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Hoes Replacing Lawn Mowers as Favorite Tools for Front Yard

Maybe it's the water restrictions.  Maybe it's the shaky economy. Dotted through our neighborhood are houses where lawns have been replaced by vegetable gardens.

According to Time magazine, the trend was sowed in the summer of 2005 by Los Angeles architect Fritz Haeg. He saw the manicured front lawn as an American icon that cut across politics, social classes and economics.  But he also saw it as out of date.



Vegetable gardening is certainly not new.  The Victory Gardens of World War II were encouraged to relieve pressure on scarce food resources. In 1943, about a year after the campaign began, Americans had planted 20.5 million Victory Gardens, which produced a third of all the vegetables eaten in America that year.

What's different about the food gardens I've been seeing lately is:
  • They are planted in the front yard rather than being hidden in the back yard
  • They often replace the traditional lawn
  • The layout of these gardens is often more ornamental than farm like. The plants become objects d'art or sculpture.
There are many blogs or books such as Nan Chase's Eat Your Yard: Edible Trees, Shrubs, Vines, Herbs and Flowers for Your Landscape, that explain how to make the transition. It's really not that complex.

I once tried to make a map of the areas where I walk my dog noting which had fruit trees or herb bushes for urban foraging. It was a good reminder to watch for the changing seasons and the places where fruit was going to waste because no one was harvesting it.

Perhaps my next challenge should be the edible balcony garden.

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