Plant an Edible Lawn, Piss Off Your HOA

Categories: Urban Gardening

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Courtesy of Doreen Pollack
​Last night, a few dozen hopeful urban gardeners turned out for the Phoenix Permaculture Guild's lecture on turning your front lawn into a garden of edibles. Instructor Doreen Pollack outlined the process she took in transforming the front yard of her historic Phoenix home from half-dead lawn to gorgeous garden.

"My neighbors all thought I was insane," quips Pollack. A year later she was giving away cauliflower and peaches to neighbors, and by then they were all on board. In fact, Pollack says that folks out walking their dogs often stop to compliment her veggies and flowers and ask about making gardens of their own.    

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Raised beds at the new Tempe Urban Garden.

You'll have to check out Pollack's next class to get the full scoop, but in the meantime here are a few helpful tips to get you started planting veggies in your yard.

Just be forewarned, if you have a Homeowner's Association they'll likely start fining you as soon as you kill off the grass. Most won't allow front yard gardens, edible or otherwise. So check with your HOA on their rules regarding front lawn gardens before getting started!

 The Chemical Dilemma: There are three ways to get rid of your old Bermuda grass lawn. Pollack chose the most controversial way, a chemical called glyphosate. The worst part is that you have to water and fertilize your lawn until it's lush and green before killing it. "That was hard," said Pollack. "I thought, 'it never looked this good before!'" 

Make Your Bed and Lie in It: Raised beds are one of the most popular garden types, but according to Pollack "here in the desert they tend to need more water than beds that are right in the ground." A sunken veggie or flower bed uses less water and allows for flood irrigation.

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Courtesy of Doreen Pollack
​Love Thy Neighbor: Don't forget to tell your neighbors what you're doing. If you want to keep their grass lawn from encroaching on your new permaculture design, dig down a couple of feet at the border of your yard and fill with cement. Cap it off with decorative bricks.

Go Under Cover - If you're using chemicals to kill your existing lawn, plant a "cover crop" of flowers or veggies to help breathe the life back into your soil and take out any chemical residue. Of course, you can't eat it...so when the cover crop starts wilting, pull it all up and toss it in the trash. Now your soil's ready for edibles.

Compost, Compost, Compost: "If you have a garden or a garden bed, don't be surprised if you need to use more and more compost," Pollack cautions. The dry climate and poor soil here requires a little extra love. So if you're thinking of starting a new garden, throw your fallen leaves and biodegradable leftovers onto a compost heap.

If you're worried about your black thumb, relax. Everyone kills a few plants when they first get started, says Pollack. Get back on the saddle (or with the trowel?) and you'll eventually get it right.

For more info on Urban Gardening, check out the Phoenix Permaculture Guild web site.

If you're looking to have fresh eggs with your newly planted veggie garden, check out their upcoming class on Raising Backyard Chickens with Rachel Bess on Saturday, May 29.


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1 comments
Homeowners Association
Homeowners Association

If there are 100 members of the Association of Owners, why 99 of them lose their rights under maintenance documents of the association, as a seller, or the maintenance of the association board refused to show the documents to a buyer .I do not think a court can not.

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