Our Potential Vegetable Garden Locations

posted by Andrea | 07/15/2013

dream garden

As many of you know, Dave and I are doing a lot of yard work this summer — however, we STILL haven’t had a chance to work on our vegetable garden (no, the photo above is not in our yard — but wouldn’t that be awesome!)

Part of the reason is because we know (from past gardening experience) how much work a vegetable garden can be, and we also already have a lot on our plate this summer.

However, the main reason is because we don’t know exactly where we want to put our garden. So the vegetables need to wait until next year — in the mean time, we’re enjoying fresh produce from my parent’s garden, local farms, and the grocery store.

We’re currently deciding between 2 different locations, and tossing a bunch of other design ideas around. Of course, I’ve been scouring magazines, websites, Pinterest, etc. for more ideas — and I thought I’d share some of them with you in case you had anything else to add.

If all goes as planned, we HOPE to “break ground” later this fall so our garden is ready for seeds early next spring.

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LOCATION #1 = The front yard.

I realize that the front yard isn’t exactly a “normal” location for a vegetable garden… but due to the layout of our property and the direction our house faces, the front yard actually does make sense.

Our side and back yard is about 80% shade — which is awesome for playing outside on hot summer days, but not so awesome for growing vegetables. The front yard, on the other hand, is south-facing and literally has 100% sun all day long. This makes growing grass somewhat of a challenge so we figured it might be a good idea to remove some of the grass and replace it with a large vegetable garden.

option #1

A few more of the pros and cons: 

PROS: 

  • full sun all day long
  • we already have irrigation in place for watering
  • unlimited space — seriously, our front yard is HUGE and we could grow anything we wanted
  • it could potentially be an awesome focal point for our yard and look super “farmy” to have a big garden out front (think white picket fence, metal windmill, and a scarecrow!)
  • it’s currently ready to go and all we’d have to do would be rototill up the grass and bring in some fresh soil
  • it would alleviate the need to water so much grass all summer long as part of the front yard would be a garden

CONS:

  • front yard veggie gardens aren’t “normal”
  • although we do already have irrigation in place, we would still need to rearrange a few zones and sprinklers to make it work for a garden
  • it would most likely be quite a bit more expensive because we would want to put a nice white picket fence around the garden to make it look “pretty”
  • it could potentially take away from all the other landscaping we’re doing in the front yard, especially in the off seasons when it would mainly be an empty garden plot
  • it would break up our nice big front yard — a.k.a. our future soccer or football or wiffleball field!
  • it would not be in super close proximity to our house, our garage (where all our tools are), or our kitchen
  • it would be more challenging to work in the garden with Nora around because we would be so close to the road
  • it would be really easy for anyone to take produce out of our garden since it’s right out in by the sidewalk and away from our house (not that I think this would happen; however, it is something Dave and I have mentioned before)
  • if we change our minds, it would be a huge pain to remove

 

LOCATION #2 = Along the side of our driveway.

Again, I know this definitely isn’t a traditional spot for a vegetable garden, but since our side yard and back yard are too shady, we have limited options.

The side of our driveway is a very long, narrow strip of land (about 10-15 ft wide and 300 ft. long). We’re currently thinking about making part of that strip into a raised-bed vegetable garden… but again, we haven’t totally thought through everything yet.

We would have to do a decent amount of demolition to make this space suitable for a veggie garden, but we were planning to do most of the demolition at some point anyway — just not necessarily this fall.

option #2

A few more of the pros and cons:

PROS: 

  • it wouldn’t be as “out in the open” as the front of our yard (we wouldn’t do it right next to the road — probably back at least 150 feet)
  • it would get much more sun than if we had a garden in our side yard or our back yard
  • it would be right next to our house (right outside our kitchen) and our garage for easy access
  • we could start small and easily add more raised beds as we went along
  • we wouldn’t need it to look super pretty because it would be mostly hidden from the road
  • this portion of our yard is on a separate zone for sprinklers so watering would be super easy
  • it would be relatively easy to remove the garden if we changed our minds down the road
  • it would be easy to work in the garden while Nora plays in the driveway with chalk, on her scooter, in her car, etc.

CONS:

  • it could potentially make parking along the side of the driveway more difficult
  • it wouldn’t get as much sun as the front yard (full sun from 12-7pm)
  • we would have to remove several large trees and a whole bunch of brush/ground cover before we could even start “building” the garden, and we aren’t positive we want to take on that project this year
  • if we chose this location, we would need to build raised beds — which is another project and it could be pricy depending on how many we want to build
  • the space is more confined so we would have less freedom or room for expansion

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Here’s a (not totally to scale) drawing of our property to give you a little bit more of an idea about the 2 options we’re deciding between. Keep in mind that the area by the driveway is actually a lot larger than it looks. This drawing cut our property off early so we have more useable space over there.

garden options

When we first started discussing our vegetable garden options, Dave and I were both much more interested in putting the garden in the front yard, but after tossing a few more ideas around, we’re starting to lean a bit more towards trying the side of the driveway… but of course, nothing has been decided yet.

Sometimes I feel like we might be over-thinking it, but as I mentioned in this post, when it comes to yard work, we are notorious for doing something, changing our minds 3 months later, doing it again, and then still doing it again a year down the road. We’re sick of this… so we’re trying to put extra thought and effort into all our gardening plans in an effort to avoid doing double and triple the work for the same outcome :)

Can you blame us?

I did find this really neat garden-planning program that I’m hoping will help us with the planning process. It not only helps you plan your garden space, it also helps you know what crops to plant together, how to rotate your crops on a yearly basis, how to naturally control common garden pests, and so much more. Plus, there’s an App for the iPad! The subscription costs $25 per year, but they do have a free 30-day trial that you can use once per email address.

What are your thoughts?

I realize you don’t have all the details so it might be difficult for you to fully understand our potential plans or offer any suggestions, but I’m curious to know what you would suggest — especially if you have a front yard, driveway, or other non-traditional vegetable garden!

top photo credit

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59 comments

  1. Natalia

    07/15/2013

    I have a front-yard garden and I love it. We didn’t have to decide on where to put it – it was there when we bought the house. I thought the location for it was strange, at first. Then, it made sense and I love it. It receives more sunlight than it would in the back of the house, and it’s a great conversation starter with guests and neighbors.
    But, we do have a white picket fence on the property line, very close to the road. It gives us all the privacy and security we need. The gate rolls over the driveway and it looks just like the fence. I have no idea how expensive it was (it came with the house), but I would encourage you to some research, esspecially since you’re planning to live there for a long, long time. We just close the gate, and don’t have to worry about kids chasing their ball into the street, strange cars pulling into our driveway, etc.
    The garden “has” (had?) a second layer of fencing around. We started to take out portions of it, because my husband wants it all gone, while I like the nostalgic look. Trying to decide… We don’t really need a fence there, but I think it makes the garden look nicer, especially during winter months.
    We have a shed for tools, and a compost area.
    I will try to take REAL pictures (not beautiful) and e-mail you sometime soon, hopefully that will give you an idea and help you decide for it or against.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That sounds lovely — and I’d love to see pictures sometime!

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  2. Dana

    07/15/2013

    I vote option #2. I have two kids under the age of four and one on the way, and speaking from the experience of my garden being a bit away from my driveway, that is where the kid(s) will be playing and it will be much easier on you to be closer to them! Both options could end up having plenty of expense, just in different ways.

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  3. Jackie

    07/15/2013

    Driveway definitely!

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  4. Cheryl

    07/15/2013

    My husband just built 2 raised beds for our vegetable garden this year. The only place to put it was right in our backyard landscaping and I think it really worked out well. It is not as big as I would want but good enough until we can clear our side yard by taking down some trees. Our next garden will be raised beds again, I like the looks of it also you can really make them the size you need to fit in the space you have. I don’t believe making the beds were too expensive either. I would go with the driveway choice and do raised beds. If you make the raised beds make sure there is a ledge all the way around it so you can sit when picking or weeding the garden.

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  5. Brenda

    07/15/2013

    I would go with along the driveway. I would run the rows the short length (from the drive to the prop line) You could use raised beds spaced a push mover’s width apart–no weeding the paths. Shorter rows are easier to organize since you don’t need room for 50 tomatoes, 50 peppers…1 row toms, 1 row peppers, 1 row beans…then you can get/make cute little marker signs.

    Also, go stand in your font yard for an hour right now (afternoon). It is reallllllllly hot! Stand there tomorrow morning. It is reallllllly hot. Full sun all day means really hot all day, and then you won’t want to work out there or even go out and pick stuff. I know this from experience. :~) Option #2 could be worked in the morning when it is shady or in the evening when it is cooler or almost dark.

    If you were trying to grow and preserve everything to last through next year, then you would want option 1 as you will probably yield more (if you can deal with the sun/heat.) But, since I think you are mostly doing this for fun and enough veggies to eat for dinner, I think that Option #2 will yield plenty and be way easier to work in. Also easier due to being closer to kids play area and house. As the kids grow they might want to stay in while you are out and then you can still hear through the windows. (My 4 boys are older {6-15} and they stay in but I can hear if they are being naughty when they think I’m not looking. 4 boys sometimes require a sneaky mom!)

    Have Fun!!! Try putting a listing on Craig’s list under free for you-dig ground cover…might get rid of some that way and reduce your digging.

    [Reply]

  6. Janice

    07/15/2013

    I vote for option #2 for several reasons. 1. Safer for Nora and any brothers and sisters she may eventually have. 2. Retain the large play area you have. I would love to plant more flowers in our side yard which gets full sun, but would never take away our volleyball, badminton, baseball, croquet, horseshoe tossing area for our family and friends. Our kids loved it, school and youth groups loved it, and now our grandkids love it! No amount of beautiful flowers could ever replace it! 3. Option #2 is near your kitchen. 4. Easier to remove and install sprinklers. 5. Less “stress” to have a picture perfect garden than if it were in the front yard. Veg gardens can go through some ugly stages, especially during dry years, pest prone years, not enough time to spend in garden years, and the offseason. We have had some gardens that were really embarrassing and we’ve been glad they were out of sight. The year our daughter was born in early September, my husband was ill and I spent the summer in bed. Neither of us was up to gardening. 6. When it comes to parking, friends and family always manage to find a place for their cars in order to visit you. 7.your garden produce would be safer from those who might want to help themselves if on front of house. 8.Better to start small with those raised beds than put in a larger area right in front of your house. I could go on with a few more, but this is already long.

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  7. Lynn

    07/15/2013

    I would go with option #2, definitely. My husband and I changed our vegetable garden location from the backyard to the side yard – and did it with two 4×8 raised beds. This is working out wonderful.

    [Reply]

  8. Melinda

    07/15/2013

    I myself hate making decisions. It’s a lot easier to decide for someone else. ha. Since your asking for opinions and if it were me, I would go with the garden on the side of the driveway. I see nothing wrong at all with a garden in the front yard but when you wrote the con of having Nora by the road when working, that would make me want to have it closer to the house. It sounds like it would be more convenient too. But from reading your blog I’m sure you will make the best decision! Good luck!

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  9. Liz

    07/15/2013

    Here is a lovely front yard vegetable garden: http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-front-yard-vegetable-gardenjune-2013/

    Great inspiration, I’m sure Karen would be happy to discuss why she likes it?

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  10. Living So Abundantly

    07/15/2013

    Definitely driveway! You’re not doing much with that space anyway, and you won’t have regrets later on. ;)

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  11. Amie

    07/15/2013

    Have you ever thought of a straw bale garden?

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  12. Kari Slone

    07/15/2013

    OK this is one I have to chime in on!! I have spent the last 4 years, since we bought our first (and probably only) house, dreaming, scheming, planning & finally started implementing our Front Yard Raised Potager!!! My home is a 1920 bungalow and what I now consider my own little urban farm. This coming from 25 yrs in an apartment.

    In Southern California, it’s still not “normal” to have a front yard garden and my DH was not exactly excited about it either. But the complements, from everyone and the sense of community it’s created have been a great validation and are starting to change his mind.

    We don’t have the property square footage that you have so choices were limited. The following are the reasons why we (I) went with the front yard:
    In the backyard where a garden would go, was in shade during fall to early spring, which would limit the fall garden.
    We got a rebate for lawn removal and I had to do something with the front yard space!

    We don’t have kids but it is semi enclosed with fence and arbor (for the green beans) at the front walk. A hedge and chain link fence are on the sides. There is no gate.
    I wanted to have some formality so there are four raised beds in each section on either side of the front walk to the house. With a relatively traditional quadrant style of square with quarter round in one corner that creates a roomy round opening in the center of each quad. I can place a large round container or a sprial herb garden in the center.
    The front bed at the fence and side walk is a combination of both flowers (mostly of different rose varieties) and edibles.
    The raised beds are a pseudo combination of “Square Foot” and hugelkultur. Plans to do both “combination” and rotation planting with flowers with a feel of a french potager.

    A possible reason to do plan #2 is that in your zone where you definitely have a winter, is what it would look like during that time of the year?

    Andrea, thanks for your blog. I’ve been lurking for some time now, watching, reading, using and pinning much.

    [Reply]

  13. Jeanine

    07/16/2013

    I vote for option #2 unless you could move the garden over to the left side in the front yard so that you don’t take up the main part of the front yard and ruin the sight line to the front of your house. I was wondering if you’ve considered putting up a picket fence all around your property so that Nora and visiting kids/future kids would have a safer place to play. I just remember a time when my son went skateboarding down the driveway, couldn’t stop himself, and went right in front of a car on the road. Thankfully, the car was able to stop.
    Anyway, I think a picket fence would be so pretty in front of your house, and it would probably give you a lot of peace of mind when Nora gets older and starts having friends over.

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  14. Beatriz

    07/16/2013

    I would go with the front garden and work with the zones you already have for the sprinklers. That way you could create paths along and it would be a nice stroll kind of thing. You know taller vegetables (eg corn) in the back mixed with varying heights of other veggies/fruits so that it creates a design but it also provides nourishment. I’m not sure how clear that is but I hope it helps.

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  15. Cathy

    07/16/2013

    I would go with by the driveway for now–while you have small ones being close to the house will be easier and right now you need less food. As they get older, if you feel you need more gardens, you could go the front yard route. If you go with option 1, I’d just make the front yard a fully fenced area so you wouldn’t have to worry :-) good luck!

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  16. DT

    07/16/2013

    Front yard. Border with flowers and you’ll have a showplace. Think roses climbng on a weathered Lincoln style fence. Sunflowers in the back. dahlias, cannas on the side. Or look toward perennials that don’t require replanting. I can see some small early flowering items in that border. forsythia, pussy willow, a little barberry for winter color and perhaps some pyracantha, and a circle of early blooming bulbs. Your yard is huge and it wouldn’t hurt to break it up with another feature.

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  17. Heart and Haven

    07/16/2013

    I would also recommend the side of the driveway. Even with good planning, there are many times of the year that a garden doesn’t look “pretty” (ie. when just planting seed/starters, end of season when everything has been harvested, etc.) If there is good sun, access to water, and close proximity to house…I think the side of driveway sounds ideal. That way you can start off with a few raised beds and expand. Unless you really get more into gardening, canning, preserving….I would suggest only plant edible items in the front that serve double duty as being ornamental plants as well.

    This is my 4th year having a garden. I have two location: one at home (in our side yard, alongside the driveway…we have a postage-stamp sized yard, and this was the only location with enough sun), and a “remote garden” at my in-laws house in a raised 10×30 planter alongside their house. We also have fruit trees: 2 orange trees in backyard, pomegranate tree in our front/side yard. My in-laws have a fig tree, apple tree, nectarine and tangerine tree.

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  18. Starla Kreider

    07/17/2013

    We have a small garden that is in the shade by 2:00 pm. Our things definitely don’t grow as well as if we had full sun. Someone did tell us that the morning sun is important for growing things well. So sun light is a sure thing to consider.

    The front year would work well, I’m sure. But it would be hard for me to give up that lovely space! In a few years little Nora and siblings =) will have a lovely time playing pitch n catch, throwing Frisbees, all kinds of running games etc.

    I’m sure you’ll make the decision that will work best for you.

    [Reply]

  19. AshleyB

    07/17/2013

    Have you considered putting the garden to one side or the other of the front yard, rather than in the middle? And if you fence the garden in like you mentioned, you could take Nora inside the fence with you to eliminate the risk of the road. I live in a less-than-perfect neighborhood, and I’ve never had anyone come inside my fence. Wherever you choose, I wish you well! Gardening is so much fun, completely worth all the hard work that goes into it!

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  20. Mona

    07/20/2013

    I think you are making this much more difficult than it has to be. If you want the maximum output from your garden then regardless of what location it is or what view it might obstruct, you should place it in that location. I have both a container garden (on my front porch) and a traditional garden just to the side of the house, close to the driveway. Both obstruct views partially, but when I look out and see my vegetables growing, it is as beautiful a view as I can imagine.

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  21. Andrew

    07/21/2013

    Option 2 – Why?
    Because that still leaves option 1 open to you if for whatever reason option 2 cannot or does not work and it looks like it needs a bit of a spruce up!
    The shade as you describe should not be too much of an issue.
    From an aesthetic point of view, the front view of your property will not be enhanced by adding a vegetable garden smack bang in the middle.

    Actually, you are very very fortunate to have this choice laid at your feet.

    Just my opinion…

    [Reply]

  22. Jen

    08/11/2013

    Have you ever grow the pet TickleMe Plant that moves and closes its leaves when you Tickle it?
    See video http://www.ticklemeplant.com

    [Reply]

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