I just read a good article in the Sacramento News & Review. It is
I was wondering (after reading that article) if there was any legal
restrictions to growing fruits, veggies, & other crops in one's front
yard in Sacramento County? What about eliminating a lawn in favor of
So what have you grown in favor of a green lawn?
lucky! my neighbors, when i lived in Manchester NH, called the
police on me *all the time* about my gardens... well, the first time
it was about my dogs because i took them out during a hurricane.
sorry lady, but the dogs needed to go & they don't go in the house (i
had a Borzoi & a Shepherd/Lab at the time. not rug rats). i was out
with them. but she called & filed an animal cruelty complaint...
then she complained i had rats in my compost pile. i had a *possum*
living under my shed. she hated my combination vegetable/cottage
garden in the front yard.
the police finally got so tired of her complaints over nothing they
told her if she called about me one more time, they'd arrest *her*
for wasting their time.
i can't say i miss her now that i've moved away ;)
I don't know about Sacramento, but many cities actually encourage
homeowners to convert their lawns to native plants, xeriscaping and
edible gardens by paying them a benefit for the cost of lawn
conversion. Examples of lawn conversions in San Jose, San Rafael and
other cities are identified in the Ergonica Lawn Conversion site. If
you search for "lawn conversion" you will easily find this site and
many other relevant sources.
I suggest homeowners should contact their local city or county elected
officials to see if there is a support structure of some kind
locally. Perhaps your councilperson will sponsor a local ordinance or
plan to encourage lawn conversions?
It's all about grass roots politics, but without the grass.
Once upon a time, I remember when I used to enjoy mowing the lawn. No
lawn now. Better things to do.
Interesting thread. I frequently visit what in Australia amounts to a city
(about 300,000 people). I do deliberate detours so that I can drive past
what I call in my head "ethnic gardens". I now know the locations of a lot
of them and can do a detour to any area I'm going to just to follow
These gardens are generally smallish blocks of about a quarter of an acre
and are owned by older Greek and Italian migrants who waste not an inch of
soil in growing food. Features of these gardens include: figs/walnuts and
fruit trees on the nature strip, pergolas covered with grapes (often near
the houe/over pathways or over a cantina in the back yard where the bulk
food preservation seems to go on). Every vegetable imaginable is grown for
whatever season it is and harvested and then replanted with whatever follows
for the coming season. I love these gardens as find them so much more
itneresting tht the houses around them with the more 'traditional' mix of
shrubs and flowers.
After 20 yeras of perving on these gardens I'm always upset when I realise
that the old people have moved on and their gloriously productive gardens
are destroyed by new owners who come in and do 'landscaping'.
I know several people that planted fruit trees in their front yard. In
California it can draw tree rats (I used to see them when I lived in
Downey, CA). My brother planted apples and pears--it would draw
yellow jackets, make a mess. The fruit was also a tripping hazard,
infested with worms, so he removed the trees. I'm in favor of
keeping the frontal property in respect of the neighborhood.
Isn't America fussy!
Here in New Zealand we are down a right of way, so can be as untidy as we
like - for now. But we are about to be amalgamated into Auckland City, so
This year the grass got away on me and was waist high before I could chop it
down with the weed eater and mow it. It made a nice crop of hay for the
birds' nests though, and the wild birds loved the seeding grasses.
Our citrus trees are now about 35 years old and cropping well.
Our Korean neighbours have a huge house on a tiny section, but every inch of
ground grows some kind of crop in little beds.
And one family near here had a first crop of potatoes in the front garden,
in a new development. But when they put a lawn in the next year it was
beautiful. They say potatoes are a good first crop though.
Restrictions on what can be planted in a front garden will vary from
municipality to municipality and according to any covenants or
restrictions associated with a specific development and the homeowners
board, if any. Check to see if any of these apply in your area.
On another gardening group I participate in, this question comes up
often. For various reasons, homeowners are opting away from chemical
consuming, time consuming and water consuming lawns in favor of other,
more environmentally conscious plantings. Edible gardens are only one
alternative. You might want to Google the term 'potager', which is a
formalized, ornamental and edible garden common in much of Europe but
gaining popularity here in the US. If well planned, these can be a
very attractive front yard lawn alternative.
And because much of California is under a prolonged drought with
watering restrictions widespread, limiting the amount of lawn one must
tend is often encouraged. There are all manner of alternative, drought
tolerant plantings that combined with well-designed hardscaping
eliminate the need for any lawn at all, especially in the front. In my
area, which features tiny, postage stamp-sized front gardens in the
more urban areas and summer drought conditions, lawns in the front are
considered a waste of space and resources and are often removed. I've
done countless landscape designs for just these situations. My own
front yard in my old garden had NO lawn.......just some wide paver
pathways to accomodate traffic and the rest was filled with plantings,
mostly shrubs, perennials and groundcovers.
It's not exactly Sacramento, but Rogers Gardens in Corona del Mar
sponsors a California Friendly gardening contest that features low
water use gardens, often focusing on front yards that have little, if
any, lawn involved. These could certainly be a source of inspiration
on how to convert your front garden to a no-lawn planting.
Cat's out of the bag, in public eye now. You can expect the local home
owners associations in each part of the country creating new rules for your
front yard garden, that is, if they even allow it. Its all a matter of
local prevailing opinon of each local home owners associaton. This could be
funny, ludicrous, and anal all rolled up in one. All will make up reasons
as they go along for their rulings to suit each local HOA opinions. I'll
keep my comments about that mum.
No restrictions here north in Butte County.
My lawnless (not lawless) front consists of
To the right of the drive is a border of native plants/low shrubs with
of a 25 yr old crepe myrtle and a trident maple grown from a seed.
No water or maybe once a month
The larger area to the left of the drive is anchored at the four
corners with a
very large Viburnum tinus, a western Redbud, a Loropetalum, and an
with a climbing rose. Along the front of the house are the plants
that get water
regularly: camellias, azaleas, daylilies, columbine, abutilon, among
Water twice a week.
Along the front/sidewalk between the Loropetalum and the Redbud are
tolerant plants/natives with volcanic rocks making slightly raised
In the center is a brick circle with a brick pathway leading in to
Down south in Ventura County, my front "lawn" is pink clover (Persicaria
capitata), a ground cover that is not actually a clover but has
clover-like pink flowers. It doesn't need mowing and will survive
(almost thrive) with reduced watering.
Several years ago, a house on a neighboring street had a vegetable
garden in front, including corn. I didn't hear any adverse comments.
Fortunately, neither my tract nor that tract had a mandatory owners'
association that could control the street-side appearance of a house.
About 2 miles away, there is a tract where you can't even plant a rose
bush in front without approval from the tract's architectural review
committee, which will want to know the color of the flowers and the
height of the bush.
Thus, not only should you check with your local municipality (city or
county, depending on whether you are in an incorporated area) but also
the CC&Rs on your property. The CC&Rs will indicate if an owners'
association has any say over your front yard.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
Can I plant a vegetable garden in my front yard?
You may wish to research further... but that is the website. I
appears there are no garden restrictions.
Not leaving there, but in Atlanta, most people here grow a variety of
plants, like Japanese Grass, Dandelion and Poke Salad,purslane,
hawkweed, and try to keep it mowed to about 2 inches. Not sure what real
grass is supposed to look like. Never liked lawns myself, and don't have
I believe there are a number of readers in this group from your rough
area who can advise.
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