I have a very small back yard and front yard. I will be planting a square foot garden in the back, reserving space for a patio table, BBQ and play space for the kids. I would like to have more room for growing our own produce, and so, it makes sense to also use the very small front yard as much as possible.
My concern is having an attractive garden in the front. I don't think plopping down a 4x4 square foot garden as a raised bed made of scrap wood is going to cut it. I just prefer to avoid annoying the neighbours, and I would probably appreciate a pretty veggie garden also.
I do have the advantage of a natural slope in the yard, so I can create a "raised bed" without it being very raised in front of the house.
I am thinking I could create a wall out of interlock bricks (or have someone else do it). But what could I plan for the best visual appeal?
I have thought of planting beautiful cabbages, herbs, and perhaps some edible flowers for fun and beauty. Could I get away with tomatoes or pole beans somehow? Melons? If not, what else makes an attractive vegetable garden?
My space is literally like 6 feet across the front and possibly 10-12 feet toward the road (I don't want to go to the street, only about 3/4 of the way to the street).
I'm in zone 5.
Any ideas appreciated!
Here, a picture is worth a thousand words!
She has all sorts of stuff in the front. Beans and peas can look really nice if you put up a nice trellis or a "teepee" made of wood. Tomatoes aren't particularly attractive (IMO) unless they're staked. But that's a matter of personal preference. I would suggest not doing anything like melon, pumpkin etc. They get out of control really quick and it will be a mess. Those are better for areas that have LOTS of space.
Google "edible landscaping" also to get some ideas. It is really quite artistic if you do it right! I look forward to seeing your "after" shots!
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Maybe you could try a dwarf bush variety of "patio" container tomatoes or peppers which might not require as much staking. I also think that more color makes my garden look nicer so I like to plant different colored cherry tomatoes to get more pops of color. Eggplant also does not take up much space and looks pretty neat. If you can get flowers to coordinate, they might pull things together quite bit.
If you are interested in growing fruit, both blueberry bushes and strawberry plants are nice to look at, but blueberry bushes are the most ornamental. Their wood changes color with the seasons, if you have seasons that is.
In my front yard right in front of my front porch where you might normally find bushes or other landscaping, I have my strawberry patch. What's great about it is that it requires little work in the winter, because the strawberries spread, I can start with few plants and have more and more each year, and they are a pretty flowering plant/ground cover. It does require a lot of weeding. Along the side of my house, I have blackberry bushes. These are VERY low maintainence. It's taken a while for mine to produce, but I had berries in my cereal last month.
There's a family on my way to my dd's school that has their entire garden in a 18 inch wide strip right along their driveway. They do have a long driveway, so they have lots of plants, but it's basically just a single row. They have a chainlink fence running along the driveway, was probably even there before they put the garden in, and they have cucumbers, tomatos, and squash, plus some others that I can't quite tell what they are, all along that fence, just tied up to the fence. It looks pretty neat actually, if you didn't know what to look for, you wouldn't even know it was a garden, it just looks like landscaping when you are driving down the street.
There's another house, by my sister's cake shop, that has like this nest of sqaush in their front yard. It's like this small hill, with a "crater" (not sure whatelse to call it, it's like a hill with a depression in it) and in this, they have I am not sure how many squash plants. All told, the depression is probably 3 ft in diameter, all you can really see is this groundcover of squash leaves and some do creep out a little, but it looks pretty neat actually. It looks very much like a landscaped area with groundcover, the only reason I realized she had squash in there was because she set up a little roadside stand next to it to sell her extra.
You could also put a fruit tree or two in front. Pepper plants aren't ugly IMO and don't need staking or caging for the most part.
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With that in mind, I guess I'd go with edibles that are either perennials or which last most of the season.
Perennials - Someone else mentioned blueberries and strawberries. I'd add grape vines, currant bushes (one has leaves that smell like cloves - how nice would that be to add food and a nice scent!), serviceberries (these can get very large, but I've heard there is a variety that doesn't get over 4 ft - service berries are delicious, and are a nice substitute for blueberries if your soil isn't acidic), aronia, hazelnuts (again, these can get huge, but there is a bush hazel that stays small), dwarf fruit trees, pruned or espalliered (ex. Stella cherries, or Raintree nursery has bush-sized apple trees), herbs, jerusalem artichokes (these get tall, but are very pretty!), American ground nut
Veggie garden plants - pepper plants are beautiful, if you get enough sun. brussels sprouts could be striking in the right spot, beans will be lovely if grown up a beautful teepee (I'd spend some decent money on nice trellises if you can afford it), as would edible gourds (one of the most beautiful plants I've ever seen was an edible loofa that my friend grows - and the leaves smell like chocolate when you rub them!), Patio hybrid tomatoes are cute plants and stay compact and neat (I generally like OP, but would make an exception in this case), and then there are other plants meant for container gardens (like Tom Thumb peas) that would look nice and neat and cute.
Good luck! It sounds like a very fun project.
Second, what about medicinal herbals? If you space it right, you could do some tall echinacea (very pretty flowers!) towards the front, kinda hiding small bush tomato plants and such.
Cilantro and feverfew and chamomile are pretty flowers/stalks. Asparagus ferns out like a much, much prettier arbor vitae (I hate those bushes with a passion though). Towards the end of the season, just chop off the pretty almost Christmas trees, and it's nice and bare dirt/mulch again until the spears pop up next year.
Strawberries are easy to contain if you pay attention.
Cute little blueberry bushes (I want to say Top Hat in one of the catalogs somewhere?) could be a neat little border plant.
Carrots get all ferny and I think look cute (they get a bit bigger when setting seed though).
Herbs like chives, thyme, sage, oregano, ground cover thyme all look decent. I have chives and thyme in my front bed against the house - along with roses, lilies, some daisy of some sort, peas on a trellis against the house. If the house weren't on the market, I would've put cucumbers (up the trellis) and zucchini up front again. I've had onions up front as well here and there. They don't look too bad until the zukes get monstrous, then it's almost the end of the season and time to rip them out.
I wouldn't do huge bushy/leafy things like zucchini, or indeterminate tomatoes. Things like grape vines (unless you have one killer arbor!), cane berries (blackberries, raspberries, etc.), sometimes rhubarb, sometimes horseradish and so on can get out of control and be hard to take care of unless you're 100% on top of them. Not like I've had experience with any of that....
(If you're curious, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2010, and yes, it's a busy house)
Best wishes! Some day I hope to move out of container gardens.
Also run a little fence in the front.Yea, I am a fence person.Either with real fence or living plant fences like ornamental grasses.
I have strawberries and currants in my front yard.I also made a lettuce circle,but that is now chives,asparagus,and some stray strawberries.I have lovage too,but that is REALLY tall. If you have not tried ground cherries I would recommend those.Mix in some marigolds or calendula for color.Oh,I get flax from the feed store and throw that all over.Pretty blue flowers.Chives are a nice plant and usefull.Lots of pepper plants look great.I grew alma(apple) pepper this year.
If you do a web search you will come across some yards redone into gardens that were similar in side to yours.Have fun with it!!! Hopefully you don't have HOA's that restrict this sort of thing.