Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's about to get crazy over here: Part 2

In my last post I revealed that I'm going to turn a lot (if not all) of my front yard into a vegetable garden.  I thought that a day off of work because of yesterday's 13.5 inches of snow would be a good time to play with some design ideas for integrating the vegetable beds with the existing perennials. (As you take a look at the pictures below, please note that I am available for hire for my clearly awesome Photoshop skills.)

This picture is from 2009 but you can see the whole front yard. Please don't be jealous of my awesome grass weeds.

The flower beds that you can see are mostly the same. They're close to/on a wall that stands about four feet up from the sidewalk. The gray thing at the bottom is my porch roof.

Next, some recent pictures of each side.

This is the right side of the yard (I'm standing on my porch roof looking to the street). The neighbors' driveway is to the far right, and our half-dead tree is in the upper right corner (I got a verbal okay from J that we can cut it down at the end of the year - yay!). The purple lines denote current flower beds. You can also see the new Nandina 'Firepower' that was planted this past fall.

The brick path leads to the allée. I'm considering removing the brick and putting in a more organic curved path, but I haven't gotten that far in my planning, yet. To the bottom right and out of this picture is my giant forsythia.

The other side of the front walk is larger but has a couple of restraints, namely that I need to leave a couple of paths for Neighbor M to weed her front garden and for her husband to bring their garbage cans down to the street across our lawn every week.

To the bottom and out of this photo is the small flower bed by the porch and the azealea. I don't intend to move those right now.

I'm still not sure if I'm going to do raised beds or not. If my soil is okay after the lead test results come back, I'd prefer to just stick everything in the ground. Of concern, though, are the many slugs that like to roam around so I'd have to have a copper barrier of some sort.

Behold! My very simple ideas for the front yard.

Scenario A for the front right:

Tomatoes in the back, since I predict they'll be unattractive and unwieldy. The nandina will likely be moved, as will the contents of two of the three flower beds.

Scenario B for the front right:

Instead of circles, we have a few rows here with paths in between. I can keep most of the existing flower beds as they are.

Scenario A for the front left:

Very simple, as you can see. Rows of veggies with paths in between for all of us to walk through, while still maintaining the flower bed in the front.

Scenario B:

A little fancier. This would compete with the flower bed by the porch and by the wall, though, and I'm afraid it might be too much.

This is one of those times when I'm having difficulty visualizing things that are not right in front of me, so my designs at the moment are super simple. The plus side to this is that if I don't do raised beds, I can change things around from year to year as I get a better handle on what's working and what's not.

And finally, since I mentioned the word crazy in the title of this post, I thought I'd just throw caution to the wind and tell you about what else I'm thinking of doing.

Some possible ideas include turning this trellis of silver lace vines that climb up the side of the porch...

...into a trellis of cucumbers or peas. It is currently high maintenance to keep the vines check. But cukes by my face as I walk in the front door? Not so sure about it yet.

Edamame growing up the drain spout? Possibly.

Strawberries instead of flowers in the boxes on the porch?


I need to make sure to pace myself though. But as I sit inside with snow covering every inch of the ground, it's hard not to get excited at all of the possibilities my little yard might become.


  1. First, I applaud you for making your sunny front yard into a vegetable garden -- genius! Second, I like the idea of gentle formality for your urban space, so I vote for Scenario A for the front right (love the idea of the tuteur surrounded by veggies). And I vote for Scenario B for the front left. The fact that they are both structured and symmetrical will be complementary and soothing, not competing. (Wavy lines and wandering paths are too chaotic for such a small area). Put some dense green boxwoods in the mix to tame the blowziness of vegetable plants and what the flower gardens hold.

    And keep the straight brick walk, don't change it. By the time you traverse the bee's allee and get to the backyard oasis you can have curves and sweeps there. But keep the front more formal, with the surprise of edibles making up the plants and neat paths punctuated with a boxwood or two. Oh my, this is fun . . I love your bold design plans : )

    1. Thank you for all of the feedback and fantastic ideas, Laurrie. It's very helpful! Boxwoods are a great idea, and if I don't have to dig out the brick path, so much the better.

  2. I think you should plant strawberries and Edamame!! Those would be great plants to have. :) As far as the designs go, I don't know if I really have a preference on the front right, but I do love Scenario B for the front left. I like that it is formal, and I think that the focal point will help blend in the veggies. I also love the symmetry of it, but I'm a nerd like that.

    Have fun with your design, and I think once you decide what you want to grow, the choices will present themselves.

    Happy Gardening!

    1. Thanks! I hope the strawberries and edamame work out as well in real life as they do in my dreams.

  3. I'm with Laurrie - A for the right and B for the left. I applaud your desire to do edible gardening in the front, but I think these choices will be more attractive. Also, if you're tired of silver lace vine, how about Trumpet Honeysuckle? Or you could grow annual vines, say purple hyacinth bean?

    1. I just planted a trumpet honeysuckle in the back and look forward to seeing how it does. Purple hyacinth bean is a great idea - I dried some seeds from a neighbor this year and might try them on the trellis.

  4. I like all the options except for the circular one. I think that will make it too hard to access the veggies and you might end up stepping on the plants. Annual cypress vine or cardinal climber vine would be great on your trellis and they attract hummingbirds.

    Here's an idea for the brick path: Take out a few random bricks and replace them with a super tough ground cover like creeping thyme. It will soften the path and add visual interest. To keep this new design really affordable, add structure with annuals such as zinnias or rudbeckia hirta, both of which can be grown from seed, or even lavender or parsley. They'll attract the pollinators you need for the veggies. Whatever you choose, I think it will be wonderful! :o)

    1. Thanks for the feedback. My awesome Photoshop skills don't show it but I was sort of envisioning something like this with the circle: Your point about access is well taken, though.

      Love the brick path and other ideas - thank you!

  5. Well, I'm a disaster at design, so take this with a bucket of salt - I like Scenario A on the right and Scenario B on the left. They seem a bit more decorative, which is what you want in a front yard vegetable garden, I think. I'd leave the vine, or opt for something else that's decorative. I'm not sure you want cucumbers hitting you in the face as I walked by, and you risk having animals making themselves right at home a bit too close to the house. Trust me.

    1. I was worried about birds and squirrels eating veggies on the trellis, or creating nests there, and it sounds like they will. Thanks for the warning!