.

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Of course, let us not forget the curb appeal. The front yard is what visitors see when the first arrive at yoru home and first impressions are strong impressions, they will carry on well past the front door.

What are people going to think when they drive up or walk by and see broccoli, cabbage, carrots and peas growing on your front lawn?

Well do you care? If you are not selling the house, is curb appeal a worry? If you are not violating any municipal bylaws and please do check, who cares?

Now when it comes to growing food on the front lawn, you may find that you can best remain on friendly terms with the neighbours if you employ edible flowers and herbs with the tomatoes on your front lawn rather than cabbage and brussel sprouts; you may also find that you have a better change of not breaking any city bylaws if you use ornamental containers for the tomatoes rather than planting them in the ground.

The front yard is also a great place for a small fruit orchard, 3-4 apple trees or whatever fruit will grow where you live, can supplement you larder and look great as well. Chances are fruit trees do not violate city bylaws but check before planting.

If you do decide to grow food in the front yard, there are three things you can do to reduce the resistance to yoru ambition.

One: check city bylaws.

Two: make a detailed plan.

Three: let your neighbours know what you are doing. Be sure to show them your plan.

These three steps will go a long way to getting them on your side and they will worry less that you have lost it or are using illegal substances. Who knows you may step out onto your front porch one fine morning and find that your neighbours are approaching you and asking questions about how they can do the same and before you know it you are a trend setter and every house on the block has cut back on the waste that is the urban lawn and is growing food rather than battling weeds and cutting grass.

edible landscape

eat the view

  • Eat the View!
    Eat View campaign plant healthy, edible landscapes high-impact, high-visibility places.


Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 26, 2008:


GabrielleGuichard from Antofagasta (Chile) on June 26, 2008:

The desert of Atacama begins right at the end of my street in Antofagasta. The idea of eating the view is made with the same stuff as dreams. I like it.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 26, 2008:

Thanks and yes i am serious some cities have bylaws that control what you can grow, usually height restrictions, for example, on your own property.

Shadesbreath from California on June 26, 2008:

Are you serious? There are rules against growing fruit or vegetables in your front yard? I think I might be pissed to know that even though I've never really thought about doing it before. I mean, I don't really want my neighbors to have corn rows in front of their house, but, I mean, what happens to freedom if we tell people they can't? Sheesh.

Another interesting hub. Actually makes me want to tear up some of that crap in the back yard again. We grew cherry tomatoes one year for an project one of my kids had. Man, those things were sweet as candy (put em in the fridge, eat em cold... Mmmm).

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 26, 2008:

a win-win scenario.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 26, 2008:

A friend of mine once plowed up the front and back yards and planted flowers and vegetables over all of it. No more mowing and he had plenty to eat. Now he saves money on gas for the mower he no longer owns. lol

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 26, 2008:

Thanks, I will.

C.J. King from Southeast on June 26, 2008:

Too funny Bob lol.

Keep it coming :-)


Tony Sky from London UK on June 25, 2008:

lmao Bob!! that was funny!! then again, many a true word said in jest!!? If so, whats the best hot sauce!? lol

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 25, 2008:

Thanks, nails need the right hot sauce. :)

Tony Sky from London UK on June 25, 2008:

Excellent article and interesting comments Bob! This sounds like the way i would love to go but here in London its like a concrete jungle at my location and the only thing i can and have successfully grown is my hair and nails! I did used to eat my nails along time ago but i doubt this counts!;)

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 25, 2008:

Goats are good lawn cutters but you still have a lawn to cut.

rmr from Livonia, MI on June 25, 2008:

Excellent advice, Bob! I'd much rather harvest my lawn, than mow it! I thought about putting a goat out front to keep the grass at bay, but this sounds much better!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 25, 2008:

well done, squash flowers are also tasty deep-fried, for example

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on June 25, 2008:

Enjoyed your hub. I like flowers and veggies so I grow them both in the same beds. I have a border of squash plants, which BTW, have lovely big yellow flowers, in among the perennials are peppers, eggplant, a collard plant (I've been eating off one collard plant for two years!) and various herbs. So, I have my cake and eat it, too.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 25, 2008:


mcarolyn from Philippines on June 24, 2008:

Nice hub! Nowadays its rare to find a native plant. We can only found it in the province area..

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 24, 2008:

Thanks Priceless,

Priceless Sam on June 24, 2008:

Wow! This is a great hub! I love the idea of just being able to walk outside and get fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. It seems lovely to grow your own foods - plus, there is the safety issue. If you grow them, you know what was put on them. Thanks for the information Bob. I will definitely be back for more of your hubs!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 24, 2008:

Thanks eileen, I agree work with native plants when you can.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on June 24, 2008:

Thanks for that bob, you reminded me of a friend years ago that would not plant flowers. He said they were weeds. If you cannot eat it dont plant it. Everything else was a waste.

I agree with mixing flowers and veg. We often planted tomatoes amongst the flowers and mixed the silver beet (or spinich amongst it) Great idea with getting rid of lawn. If cannot plant vegies, then why not dig up lawn and make it all native. Then sneak a few vegs inbetween. Great hub thats for sure. It conjures up al sort of different ideas.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 24, 2008:

Thanks, sheryl c, growing your own makes a major difference in quality.

sheryl c from canton ohio on June 24, 2008:

Great hub Bob yes we grow our own tomatoes and we know they are not contaminated as flowers and such if everyone thought as you we would't have to buy any thing that is not good for us.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 24, 2008:

Patnet , you garden sounds ideal and gjcody, thank you.

GJCody from Pittsburgh on June 24, 2008:

I am using my yard to grow thing ...I have done this for years. I am a country gal ...I would rather see a tomato plant instead of a flower. But to eat the flowers that is something I have not thought of. Of course we can. I knew that and did not ever think of it as I was so worried about getting the vegetables going. Thank you for sharing ...My best to you and your health!

Patnet from San Diego Area on June 23, 2008:

Good reminder to all thoses who forgot they can simply redesign their front and backyards to incorporate edible plants, fruit and veggies. I live on a property where grapevines were planted over an arbor and they provide shade as well as grapes in the not too distant furture.

There's a beautiful mixed garden here with veggies and flowers growing right next to each other. Poppys, Yellow Iris, Zucchini, Peppers, Sunflowers, etc. Eating the fruit of your labor with no pesticides or Salmonella!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 23, 2008:

You are both welcome. Hopefully the clock will turn back.

mulder from Warnbro Western Australia on June 23, 2008:

great hub thanks Bob

Yankee Gardener from Maine on June 23, 2008:

I have my wife reading this. I started out 30 years ago before I met her with next to no lawn and a huge garden. Now it is the other way around. Maybe this will turn back the clock. Thanks Bob.

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 23, 2008:

Thanks for all the kind words, and yes the petunias are espalier-ing . :)

Adelaida Kate from Small Town, America on June 23, 2008:

Funny, my husband said that a few years ago more or less and at first I thought he was too much. I have changed since then and could not agree more. Thanks for the tips and ideas...

DJ Funktual from One Nation Under a Groove on June 23, 2008:

That was really great Bob. A whole new perspective for me personally.

marisuewrites from USA on June 23, 2008:

I'm convinced! And, frankly, I think we're going to need the food space. Edible views are speaking to me. I LIKE it. Course I've been friends of tomatoes and veggies for a long time. I'm training my container petnuias as we speak and thanks for giving me the word for it! We are winding them around a big branch for height. If they grow up it are they espalier-ing?

I love this "out of the grass" thinking! Thanks, Bob!

kerryg from USA on June 23, 2008:

Tons of great ideas here!

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 23, 2008:

funride, you are ahead of your time. :), thanks for comments.

dutch84 on June 23, 2008:

I'm linking you to my hub:

Ricardo Nunes from Portugal on June 23, 2008:

Thanks, finally I understand why all my neighbors have lawns LOL. And I´m glad I don´t have lawn around my house in fact I hate lawns (I always thought the lawns were there for my neighbors` lunch LOL). Now seriously, I loved the "Eating the view" concept and I have been doing it without thinking about it :D

Bob Ewing (author) from New Brunswick on June 23, 2008:

Creeping thyme can be used as a ground cover for example

Christopher James Stone from Whitstable, UK on June 23, 2008:

I like that: Eat the View. But can't you grow herb lawns as well?

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