Micro Homesteading / The Garden

5 Reasons You Should Grow Food Not Lawns

I almost called this post 5 Reasons I Started Ripping Up My Front Garden and Why You Should Too. But then I thought some people may get upset. There are people that love them some front lawns and wear them like a badge of honour. But as far as I’m concerned the best thing anyone can do is grow food not lawns….period. As you can probably tell I’m not nearly so attached to mine, partly due to the fact that The Hubby and the one neighbour are in a literal turf war.

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If you’re shaking you’re head then let me explain what this entails. You start with two grown men, then add two lawnmowers set to different heights. Both of them mowing the front lawn which we share. I personally like to keep ours longer so that it doesn’t burn and I honestly think it looks better.

Grow food not lawns

The Hubby on the other hand gleefully likes to lower our lawn height just a little each time in order to see how low the neighbour will cut his. For some reason, the guy really likes his lawn to be lower than ours. Sigh. I myself have no time for these pesky, testosterone-filled games. I’d rather throw caution to the wind and dig it all up and put in some lovely raised beds. Don’t mind the clover but I’m feeding the bees! They need all the help they can get, it’s terrifying the rate at which they are dying off.

While in truth I would much rather have rows upon rows of veggies instead of a front lawn, I’m not quite there yet. I have to check if there is a by-law against it especially because of my by-law checking pesky neighbours (not the low-lawn guy, the neighbours on the other side). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against By-Laws…but I also believe in being neighbourly.

In any case, testosterone-filled lawn wars aside, I decided to start small and get rid of the flower garden on the one side of the front path beside the garage.  I should also mention that last year I dug up a quarter of my back yard to expand my veggie garden.  Not impressed?  What if I told you the space I dug up is 13 feet by 11 feet and that I did it by hand just using a garden claw

Which by the way if you don’t have one already I would strongly suggest you get one.  I use mine every year AND share it with my neighbour!  It’s a lifesaver. As I mentioned you can even use it to remove sod if you’re as daft as me! I still need to make a permanent fence at some point. Until then the dollar store fencing helps keep the wee Bacon out.

Grow food not lawns

Anyway, back to the “renovation” of the front yard. This was by no means a small feat. The front garden was completely overgrown and covering part of the pathway. Does this reflect badly on me? Perhaps, but with a full-time Day Job, blog, purse business and suburban homesteading I have little time for flower garden maintenance! So away it went with zero f*cks given! The sole survivor, as requested by The Hubby was the gorgeous peony at the end. I really do love peonies. If you are curious about growing them or are having difficulties check out my post on 8 Tips to Growing Beautiful Peonies. Here is one of my “babies”.

Grow food not lawns

So armed with a lot of determination, a brown bag, a variety of garden tools and possibly not much common sense I set to work. I say this because I chose to undertake this sizeable task on an incredibly hot day (once I set my mind to something, very little will dissuade me). So I probably made it harder for myself than it needed to be. But after a few hours and much sweat later it was pretty much done.

Once everything was gone the next task was deciding what to put back in. As I get lots of sun in the front yard I decided on peppers mostly as they do love the heat! I’m smitten with poblano peppers, and this is my first year growing them. So, of course, I put one of them in the new garden. Keeping the poblano company I also planted a diablo pepper (sweet), Con Arroz (sweet) and a bell pepper. I had some blueberries in the backyard that were not thriving so I moved them out front as well.

Grow food not lawns

With some space still left I also decided to use the front as a herb garden. So in went cilantro, oregano, lemon balm, rosemary sage, lavender, parsley, thyme and some mojito mint. That was a given as I have recently discovered that Mojitos are a new favourite of mine. Second only to Moscow mules, of course.


Anyway, I digress. So up to this point, I have told you WHAT I did and not the underlying reason WHY I (and you) should do it. I alluded to it at the start. But my ultimate goal is to get rid of grass and fill the space with rows of veggies. Now before you plow (see what I did there?) headlong into the whole grow food not lawns mindset I need to point out one very important thing.

There can (unfortunatey) be by-laws that prevent you from growing anything but grass on your front lawn. Sucks right? So before you start make sure that you aren’t breaking any rules. Also, there will most likely be stares and evil eyes from some of your more conservative neighbours. But if you are undaunted by these and are sure you are not breaking any by-laws then power to you! So let’s look at why this is such a good idea.

Grow food not lawns

1. More space to grow

As a suburban homesteader, the thing I am missing most, other than chickens (sniff) is SPACE! I can’t enough of it as there are always so many things I want to grow. Mainly because the more I grow, the more I can put in my family’s bellies. Plus there is less money I have to spend at the dreaded supermarket. By converting my front flower garden into another planting bed I added 36 square feet of growing space! By applying the square foot gardening method I am making sure that I am maximizing this newly added space! So just imagine how much more space I can add if I start ripping up the front lawn!

2. It’s an international movement

With a mantra of “Grow it, don’t mow it”, why not jump on the bandwagon of something amazing. The idea to Grow Food Not Lawns came to fruition in 1999 thanks to a group of people in Eugene, Oregon. One of the co-founders Heather Jo Flores, published a book on the movement, “Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community“. You can find their official Facebook page is here. The movement has grown to include 50 chapters worldwide! If you want to know if there is a chapter near you then you can check here.

3. Help start a conversation

If you get rid of the grass and have veggies in your front lawn I can guarantee you it’s going to be a conversation starter. This is a wonderful opportunity to chat with other people about the benefits of growing your own food. Who wouldn’t want chemical and pesticide-free food? While you are chatting with them, why not give them something from your garden (assuming they are ripe). Or share some seeds that you have saved. Chat about the benefits of heirloom seeds as opposed to hybrids. Most people still think their food comes from the “farms”. Like the kind that kids draw, complete with green fields, cows and farmers in tractors.

4. Create a community

There is a good chance that once you start, others will follow. This a great chance to be a leader for change, to inspire others! I would love nothing more than to inspire some of my neighbours to start growing their own food. Even if they don’t choose to do it on their front lawn! It means there are more people to share techniques with, swap seeds with and generally chat about gardening!

5. No lawn maintenance

When you grow food not lawns you have the added benefit of no (or at least reduced) lawn maintenance! If you have no grass then there is no need mow it, weed it or worry about how low your neighbour is going to cut their side. I tend to have a lot of dandelions. That is until the clover comes in because I am more concerned with feeding the bees rather than being weed-free. Which neighbours don’t like much cause then they end up with dandelions too. So with less or no lawn, I can still feed the bees with the flowers on my veggies. Plus as an added bonus I get to trade them for pollination. I count that as a win-win situation!

So there you have it. That’s my case for why you should ditch your lawn and grow yourself some awesome organic veggies instead!

What do you think? So, are you going to jump on the grow food not lawns bandwagon? It’s a great bandwagon to jump on. Just think about what you could grow!