Poll: Do Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens Offend You?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/25/2012 6:00 AM   :  503 comments   :  33,702 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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  • 503
    I totally think front lawn gardens are a great idea!!! I live in an apartment, but that doesnt stop my from gardening! I have a decent sized patio that i container garden my veggies on in the summer, I get so many coments from my neighbors who I share produce with, about how vibrant and well kept my plants are! It's 29 degrees and snowing and still inside I have a veggie garden! I have a beautiful tomato plant I grew from seed, spinach, garlic, bell peppers, chilies and herbs! - 11/24/2015   9:35:02 PM
  • 502
    I think it is a great idea. It is your yard and you pay property taxes you can plant anything you want. I heard awhile ago, somewhere people planted vegetables out in front of their property and people were able to avail themselves of fresh vegetables and fruit. HOA in my opinion are busy bodies and should not be. Sorry to those who like them. - 11/24/2015   6:36:37 PM
  • 501
    I am much more offended by the neighbors who are offended than I could ever be by vegetables. We get ourselves so caught up in irrelevant, made-up priorities that we lose sight of real life. Food gardens are real life. "Lawns" are... what? - 11/24/2015   11:55:17 AM
  • 500
    My yard, my business. They don't seem to bother those people whose yard looks like a pigsty. - 11/24/2015   11:07:03 AM
  • 499
    Offended by someones garden?
    These people need a job. Go out and voulnteer somewhere.
    Not everyone has the money to buy organic food.
    Some of us grow it ourselves.
    - 11/24/2015   10:40:44 AM
    I think it is a wonderful idea and very pretty also. If it is your yard you should be able to do it. - 11/24/2015   10:37:55 AM
  • 497
    No. Food not lawns! - 11/24/2015   10:13:06 AM
  • 496
    And you live in a 'free' country! - 11/24/2015   1:25:45 AM
  • 495
    I live in a condo and use flower boxes for my herbs and greens. I think front yard planting is fine - as long as it's your yard. That space between the sidewalk and the road usually belongs to the city, and they usually don't appreciate that. Sometimes they have a "public garden" space for people who want to grow foods without space. Another woman also mentioned pets, and I've seen people put up signs on their lawn asking people to respect the food they are growing. - 8/22/2015   4:52:05 PM
  • 494
    I grew pole beans on a wire trellis to shade my windows and sweet potato vines in my flower beds and had strangers knocking on my door wanting to know where they could get starts or asking what kind of plants they were. - 8/13/2015   9:49:14 PM
  • 493
    . - 8/13/2015   9:48:50 AM
  • 492
    I think it's a great idea. People that would have weedy gardens probably wouldn't have well kept yards either! Go for it! (I say all that when I live in the country on 2 1/2 acres and have a huge garden in the back yard that butts up to two other neighbors.)

    It might be a problem in communities that have the grass between the sidewalk and road. In my son's community, that's the area to walk your dog. I would be concerned growing food where dogs would water it! - 8/13/2015   9:48:06 AM
  • 491
    not at all I think i's good idea to grow veggies any where you can. - 7/23/2015   4:06:30 AM
  • 490
    I'd rather see vegetables than dandelions and weeds. If people want to plant vegetables in their front yard, good for them! - 7/22/2015   8:55:41 PM
  • 489
    The sort of people who would complain about vegetables being grown in a yard are baffling to me. What's so wrong with vegetables, and as the OP asked, who's to say what's more attractive - basil or boxwood, cucumbers or chrysanthemums?

    It takes a special kind of arrogance and short-sightedness, not to mention a selfishness that is astounding, to say that growing food is unattractive. - 7/22/2015   2:49:52 PM
  • 488
    No way! They don't offend me at all - we have two families growing beautiful veggies on our street, right in their front yards. I think it's a wonderful way to use what is otherwise wasted earth. - 7/22/2015   2:20:11 PM
  • 487
    I live in a condo in Pte. Claire (suburb of Montreal) and miss my large garden in my former house I sold. I think this is a wonderful idea. Not only is it beautiful, but healthy as well. I cannot believe they will pass a law forbidding front gardens. - 7/22/2015   1:59:01 PM
  • 486
    Wow they do have a beautiful garden! I personally don't see a problem with it as long as they keep it up and don't let it become so overgrown with weeds that it could be considered a blighted property. In our town we don't own a certain amount of our front lawn from the street in a few feet (I'm not sure of the correct lineage) but if that is the case they should not plant on that area because if there is to be any road work don't the town/county/state has the right to dig up that area. Just my 2 cents worth.
    - 7/22/2015   9:19:11 AM
  • 485
    Hi, I live in the UK, so the idea of a HOA seems odd to me. is it just veg that is the problem, or any planting - do you have to have only lawn?

    If not, then old fashioned English kitchen gardens, mixing veg with flowers might be the way forward. After all, there are ornamental cabbages which are also edible, rainbow chard is as pretty as heuchera, and herbs such as thyme and oregano make great ground cover edging where water is scarce. Why confine yourself to lavender?

    Other ideas I've seen include growing sweet peas alongside edible peas - beautiful and scent filled, plus then the supports are ornamental rather than for cultivation! - using tall fennels as feature plants at the back of beds, using marigolds and roses as companion plants to tomatoes and fruit (both marigolds and roses also bring edible). Nasturtiums are pretty, their leaves are spicy for salad, and the pods can be used as capers, while they climb or ground cover beautifully. When you think about it, poppy, sunflower and nigella seeds are frequently used in bread, and they are definitely ornamental flowers.

    The mixed type of garden is definitely harder work, but it is edible and beautiful at the same time, and hopefully people won't then complain. Plus if you sell it as ye olde englishe gardening or a French potager, it has historical interest, too.

    Not sure how strict the garden police are, but thought I'd share these ideas in case they help at all. It sounds so harsh compared to the UK, where in contrast, you can't do much even when your neighbour turns their garden into a rubbish tip ('your home is your castle' not always being a good thing). Wish common sense ruled a little more! - 7/22/2015   7:13:47 AM
    Front yard gardens are great! They're even becoming somewhat of a hype in my country (Holland); people who don't own a garden themselves sometimes take over a patch of the 'public green' to plant herbs and vegetables (it's called 'guerilla gardening'). Problem is sometimes to explain to the community workers, often recruited among the mentally challenged, why those patches shouldn't be mowed down like the rest of the green. - 7/22/2015   12:51:07 AM
  • 483
    I think vegetable gardens are beautiful. I think anyone who thinks otherwise has it all backwards. In the future, we may be fined for NOT growing food to eat on our property. If you are unable, you can have a service come and get some or all of the produce in exchange for their work and materials. - 7/16/2015   5:21:59 AM
  • CLAY10237
    I planted small vegs and various flowers for years in my front yard. I grew tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, mint and tons of flowers. It looked quite nice. My front yard, the property I OWNED. Some of these photos show gardens planted on public property between the curb and sidewalk. Why are these gardeners complaining? If they didn't check with their local government BEFORE planting, then they were just stupid and assuming. - 6/30/2015   6:43:29 PM
  • 481
    I LOVE front yard gardens. I find them inspiring and beautiful. I have a neighbor who has gradually converted her entire front lawn to garden and it's prettier than it was when it was professionally landscaped. I love walking my dog past her yard and seeing her work in the garden, bees and butterflies buzzing all around. - 4/15/2015   5:25:10 PM
  • KMADD30
    I am all for lawn gardens! I would love to see more of the neighborhood victory gardens come back! - 3/2/2015   12:42:00 AM
  • 479
    I think it is a great idea If it is not prohibited by a Home Owners Association rule. I am fortunate that I can use my back yard for my vegetable, berry and herb gardening. One of our across the street neighbor's backyard is shaded by her neighbor's old oaks so she raises her tomatoes in containers on her driveway. Another across the street neighbor grows herbs alongside the walkway going to their front door. I think they're being resourceful and appreciate their desire to be healthy. - 3/1/2015   10:05:21 AM
  • 478
    When you move into a neighborhood with an HOA you accept the terms. If you don't like it, don't live there. If you have an HOA restriction but want veggies, plant a container garden. It's not rocket science. - 2/25/2015   8:32:04 AM
  • 477
    Lawns are a waste of water. - 1/5/2015   12:19:16 PM
  • 476
    Only about 1% of the population grows food for the rest of us and huge corporations control pretty much our entire food supply. it's clear we can't trust corporations to do what's good for us, I mean look at all the crap that's in our "food." We seriously need to learn to take care of ourselves again and that means growing our own food wherever we can. - 12/17/2014   12:54:41 AM
  • 475
    I've recently read that even the Feds are sticking their noses into what we grow in our yards. Their contention is that "home garden plots" violates the Interstate Commerce act and reduces the amount of food needed that is hauled by truckers. I think this is totally bogus, unless maybe you had a 500 acre front yard - but then you would be hiring truckers to take your produce to market because you were a "farmer". My backyard has the best mix of sun and shade for my garden, so the front yard is not a problem for me, besides, it's much smaller. I think that living in the suburbs of Kansas City probably makes this a moot point here, but in the "high society" sections of town it may not be looked on with as much favor.

    For those living in a community governed by an HOA, you might consider a "coup". We lived in a young neighborhood (along with our two young sons). The particular homeowners restriction was that there could not be a basketball goal on the garage nor could a pole be installed in the front yard. The neighborhood had a "recreational area" with two basketball courts (four backboards, hoops and nets), but in the summer time and during the spring and fall, adults had to be there to eliminate the fights that would break out over who had "next". At the annual HOA meeting, a large group of subversives attended and voted for almost all new Board members (who the subversives had planted over the course of the nomination period). Only the President of the board and the Treasurer were retained. At the first "post election' meeting, it was moved that "in the interests of community safety", the article regarding basketball goals be amended to allow "permanently installed poles for the installation of basketball goals would be allowed". The amendment was then amended to allow "permanently installed poles for displaying the American and State flags" allowed. All other flags of any nature were specifically proscribed. We "radicals" controlled the board for three years, but the rule allowing flag poles and basketball poles was not changed in the 10 additional years we continued to live there. It was the only time in my life I have ever been called a "radical leftist". The only person to the right of me is my younger brother. To both of us, Rush is an effete, ineffectual, social conservative clown with very little in the way of intellectual promise. - 12/16/2014   6:07:59 PM
  • 474
    I think it is a wonderful idea and i would do it if my front yard wasn't so small. But i will probably still do something with it. Maybe herbs or something :) - 12/16/2014   2:18:01 PM
  • 473
    I have a front, raised vegetable garden, about 3 x 6 but then, my kitchen is right inside my front door so I consider it a "kitchen garden" :-) We don't live in a covenanted community like that though, our laws are only county laws and our county is a rural, agricultural one so I cannot imagine their passing such an idiot ruling. - 12/16/2014   12:24:51 PM
  • 472
    I live in a semi-agricultural area in Italy, and all my neighbors-except the American renters- have overflowing edibles in the front, back, and side yards. Everyone has gates around their homes, but otherwise not a lot of privacy, so everyone gets a peek at what's being grown, and it's lovely. It adds a lot of character to the neighborhood, and I love watching new produce pop up every season. Giant squash growing on a chain link fence, an olive tree in the front yard, grape vines covering a patio, lettuces in the unused patches of dirt outside an apartment building. All the people I see around here are fit, too! No wonder! - 11/26/2014   3:42:51 AM
  • 471
    Living in a rural setting, I don't have to worry about this. I can't imagine though that I would be bothered by a vegetable garden instead of a lawn next door to me. For one thing, if it was organic, I wouldn't have to worry that pesticides and herbicides were being used, which are often used on lawns. And why is it better for every house and front yard to look the same? That reminds me of the song "Little Boxes". And maybe the neighbors would share some of their produce, another benefit. - 11/18/2014   9:28:57 PM
  • 470
    I wouldn't be at all offended. I'd like to see more of it! With the price of food ever increasing, it's financially helpful to grow as little or much as you have time and energy for and it's always tastier. I'd be concerned though that food in the front yard would be irresistible to passersby. For those who wouldn't want a food garden in front of their home, landscaping with native plants might be an alternative. I don't have a lawn and never will. I think they're a polluting waste of resources. - 10/26/2014   1:12:55 PM
  • 469
    The only thing I will say about a garden in the front yard is WATCH OUT FOR NEIGHBOR'S PETS! Be careful about how your garden gets fertilized : ) - 10/26/2014   8:43:49 AM
  • 468
    How ridiculous!
    On the one hand, it is to ME, aesthetically pleasing, but on the other hand, I can see how someone else could think that the melee of plants is a clutter.
    I could SO see city dwellers making veggie gardens on their front lawn rather than flower plants! Not only, to me, is it eye appealing, but it's USEful!
    Now, I did read the news article, and the city said that the yard had to be 30% grass ... how easy is that to put grass in-between rows of veggies?!?! I know - that's how I've got my veggie garden! (Okay, it's more weeds than grass ...)
    Oh, and veggie gardens are easier to maintain than flower beds, AND you get a whole new crop of insects that you wouldn't normally see on a lawn :) - 10/26/2014   7:57:07 AM
  • 467
    I just read the article. Their garden looks fantastic and if what Mr. Beauchamp says is true (he shares his vegetables with his neighbours) I don't understand why they would complain. Also why does the property need to be 30% grass? What good use is grass compared to a robust vegetable garden? - 10/20/2014   3:23:23 PM
  • 466
    Obesity in this country is an epidemic and we're fining people who are trying to grow VEGETABLES?! Maybe I'm just used to it- I live in a part of Ann Arbor, MI where it seems like more of my neighbors than not have gardens somewhere in their yard, many of them taking up their entire front yards. I just don't see how it's a bad thing... are property values really more important than people eating well? I think some people need to take a look at their priorities, because punishing someone for trying to be healthy is completely unacceptable IMO. - 9/28/2014   8:36:32 PM
  • 465
    I think it's insane and wholly inappropriate for ANYone to dictate what a homeowner may/may not grow in their own space (so long as it's legal!). I happen to find vegetables, well-kept, to be beautiful plantings. If they have herbs, so much the better: they smell lovely in addition to being useful and healthy. We spend too much time in our society judging and directing others. You don't want veggies? fine. Don't grow 'em. If your neighbor *does*, and keeps them well, it's not your business! - 9/28/2014   4:02:20 PM
    Our HOA won't allow vegetables in the front yard. I think it's stupid, our community isn't that high brow, if done properly it would be better than a lot of other people's yards. I don't care if I live in a community, I'm very much for personal freedoms. I bought a house so that I could do what I wanted. - 9/28/2014   9:47:59 AM
  • 463
    I would be annoyed by a weedy vegetable garden. But I would be annoyed by a weedy front yard too.

    I don't hold the the opinion that it's my property, I can do what I want. I live in a community. What I do can affect the property value of my neighbors homes as well as mine. If a home is trashy it affects us all.

    That's why I consider HOA rules, as well as laws. When either is ridiculous, change them. Remember that they exist to protect our communities. - 9/28/2014   9:11:16 AM
  • 462
    This just boils my blood and makes me a very *sour raspberry* :( :( :(.......PROPER PERSPECTIVE, PEOPLE..... PLEEEEEESE! Complaints need to be made against *racism*, *sexism*, *ageism* and any other type of *--ism* that is foisted upon people to put them down, keep them down and prevent them from engaging positively in the world - not this kind of petty, elitist, snobby $#!@#! Sheesh! - 9/28/2014   5:59:49 AM
  • 461
    The complaining neighbor doesn't realize that they are showing their own stupidity. Lawns suck up much-needed water, some people use chemical fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides on their lawns, polluting the environment. Grass gives nothing back and takes much. The cranky neighbor should be thanking these people for planting something that not only benefits their health, but gives back to the environment. - 9/2/2014   9:40:06 AM
  • 460
    The complaining neighbor doesn't realize that they are showing their own stupidity. Lawns suck up much-needed water, some people use chemical fertilizers, weed killers and insecticides on their lawns, polluting the environment. Grass gives nothing back and takes much. The cranky neighbor should be thanking these people for planting something that not only benefits their health, but gives back to the environment. - 9/2/2014   9:39:07 AM
  • 459
    Who would have thought that it could be against the law to plant a garden that feeds a person in their own yard? It is appalling... I would grow one just to spite them! I am a country girl and when I was growing up we had a garden, but we had an acre or more property. When I got my first house I had a garden right out my front door instead of shrubs... Had the neighbors complained, too bad so sad! Thanks for the article. This is America, we should be able to grow a garden anywhere... - 9/2/2014   9:19:09 AM
  • 458
    Who would have thought that it could be against the law to plant a garden that feeds a person in their own yard? It is appalling... I would grow one just to spite them! I am a country girl and when I was growing up we had a garden, but we had an acre or more property. When I got my first house I had a garden right out my front door instead of shrubs... Had the neighbors complained, too bad so sad! Thanks for the article. This is America, we should be able to grow a garden anywhere... - 9/2/2014   9:19:08 AM
  • 457
    Vegetables are beautiful and yummy. How could that offend! - 8/26/2014   1:55:06 PM
  • 456
    What a world we live in - who could find vegetable gardens offensive. I would probably ask for pointers from them to get my own garden growing. I don't have the greenest thumb in town. - 8/26/2014   12:59:38 PM
  • 455
    Seriously? People can have garbage, broken down lawn furniture, and unkempt lawns, but a few cucumbers is a problem? I think more of these would actually make the community look better! Like a health conscious community that gardens, and takes advantage of wasted space, making it beautiful.

    If anything, at least have some respect for nature, and all it's beauty! - 6/19/2014   12:29:23 PM
  • 454
    I was almost speechless reading this. That a problem like this even exists is absolutely ridiculous. A homeowner should have the right to plant whatever they want, wherever they want on their own property. It's no one's business but the homeowner's. Really, there aren't more important things to worry about in this world besides where someone's placing their gardens? Unbelievable. - 6/10/2014   12:18:31 PM

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