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Converting a Lawn to a Garden

I recently read an article about some homeowners who were fined for having a garden in their front yard rather than a lawn.  I have seen a number of these articles in the past few years where a municipality or housing area tries to enforce a code that doesn’t allow for gardens in the front yard.  Some individuals have even been threatened with jail time.

Homeowners Cited for Illegal Gardening: Orlando Couple Fight for the Right to Grow Food

Stay-at-Home Dad Wins Right to Front Yard Vegetable Garden

City of Orlando orders man to dig up vegetable garden

It seems a bit much not to allow residents to grow food to feed themselves.  One of the reasons given by municipalities is that manicured lawns tend to increase property values.  Personally, I would pay more for a house with a well-planned garden than just a lawn.

I often wonder how the US version of lawns originated.  They are enjoyable for recreation and we have written about maintaining an organic lawn, but it also seems like a rational choice to convert some if not all of it into producing a garden.  The history of the lawn is an interesting part of our culture.  From Wikipedia:

Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock, as distinct from fields reserved for agriculture. ..Lawns became popular with the aristocracy in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward.

The lawn basically emerged from grazing fields and were initially, as they are today to some extent, a status symbol of the ability to have open land.  It is almost symbolic of the need not to have to farm to obtain food.

Nevertheless, today there are a variety of compelling reasons to convert some, if not all, of a lawn into garden space.

1.       Environmental

According to the Lawn Institute there are over 25 million acres of lawn in the United States.  This represents a significant amount of synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides as well as gasoline usage.  We have talked about the environmental implications and possible health risks in other newsletters as well as suggested methods of converting to organic lawns.  Granted an organic lawn would also be environmentally sound.

2.       Economic

Commodity and food prices continue to rise.  With central banks around the world printing money to inflate asset prices, you can bet (as you likely have already seen) that inflation is not just limited to the intended assets of real estate and stocks.  Commodity prices have continued to rise which has pushed up the price of food.  One answer is converting a lawn to a garden in order to save a great deal of money.

3.       Aesthetic

There are many more landscapes that homeowners can create with edible gardens which  would arguably increase the aesthetics of a property.  These can always change throughout the year and even cover crops can be done with a nice appearance.

4.       Social

Gardens can become a part of a community – a gathering place, a place for friendly barter between neighbors with various crops and a place to teach children where and how their food originates.

Homeowners have found various ways to turn lawns into gardens.  These include: raised beds, container growing, sheet mulching and simply tilling the lawn.  I have talked to a number of customers who have done one or more of the above and it is nice to hear their stories.  Our MycoMinerals is a great addition to raised beds and container gardening as well as soil conditioning.  Add our Endomycorrhizal Inoculant to the soil to ensure there is a lot of biology when you start.

Good Growing,

Graham Phillips
General Manager

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