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April 2, 2011 / Leslie

Review: The Edible Front Yard

Edible Front YardThe Edible Front Yard
The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
by Ivette Soler

Genre: Gardening, Food
Publisher: Timber Press
Publish Date: February 23, 2011
Format: Paperback | 216 pages

I grow a lot of herbs in barrels in my back yard adjacent to the deck. This makes it very easy to grab a handful when needed for cooking. They grow quickly in the summer heat and must be cut frequently or they will flower and go to seed. When that happens I notice how pretty they are as flowers. Basil, sage, oregano, chives and even lettuce will produce lovely flowers. My front yard is seriously in need of some new landscaping. More flowers, less grass, environmentally friendly native shrubs, and maybe some edible plants to mix in. Which brings us to this book.

The Edible Front Yard describes how to replace boring, needy, thirsty grass with a diverse mix of ornamentals and edibles. It is filled with beautiful photos and lots of design ideas for various regions and climates. There is advice for shade plants and sun plants, how to remove grass without poison and how to prepare the soil for planting.

There is also a section on building codes, restrictions, permits and neighbors who think your plants are weeds. I am not doing anything that grand, maybe a small retaining wall and a trellis or two. Half my grass is staying put, but it’s nice to know how to handle some of those issues.

One of the ideas I did like and will consider is a beautiful trellis with a section of climbing plants. Another are the herbs. Sage comes in many varieties, makes pretty flowers and is hardy in most climates. I’ve been using chives as perennials for many years. They make gorgeous purple flowers. If you live in a warm climate rosemary is also a beautiful shrub and can be used as a hedge. Last year I let my parsley go to seed and it make big white flowers and also attracted many swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. I hope to have many butterflies this year as a result.

I have been pulling out sections of grass in the front and back yards for a few years now and replacing it with native shrubs, clumps of tall grasses and wildflowers. The benefits are many. They are pretty, add diversity and interest, butterflies and humming birds have appeared, they need little water, little maintenance and no chemicals or fertilizer. Until I saw this book I really hadn’t thought of using my herbs and maybe even a veggie or two out front.

If you are looking for ideas to add some edible and pretty plants to your landscaping I recommend this book.
There is a preview available on google books. I borrowed my copy from the library.

(In a round about grow your food before you cook it kind of way I suppose this qualifies for Weekend Cooking.)

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Participation is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.



Leave a Comment
  1. cbjames / Apr 2 2011 11:09 am

    This is just the sort of thing I need. I have a huge front yard which is 90% lawn. I’d love to take it down to 10% lawn or even no lawn. I used to love the lawn, but I’ve mowed and mowed and mowed and mowed. Now I hate the lawn.


    • Leslie / Apr 2 2011 12:53 pm

      Mowing is a pain, and so is weeding. And my lawn doesn’t stay real green because I don’t water it. A small patch would be just right!


  2. Margot Peck / Apr 2 2011 11:21 am

    What an ambitious project but I applaud you for it. I agree that there are so many wonderful and beautiful plants that would show very well in a front yard as well as the back. I hope you’ll share the results with us as your project progresses.


    • Leslie / Apr 2 2011 12:53 pm

      I’ve been slowly working on this for a few years now. Eventually it will look good and I’ve have some pictures.


  3. Beth F / Apr 2 2011 11:44 am

    I love this idea. And I can relate to the neighbor issue. I have a large part of my yard devoted to a wildflower-herb garden. I’m always getting the “weed” comments. Ummmm, Dame’s rocket purposefully planted in the garden is a flower, *not* a weed. Argh!

    Anyway, I applaud your green efforts and nothing is better than freshly picked herbs.


    • Leslie / Apr 2 2011 12:58 pm

      I have kept the wildflowers like milkweed, tall coneflower and herbs in the back and put what most consider flowers like peony, aster and shasta daisy out front. Now I’m ready to expand to herbs and more wildflowers. I put tall prairie grass along the lot line in front last year and so far I have had no neighbor comments good or bad.


  4. Chinoiseries / Apr 2 2011 12:42 pm

    What a wonderful idea! Unfortunately, I don’t even have a balcony in my city center apartment, but I’ll keep this book in mind when I move. I could of course grow green herbs in a pot, inside 🙂


    • Leslie / Apr 2 2011 12:58 pm

      Quite a few herbs will grown nicely inside by a sunny window. Basil and rosemary definitely will.


  5. Joy Weese Moll / Apr 2 2011 2:31 pm

    This sounds like a great book! Just the direction more of us suburb dwellers should be heading.


  6. caite@a lovely shore breeze / Apr 2 2011 3:10 pm

    that is a great idea…all the more now as the season of fighting to keep my grass looking ok is upon us..


  7. michelle / Apr 2 2011 4:53 pm

    I’ve been wanting to tear out the grass next to the sidewalk for awhile and it seems this book could really help me. I’m going to request this at my library. Thank you for highlighting it. I would love more butterflies in my yard.


  8. Rebecca Rasmussen / Apr 2 2011 5:20 pm

    I love this book — the idea of taking a boring old backyard and transforming it into something wonderful that one can eat from, etc 🙂 Lovely post!


  9. Suko / Apr 2 2011 7:27 pm

    Leslie, this sounds like a terrific book. I love the idea of growing food in your own garden. 🙂


  10. irene / Apr 3 2011 7:30 am

    This sounds wonderful. I too have been replacing my lawn with more flowery types of plants, but I must say it’s been quite a job. I’m very wet until very late spring, so it’s a challenge to choose the right plant that will survive the flooding. Thanks for your review, and for stopping by.


  11. Sally / Apr 3 2011 7:42 am

    This sounds exactly like what I need for my back yard actually. I’ve done small veggie gardens that have done fairly well, but I’d love to get more creative with it and incorporate something into the landscape design rather than just a plain ol’ rectangle plot. Our front porch is full of wonderful smelling herbs… makes for great sitting and reading.


  12. Esme / Apr 3 2011 1:36 pm

    This sounds like quite the interesting book. I do not have a lot of space-but I do have a planter with herbs which I love being able to grab from.


  13. RAnn / Apr 4 2011 12:54 pm

    I need to do something with my yard. My six year old and I planted green beans in a pot a week ago; they are starting to leaf now, and she’s excited.


  14. Ivette Soler / May 27 2011 4:26 pm

    Thank you so much for reviewing my book! I am excited that it has given you some ideas for growing FOOD in your front yard – it’s an idea whose time has come! You are the best, really! And a big hi-5 to your readers, too



    • Leslie / Jun 9 2011 12:39 am

      And thank you for stopping by!


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