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melandrew_gw

Don't like the look of edible landscaping/ lawn alternatives?

melandrew
14 years ago

Hi all. My name is Melinda Fulmer and I write for MSN. I'm doing a story about alternatives to the front lawn, including edible landcaping, mini-orchards, courtyards and cottage gardens etc. I can't seem to find a single person who doesn't like the idea. And I know that can't be the case. Does anyone out there have ideas about how these things are done well and done badly? Does anyone know of any horrendous examples? My deadline is this weekend.

Thanks

Melinda

Comments (26)

  • laag
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Everyone likes the idea. Many will then fixate on the idea and will not see the forest through the trees when it comes to how they look as a composition. More of these look bad than look good in my opinion. But if you are more fixated on the idea of the edibles and saving the planet it will blind you into thinking it looks good.

    Many tend to lack unity in my opinion. Part of this is because they usually infill a complete area that lacks definition. Part of it is because the plants are often selected with the primary objective of being what they produce rather than how they function as a composition. Much of the time these are done by people who are more schooled in the idea of getting rid of grass and planting edibles that are schooled or experienced in planting composition (let alone landscape design).

    You must be seeing lots of pictures or actual sites as you research this. What do you see when you look at them? Surely, you must have your own thoughts as well as those given to you by others.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with the idea. But, I do believe that it presents a number of additional limitations on a designer and introduces other circumstances that need to be overcome. It is always more difficult to do things, whether it has to do with this or any other set of factors, that reduce your "design toolbox". Fewer people will be able to design well under these limiting circumstances. Certainly, some will make wonderful landscapes with them, but liking the idea and embracing it does not equate with actually producing a good looking composition.

    Loving the the overall concept is a value on its own which is separate from the value of good composition. We all, as human beings in any circumstance, balance our values differently. If you value the concept much more than you value good composition, it will look wonderfull. If you place more value toward composition, the joy of the concept will not overcome a composition that is lacking.

    What I don't like is the growing universal acceptance that all lawn is bad all of the time which is the driving force behind this more often than not. Certainly, there are places where lawns are extremely burdensome on the water resources. Certainly there are people who over fertilize and introduce excessive nutrients into surface and ground water. In those areas they should be avoided. In other areas it is not necessarily the case.

    Lawns can be a very valuable assett when people are not over fertilizing or over burdening the local water resources. First, they hold soil in place rather than letting it runoff or blow away. Secondly, it provides usable open space as oposed to paved spaces which produce excessive runoff. Third, it slows runoff down and gives the soil more time to absorb it rather than running off and/or causing erosion. Fourth, its ability to absorb excessive nutrients from sources other than those put down to feed it makes it a valuable resource for removing those very nutrients that more and more people are seeming to think are produced by grass.

  • timbu
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    One question I seldom see addressed is that of pollution from the road - and what effect it might have on an edible landscape.
    Another is the transition with the neighboring lawns. Here's a confession - having planted some "hell strips" for friends in the Twin Cities, I now realize they will look out of place until the neighbors replace their lawns with gardens. I think the main reason behind these undertakings was fashion, not water conservation.
    That fashion hasn't caught on much here - if alternatives to lawns are sought, it's mostly to alleviate boredom, I guess...

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  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think you will find more issues associated with designing an "edible landscape" as a front lawn replacement than with most other lawn alternative approaches. While I personally think edible landscaping is a great idea, the seasonality of such a type of planting and the necessary haresting/replanting processes associated with it make it very difficult to maintain a high aesthetic value. These are even tough to pull off well as potagers or the more typical ornamental/kitchen garden that is more often not open to public view.

    In areas where water resources, especially in summer, are a continuing issue and in more urban areas where front yards are tiny, lawn-less front gardens are very common and even the accepted norm. At least here on the west coast :-)) I am asked to design many lawn-less front or entry gardens and teach classes on lawn alternative plantings. And there are many extremely well done examples with a combination of primarily paving and mostly evergreen, all season and relatively drought tolerant plantings and groundcovers.

    But as with all landscaping situations, there are the good and the bad and the out of context. In addition to the edible landscaped front garden, I think cottage gardens are also difficult to pull off with uniform success. Perhaps it's my own personal aesthetic that an entry garden should present a tidy and well-groomed appearance at all times to greet passers-by or visitors and both of these styles tend to have an inherent messiness to them that makes them less effective than a more formal courtyard or even the local informal courtyard, no-lawn approach.

  • rhodium
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    More facts are that the average homeowner's garden knowledge base is only limited to the care of lawn grass. Ask the average person on the street to provide the Latin name of any plant, yet how to cultivate that plant.

    Further, a lawn is the cheapest landscape available, and very attractive if well maintained. For less than $100 you can plant several thousand square feet, and the care of that area is as simple as watering and pushing a mower.

    Instead of eco-extremism, and doing away with all lawns, how that lawn is maintained can be optimized to be environmentaly friendly. Avoidance of pesticides and herbicides is a start... learn to love an occasional dandelion,clover, and grub. Plant grasses suited to the rainfall amounts in your part of the country.

  • karinl
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    And then there is the issue of seasons. Seems obvious, but lawns evolved because they have several advantages, including the fact that they look good pretty much all the time. Even when brown or covered in snow, they are smooth and tidy/calm looking.

    Most of the alternatives you'll see in pictures are photographed in their best season. I think there oughta be a law in garden photography that you photograph a patch in all seasons if you publish any photos of it at all. Especially cottage gardens!

    Issues mentioned above are excellent. Any alternative to a lawn requires more money, knowledge, initial work, and maintenance, and creates boundary issues. Edible landscapes represent the extreme of all of these (except perhaps money).

    If there is a continuum of what works best/works least, it would involve going from lots of hardscape to just lots of plants. The more hardscape, the more static the installation, the less work/money etc required.

    KarinL

  • barefootinct
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Excuse me, but I'm a little confused. Isn't the term "edible landscape" just a fancy word for what has happened in our home gardens since the beginning of time. Most people who garden have some berry bushes (blueberry bushes are lovely), fruit trees, herbs here and there, and often a real vegetable garden. I plant chives for looks, but I've been known to snip of a few for a dish. I like to include swiss chard in with other annuals and perennials because it's gorgeous, easy to grow, and it tastes good!

    I think it would be odd if one's entire landscape was edible...think of the problem with rabbits, squirrels, deer, and so forth! But enhancing one's home with plants that give food as well as aesthetic beauty is an idea that is as old as the hills.

  • karinl
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Sorry Gardengal did mention seasonality first. Not reading carefully enough!

  • Embothrium
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Here in the land of 60 percent rental occupancy and less than one inch rainfall totals for July many (most?) residential lawns are allowed to dry up in summer, as is natural for turfgrasses which would go to seed at that time if not mowed. You have to pour on copious amounts of water to prevent them from doing this, in effect extending spring through the whole summer and into fall. The result is miles of sere, heat-reflecting hellholes around local dwellings each year - hardly a satisfactory yearround effect.

    Grass is built in work. It has to be mowed weekly for most of the year. It needs watering if it is to stay green through the summer. It requires fertilizer and eventually thatching, not to mention weeding.

    Save water and work by planting only the smallest area of grass that you think you need. For many people, that is none at all. For those who need a sweep of neat, low greenery, there are many groundcovers that will work

    Here is a link that might be useful: The Easy Garden

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Although I'm not on any crusade to convert the entire continent to a lawnless front garden, I do think it is important to consider all the ramifications of America's love affair with turf grass. The research I have undertaken to support my classes and seminars (plus my own experience as a landscape professional) contradicts the notion that any lawn alternative requires more maintenance, more knowledge, more cost and more initial work than installing/maintaining a lawn. In many - perhaps even most cases - this is simply not true. Lawns tend to require more maintenance to keep in prime (or even average) condition than just about any other ornamental planting and that maintenance involves huge amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (organic lawn care is NOT widely practiced in many areas of the country), routine use of emission producing power equipment, time and effort on a weekly basis in season and a lot of water, usually applied excessively and incorrectly. Few other plants consume as many products and resources and when considered in total, the numbers and dollars are staggering. I don't happen to have the statistics immediately at hand, but I'd be happy to dig them out if anyone is interested.

    OTOH, planting an area with a drought tolerant groundcover requires little more, if any, effort than planting and establishing a lawn and actually less knowledge on the part of the homeowner if he/she is doing the planting -correctly creating a good seedbed and seeding/sodding a lawn is quite a bit more detailed and complicated than the majority of other planting techniques. And once established, a grouncover planting requires virtually no maintenance in most cases. Bumping up the scope of things in terms of expanded hardscaping and more complicated plant selection may cost more upfront, but quickly equalizes out and actually costs less over the long run when considering the expense the typical homeowner devotes annually to his/her lawn.

    It is a serious underestimation to think that lawns are low maintenance compared to other gardening chores and are easier and less expensive both to plant, establish and maintain than any other type of planting/landscape design. The facts just don't support it.

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    This very much depends on where you are. In most the northeast, lawn care is getting out the mower and maybe spreading some fertilizer every other year or so. Rodale, which is based in eastern Pennsylvania, has done studies that prove you can very easily keep a lawn in this climate without any extra additives besides proper mowing.

    Once you stop mowing an area, the weeds come in. Maples, red cedar, poison ivy, Virginia creeper, invasive honeysuckle, sumac, oaks, ashes - all of which have to be hand pulled. So replacing lawn with groundcover does create a lot more maintenance, and maintenance that's a lot harder to farm out.

  • Embothrium
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Groundcovers vary in effectiveness, I don't buy that groundcover = weed nightmare. Excluding weeds is much of the point of carpeting the ground with plants rather than having a tombstone planting with exposed soil between solitary specimens. Of course if a site is being inundated by Japanese honeysuckle or kudzu it will have a different situation than one that is not.

  • isabella__MA
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I have been on both sides of this issue. I'm not an "eco-extremist", but just concerned about wildlife and reducing impacts to the environment. At first I was for lawn-reduction, because I wanted less maintenace issues. Here in the NE, during cool season, it is not uncommon to mow twice a week to keep the grass neat and proper. The gas-engine rotary mower was heavy and loud, and it took about an hour to mow the lot.

    To reduce this burden, I looked at the functional areas of the lawn and determined those areas I would never use for lawn recreation or ever want to walk around in. Those areas were turned over to other functions, gazebo, pathways, and shrub beds. This did result in less watering, as shrubs and trees are self-sufficient, except during severe drought. As I learned more horticultural practices I turned over more of the lawn to gardens.

    Now I miss some of the lawn areas, because the open space is now at a premium. I have non-lawn groundcovers that I use as living mulch, but I don't consider those areas as open space like lawn. Nobody likes to walk through vinca minor or other low shrubs, because it's perceived as a garden-space and harmful to the plants, and it's not inviting like grass.

    I will be keeping what grass I have left mainly for functionality and design purposes... the negative space thing. To reduce my carbon footprint while maintaining this grass I use a manual reel mower, which I love because it is quiet, recycles grass clippings, and zero-emissions.

  • laag
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Nature has a little thing called succession. It does not stay the same. One thing succeeds the next. If you want to hold something in a certain state, it will either have to be the climaxed succession, or it will require maintenance.

    Despite that many bloggers are trying to convince the world that lawn is some whacked out suburban competition that started after WWII, it is a result of form following function. And no, the function is not to graze sheep.

    Lawns were a cheap and efficient way to hold open space with a surface that allowed multiple uses. It was and is cheaper than pavement to install. It provides a more versatile surface than pavement (especially for playing).

    If you want to reserve open space with a usable surface, mowing was and is a very efficient way of holding a natural that state of succession that has become known as a lawn.

    Either we as a society are deciding that we no longer need a usable outdoor open space for multiple use, or we are switching to paved surfaces. Gardengal mentions paved surfaces as part of this lawnless trend.

    The practice of having edible plants is not new. The only part that is new is displacing the lawn.

    I think a far better and more interesting article would be to find out what people are doing in their yards these days. What are the outdoor functions in the lifestyles of people? Surely are other activities people would like to do out of doors in their own yards besides gardening. One can certainly garden and still reserve part of his property for other activities. What are these activities? What surface do they require? Are all activities one wishes to do feasible on paved or artificial surfaces or within a garden?

    The irony, it seems to me, is that the outdoor lifestyle of the people who go lawnless will all be required to take place on pavement or some other type of artificial surface other than tending to their gardens.

    I don't see living on decks, driveways, and patios a more natural lifestyle. What would be left of your childhood if you took away everything you did on grass (insert Cheech & Chong joke here)?

    A lawn does not have to be deep green, over watered, and over fertilized in order to be an important functional part of your quality of life. You might as well move into an urban area and have potted plants on your patio and driveway because other than looking out of the window at the woods, you won't have anything more that you could do with on your property than you could in the city.

    If there were no lawns, would the idea of having a living permeable pavement where you could enjoy many activities sound like a more negative thing for the environment and a less natural lifestyle than playing on your deck or patio? How could anyone answer that any other way, but "NO!"?

    Who is actually thinking this through?

    Spend the month of May staying off of any grassed surface and see what a great lifestyle it is. You'll be saving the environment.

    How many people are going to be bragging to their neighbors about how green they are because they got rid of the evil lawn as they pick up their kids who have to go to that neighbors yard to play outdoors? Kind of funny when you really think about it.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think we might be getting a bit far removed from the topic of the proposed article - the pros/cons of a lawnless front garden. Niether the article nor any of the responders was necessarily advocating the removal of lawn from ALL areas of the garden or even any other areas of the garden.......just the front.

    And in many areas, this practice is fairly common and does make a great deal of sense. Does a Georgetown brownstone, an Orange County townhome or a Tucson rambler have to have a front lawn? If your front yard is only 15-20' deep and the variable width of your property and a big chunk is already taken up with the ubiquitous driveway (typically double sized with recent construction to accommodate at least two vehicles) and the necessary paved surfaces for entry access, does a postage stamp sized lawn really make design sense? Does it have to exist just because our common gardening tradition has made it expected?

    I realize this does not apply uniformily to all areas of the country and to all situations - as in all things design, it is the context that provides relevance. And for those of you in the midwest or in established suburban areas of the east coast or the south where expansive front gardens tend to be more common, this may be may still be too much of a stretch to imagine. But here in the very urbanized areas of the west coast or the hot, droughty southwest and where new developments spring up overnight and each offers smaller and smaller lot sizes than the one just completed up the street, there is considerable relevance and interest in this practice. And how well it is approached and handled is a continuing landscape design challenge.

    And yes laag, there are indeed areas and housing developments where private lawns are virtually non-existant and all outdoor living activities ARE restricted to a deck or paved patio and touch football games, kid's tag and tossing the ball for the dog is relegated to a common, centralized lawn area or the park down the street. Or the road. I think we all need to get our heads around the fact that not all homeowners are going to continue to have the luxury of a traditional 1/4 acre suburban lot - townhomes and zero lotline construction are becoming more and more popular as populations increase, real estate, construction and home purchase costs escalate and high density but privately owned housing becomes the norm.

    Here's a prime example for you - I just visited a recent design client to view a completed installation. His is a new construction, high density, setbacks-only lot. The front yard ranges from 8-13' deep and half the area is consumed by a double width driveway. And is rather steeply sloped. The back yard is 10' deep and abuts a concrete retaining wall supporting similar homes on the street behind. Because he is on a corner lot, he has the luxury of a 12' deep side yard along the street but only a 5' width on the side adjoining his neighbor's property. Yes, the entire development is coyote-ugly with relatively monstrous two story houses on tiny little lots and your neighbors breathing down your neck, but his choice - he OWNS his own home. And this is not an uncommon situation in some new developments. So you tell me how and where a lawn makes aesthetic or even practical sense in this case.

    Just because THE LAWN has become a western landscaping tradition for whatever reason does not mean that it must remain planted ('scuse the pun) in our collective design psyche at all costs. Purpose, resources and practicality should prevail.

  • trancegemini_wa
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I just wanted to put my 2c worth in because this has been such an interesting discussion. I do agree that it depends on your climate and if you can grow a lawn without huge amounts of additional watering because your climate allows it, then large areas of lawn may be a practical part of your garden.

    where I live, (a situation many others share), we have had a water shortage for around 8 years now, water has become very precious and expensive to use and most people now realise that front lawns are very impractical in our climate. while most people would tell you that a lush green lawn is aesthetically pleasing there just isnt enough water to go around and allow that to happen. many people have simply allowed their front lawn areas to die off and if they hadn't, our water situation would be much worse than it is.

    The problem is, there isn't much information out there on what to do instead, all those dead areas look terrible and are interspersed with glowing green lawns that the diehards won't let go of. economically, most people don't have the money to grow a lush green lawn anymore or the desire to use that much water and the people who do haven't questioned the logic of it in our climate. It's a stalemate.

    I wish there were people in Australia where i live promoting these alternative ideas to give us gardeners something to work with and I really commend your work gardengal, I only wish I could attend one of your classes.

    I also think using terms like eco-extremist is really counterproductive, lawns look lovely and welcoming no one could deny that, but many people now need ideas and help on how to replace these unused areas for something that will fit with current circumstances.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Frankly, the thought of eating anything that my dogs pee on grosses me out. And with two terriers, one a male, most things get watered. Of course, wild animals come through at night, but at least I don't see them. And I am well aware of the horror stories of what I buy at the grocery store, but again, out of sight, out of mind.

  • mohavemaria
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Well said gardengal. Lawns are wonderful things but just not practical in many situations especially dry areas like the southwest. trancegemeni - I am suprised with the many great drought tolerant, beautiful australian plants that there aren't more lawn alternative resources for you. Here we use acacia redolens and myoporum parvifolium both australian natives as very low water use, heat tolerant groundcovers. You can't play football on them but they look wonderful.

    Excuse the drip lines, when we change the gravel they'll be buried but here is very drought tolerant evergreen myoporum parvifolium.
    {{gwi:31838}}
    Maria

  • trancegemini_wa
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    hi maria, it surprises me too, the emphasis over here has really been on reducing lawn areas and using drought tolerant shrubs in the garden, but lawn alternatives have largely been ignored and I dont understand why because sometimes you just need something low and matting in some places.

    I love that picture you posted, it's amazing you can get anything to grow there. is that the fine leaf myoporum? would it be suitable for right out on a street front where people need to walk across it? (there's no sidewalk in my street so I'm looking for something low enough that people could walk across without too much discomfort). If I had a sidewalk it would be so much easier to find something suitable!

  • isabella__MA
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I am lawnless in my front-yard. I don't have irrigation installed, so I was watering with hoes and oscillating sprinkler. Watering the road was too much for me to bear watching. It made sense to me to put in drought tolerant groundcover (vinca minor)and sbrubs. Vinca can take some occasional traffic.

    In the backyard, in my life before kids, I got rid of all the grass and installed creeping charlie. Not a native, but it grows in shade, is low, and can take salt burning....
    The only downfall was it is not evergreen, so every spring the canine unit would track in mud. The creeping charlie, despite its invasive/aggressive reputation was slow to fill in and repair itself. Without other plants for support, the CC, was not very good at holding itself up.

    It was nice experiment, but it was eventually buried under a foot of sand, when the swing set was built.

  • mohavemaria
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Trancegemini- the myoporum in the pic is the 'normal' larger leaved kind which I like because so many plants that do good here are very fine leaved. We also have the dwarf kind and it is slower to spread and lower but still very nice and probably more suitable for occasional foot traffic as the larger leaved one has woody centers that can be damaged if stepped on and it's hard to tell where the middle is once it's filled in an area.

    We also grew a small patch of buffalo grass to see how it did and it was surprisingly drought tolerant. Once a week watering even in the 110 F. plus weather kept it looking good but it might be hard for you to get there as it is native to the US. Interesting how xeriscaping is being encouraged in more and more places here in the States and around the world.

    Maria

  • laag
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Everyone seems to look at the above picture and admire the thriving plants, but seem not to see that most of the area is bare soil. Will it remain that way or what additional planting will be required to finish this off and stabilize the site?

    I'm not familiar with that area of the country, but it seems that stabilizing the surface is really not a big deal due to lack of erosive forces and growth rate of invasive weeds. It would be very impractical to use a lawn there. It is an alien to that environment.

    In much of the country, grass is a normal naturally occuring part of the ecosystem - not monoculture turfs, but grassy fields.

    I think it is possible that people from arid regions may not appreciate what happens when soil is left exposed to the elements in the not so arid regions. Stabilizing soil is a high priority for the protection of the environment. It needs to be covered to keep it from eroding. In these regions you need pretty close to complete coverage or you will have erosion.

    That means having small patches of groundcover or spotty shrub plantings is not going to get the job done. You could have large areas of mulch, but this is subject to erosion and weed growth. The weed growth reintroduces "high maintenance" and the possibility of pesticide use. You have to plant the whole thing or mother nature will be working on that for you as she also tries to erode it away.

    Lawnless in non-arid areas has to overcome erosion by having some kind of surface that resists it. That can be trees, shrubs, herbacious plants, groundcover, pavement, or mulch (mulch will have the least resistance to erosion). It has to succumb to or overcome mother natures desire to reclaim it with a succession of weeds and grasses to thicket and eventually a forest.

    Going lawnless is fine, but you have to know that in most of the country it is not a matter of removing grass and planting a few drought tolerant plants. Most of the attempts that I see are done by well meaning people who do not complete the job in stabilizing the soil - I'm not even going to go into aesthetics. The result is usually spotty plantings and wood chips everywhere (the well meaning folks who tend to go lawnless tend to like to recycle wood chips as well).

    If you are going to do it, think it through and make a commitment to an end result. Don't remove the grass and then try to figure it out later. There is a sizable investment of time and money to do this up here in the northeast.

    I suppose wood chips might make some feel that they have recycled and removed lawn at the same time and they can sleep better at night.

    Again, is matching what you value to the conditions of the site. Don't under estimate Mother Nature. She won't treat you any differently just because you have her best interests in mind.

  • linda_daisy
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Clover! I am slowly converting my back yard into clover. Sure it drys up in the summer but comes back again as soon as it rains. I live in mostly a sandy clay place without much soil. Linda in NC

  • mjsee
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Also--much depends on what one means by "lawn." If one means a mono-culture greensward of fescue...that's a fair amount of water and maintenance. (At least it is here in NC.) If, however, one adopts the mantra "If it's green I mow it" then one can have a drought tolerant "lawn" that goes dormant when it's hot, and greens up again after it rains. Clover is a welcome part of my front lawn. In fact, the only things I can think of that I uproot without mercy are Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass), nutsedge, and crown vetch.

  • lpinkmountain
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Back to edible landscaping, cottage gardens, etc. in the front yard. These are high maintanance. I have a tiny space since I love to garden and eat what I grow, I have to TRY and make use of every inch. Edible landscaping has been mostly a bust for me. A lot of edible plants are just too high maintenance to do well in a tight urban spot. Even what I thought was a success story--my raspberry hedge to cover a fence--is sucumbing to pests and verticillium wilt, don't know which came first. I might have to rip it all out. No tomatoes this year due to wilt too. Apple tree all scabby.

    A few things work on a small scale. My neighbor has an OK small grape arbor, but it vectors japanese beetles which are now spreading to my yard. Herbs do well.

    Two years ago, when I planted tomatoes in pots along my front steps, squirrels grabbed them and took them onto my neighbors porches to eat, leaving messes. They also cut off and dragged my sunflower blossoms all over, they diemboweled the sunflowers in my neighbors yards, leaving more messes. Needless to say I don't grow sunflowers any more.

    Edible plants are great if you love to tend them, but they are not easy care. I wouldn't want to eat much of what came off of my front yard either, because of the people walking by and their dogs, what they do--cigarette buts, spit, shoe dirt, dog droppings and hair, street pollution, etc.

    One of my neighbors seems to do OK with a small tomato patch in the middle of his grassless lawn. He has a mixture of stone, brick and decorative plantings around it. I guess it's not too much of a problem with dogs for him, perhaps because it is set back a bit. Don't know about the squirrels!!

    But our front lawns are all tiny--this is an urban, row house neighborhood. Out in suburbia, one could easily support a small orchard on some lots, my friend does. Still, it's high maintenance. He likes having the fruit though, so it is worth it to him. BTW, he says birds drop his cherries on his neighbors patios!

  • Embothrium
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Not all edible and useful plants are built-up varieties that require extra care or protection - just as do built-up ornamentals like large-flowered roses. In fact, the jumbo tomatoes, head lettuces and orchard apples - the supermarket produce - is the minority of kinds that can be grown for culinary or other non-ornamental use. And within the commercially important, familiar types there is wide variation in regional performance, including pest and disease resistance - if you don't pick the right ones for your area you can easily have results like the scabby apples you mentioned.

  • lpinkmountain
    14 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I hate to tell you this, but I did plant resistant varieties, to scab and wilt. Resistant doesn't mean immune. Living in the land of cedars like it does, it's going to have to deal with it. Plants in a tight urban environment have so many stressors to deal with, and crammed in together, crud can spread from yard to yard easily. That's why I'm saying there are limits to edible landscaping. I'm pushing it and I am a person who likes to garden and fuss with plants, so if you don't, a person could easily be surprised by many unforseen problems with that kind of landscaping. I'm not saying that there aren't some things that you can do in ANY situation. I'm not saying don't try. The original poster wanted the downside.