Eat Your Lawn
Plan a garden that's beautiful to look at and contains treats for the dinner table.
The harvest from the Edible Estate at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California.
courtesy Descanso Gardens
Edible Yard Online Info
Growing a lawn, spraying it with valuable water so it will grow taller, cutting it down with a gas-driven mower, and carting trimmings off to the dump where it will create a disposal problem doesn’t make sense to author Rosalind Creasy.
With her 1983 book, The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping, she became “godmother” of a movement to turn lawns into sources of food. A revised edition is set to hit bookstores in 2010.
Her thoughts are now being echoed by experts from other fields, like architect Fritz Haeg. As he sees it, “the ‘hyper-manicured lawn’ is looking increasingly out of date. … Today, amid rising fuel costs, food safety scares and growing environmental awareness, a chemically treated and verdant but nutritionally barren lawn seems wasteful.”
In 2003, Haeg started a project, creating “Edible Estates” in nine U.S. growing climates. In each region, he proposes working with a family to turn their lawn into an “edible estate.” His first venture was in Salina, Kansas, and is recorded along with stories of other gardens in Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. The book also contains charts showing what will grow in different areas and when to plant.
Throughout most of 2008, another Haeg project was featured at Descanso Gardens, a 150-acre botanical garden in La Canada Flintridge, California, 14 miles from downtown Los Angeles.
Haeg, along with Brian Sullivan, a horticulturalist at Descanso, set up a basic frame of a house with a front lawn on one side and an edible garden on the other. It is a working demonstration area located just inside the gardens’ entrance.
Comparing expenses for lawns and edible gardens had Creasy taking out her calculator.
“I started doing research on how much energy, work and money the average American lawn takes, and I was appalled,” she says. In front of her home in Los Altos, California, Creasy created a test garden.
“I took a 100-square-foot bed, 5 feet wide and 20 feet long, and in it I put two tomato plants, two hills of zucchini, six bell pepper plants and four basils.
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