The front yard frontier...

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Natalie is a caring community centered soul who loves to find new ways to inspire people to live with a little more kindness. Her home has a decent front yard area and she first tried growing a small garden box with herbs for anyone to come harvest. This small project eventually bloomed into the idea of giving even more meaning to this underused green space. An edible front garden arrangement was on her mind and she came to us at Biophilia to help her make it happen.

Why choose grass when you could have berries and herbs?

I think it's about time we take a moment to admit that we have a longstanding blind relationship with green grass lawns. In this permaculture article about lawns they explain that the fashion dates back to 17th century England when only the wealthiest land owners would have grass lawns as they could afford the servants needed to cut the grass by hand and maintain it. Grass lawns became a symbol of wealth and prestige which we ignorantly keep on maintaining today. Imagine for a second of how productive and useful all that sunny lawn area could be if you were growing food and medicinal plants there instead.

Bottom line is that grass ultimately impoverishes the quality of your soil, competes with your fruit trees, is not edible nor medicinal and its maintenance contributes to poisoning our waterways with weed killers and chemical sprays.

Yes to a front yard frontier project!

Needless to say that we were very excited to participate in what we like to call a front yard frontier as we believe it can serve as an example that might inspire her neighborhood. We started with a few visits at different times of the day to observe the sunlight's trajectory.

Turns out the best exposure came from the left edge of the entire front property. There was an apple tree already in place to account for and she wanted to keep some grass in the center for privacy and picnics.

Kevin made a trip to Ferme Guyon with Natalie to guide her in choosing new edible plant friends for the front yard, relative to her budget. Careful consideration was given to the sun requirements and height of each selected bush as to make sure the bigger bushes dont overshadow the ground crawling plants (like strawberries) in the final design.

1. All the selected plant beauties were brought to Natalie's driveway along with a nice pile of locally sourced wood chips (awesome mulching material).

2. We started by placing each plant in place based on it's height and width at maturity as well as its sunlight requirements.

3. Then it was time to tear up the grass (mouhouhahaha), flip it over and poke holes through the soil with a broadfork to loosen. In this step we are careful not to mix or disturb the natural soil layers to preserve the soil's ecosystem of tiny allies beneath.

Planting time :)

As always, planting becomes a group activity that always leaves participants feeling happy and grounded. We dug out holes for each plant , added some of our favorite soil amendment from Lambert and made sure to coat the bottom roots of each berry bush with our favorite brand of mycorrhizae powder to promote root health and growth. The last step involves mulching over the soil with wood chips and soaking the newly made garden areas.

She ended up with a very berry front yard including strawberries, black berries, pink currants, gooseberries and a gorgeous weaping mulberry tree. Not forgetting the golden oregano, russian lavender, calendulas and many other fine herb friends.

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