Walking Guide

Poll: Do Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens Offend You?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  522 comments   :  44,791 Views

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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  • PHOENIX0612
    I'm appalled that people can be offended by vegetables. I understand that an unkempt garden can be unsightly, but so can a lawn. There are regulations in place to make people keep their lawns looking nice, so why not for gardens? I don't understand making someone get rid of a garden because people can see it. Like the author of this article noted, not all backyards have good conditions for growing edible plants (or the space). If someone wants to eat healthier and limit the cost by growing their own food, people should butt out as long as it's kept looking nice. We live in a society where people try to control every aspect of other people's lives, but it's not their place to do so. How about being supportive of others? It's much more rewarding and makes everyone's life better and easier. - 6/1/2017   7:29:43 PM
  • 521
    This is why I'm glad I live in the country. Nobody cares about my garden. Though I did click on the link to look at theirs and it is a bit out of control. I don't know how I'd feel having to look at it everyday. - 6/1/2017   11:41:37 AM
  • 520
    By the way, the town in question was drummondville, which is quite far from Montreal. Most inner city neighborhoods allow vegetable gardens in the front yard, especially those in immigrant areas. It is really amazing what they grow on a postage stamp sized plot of land. I'm in awe everytime I come across these gardens. - 5/18/2017   11:32:22 AM
  • 519
    I love the idea of a front yard garden. Herbs look beautiful and really a nice plot of scarlet runner beans can be beautiful. Once I had a pumpkin vine that snaked across my front yard. - 5/18/2017   11:28:46 AM
  • 518
    Some people today are too focused on what is pleasing to themselves. I live in a residential community and our policies do limit the size and height of the garden. Plus the garden must be well maintained, and not coated in chicken wire if in the main yard. the height restriction does exclude things like corn, but we can do tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with no issues. Though we do have some busybody neighbors who do not keep their gardens well kept and then try to point fingers when they are asked to "clean it up" or remove it. - 12/19/2016   12:37:26 PM
  • 517
    They do not bother me so long as they are kept well. When I needed green filler in my front bed I planted kale and ate it as it got too big. I always have a rosemary bush out front too. Carrots are good filler between flowers too and of course my blueberry bushes. - 12/19/2016   12:33:46 PM
    I have no problem with a veg garden in someone's front yard. I would assume because the garden is placed between the sidewalk and roadway it is on city property not the property of the home owner and that would be of concern to me. They appear to have their own area at the front of their home (front yard) that they could utilize as a garden. - 7/29/2016   6:37:17 PM
  • TRAPPER2002
    I think it is a great idea and can't understand people who complain I bet they are cookie cutter folks, poor things! - 3/8/2016   10:17:59 AM
    As long as the garden is not an eyesore, what difference does it make? People complaining about a tidy, well kept garden are being unreasonable. I don't get the "it looks like a slum" complaint. Gardening is one of the most civilized, quiet and contemplative things one can do. This hardly describes slummy behavior. I've been through some slums. You don't see gardens there, and I doubt you'd want to eat food grown in one, so I find such a comment ridiculous. These sniffy, classist complainers need to calm down and look up the term "victory garden" for a little history lesson. I hope "sunnycaligirl" doesn't live near me. I might sneak some beans or tomato seeds into her potted plants. - 3/6/2016   11:46:31 PM
  • 513
    Many years ago I lived in a city, and on my block was a house with the most beautiful front yard I have ever seen. Hemmed in by a short wrought iron scrollwork fence was a well arranged vegetable garden interspersed here and there with flowers. Walking by, I would always stop to admire the beautiful plants and note the progress of the ripening vegetables. Vegetable gardening doesn't have to be ugly, and banning front yard veggie gardening does not guarantee attractive front yards. I've seen countless traditional yards with grass and shrubs that were truly eyesores due to haphazard design or lack of maintenance. - 3/6/2016   7:38:45 PM
  • 512
    Yes I find it just as offensive as people in apartments who string their laundry to dry on their front patio or porches. It makes it look like a slum doing that. This is NOT a farm or a charming town in Italy, it's in city limits. IF you don't have a back yard, try growing vegetables in pots if you must use them where most people are decorative. - 3/6/2016   7:06:31 PM
    I live in the country but until we retired lived in a busy subdivision down state, we all had nice yards but I was one who added veggie plants to both my front and back flowerbeds, each year taking more of the lawn area, and I wasn't the only one. I now live in the middle of 10 acres and have room for flowers, veggies and a small front yard "lawn". I'd still rather have the flowers and veggies then a well manicured lawn. - 3/6/2016   6:24:24 PM
  • 510
    My daughter lives in an older neighborhood in St. Paul, MN where it seems they promote front yard gardening of all kinds. As we drive along the streets there are patches of flowers and grown cover on the boulevards, small fenced gardens in the front yards, and trellises all over with various climbing plants like beans, peas and raspberries. I've also seen this where my daughter lives in Roanoke, VA. It's not only beautiful, but it shows that people who live in these areas have a great relationship with their environment and believe in health and wellness. I am lucky to have a very large back yard and wouldn't plant in the front because we live on a busy highway with lots of pollutants going by every day. It's still a bit noisy in the back but we are sheltered, we have a nice large plot that gets about 70% sun daily, and I just love working in the garden once the weather is right! - 3/6/2016   10:36:42 AM
  • 509
    Your local ordinances (and possible Homeowners Associations) determine what you can do on and with your property. If there are ordinances against gardens in your front yard, contact your local representative and work to change the ordinance. Living in community requires that we surrender some of our individual rights to live together in a more cohesive way. Otherwise it would be the Wild Wild West all over again! Some ordinances and laws are out of sync with current trends and needs and should be revisited. For example, our community recently rewrote an ordinance that had prohibited growing milkweed. Now community members can help build habitat for migrating butterflies in their gardens. Maybe this is something you can address at your next city or town council meeting. Affect change yet still be a good neighbor.

    - 3/6/2016   10:29:11 AM
  • 508
    People who complain about front yard gardens need to quit whining and find a hobby - like gardening!!!! - 3/6/2016   9:18:26 AM
    We are blessed with a beautiful east-facing front lawn. I intend to start reconfiguring said lawn with a 'cottage-type' garden. It will have both flowers and veggies. I fully expect my neighbors to love it, because who doesn't love flowers? - 3/6/2016   9:16:17 AM
  • 506
    I really don't see a problem! It's my property...it's mine to do with as I want.:) - 3/6/2016   6:01:24 AM
  • 505
    In this day and age, people go from Zero to "Offended" in .2 seconds. Personally, I have no problem if a neighbor planted, maintained, and grew a successful garden in his/her front yard. The only time I might be a little bothered by it is if they did NOT maintain it and/or the garden drew pests and other vermin that could become a greater health issue. In which case, it might be a better tactic to work WITH one's neighbor rather than against him. - 3/2/2016   6:50:39 PM
  • 504
    Personally I think it is a great idea. I actually wanted to do exactly what the first picture showed... in my parkway!!! So I researched it and here is the other side: Can't be in a parkway because it is city property... why not?

    If any kid is walking on the sidewalk and eats say a tomato and are allergic (or get pesticide poisoning) you are liable (in your yard) or in a parkway city would be... they aren't willing to take that chance.

    Also be careful what you grow... some are dangerous to animals (ie. sweet potato- the leaves) - 3/2/2016   5:28:46 PM
  • 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
    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
  • 480
    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
    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

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