Vegetable Gardens in Unexpected Places

vegetable garden

Where do you expect to see vegetable gardens planted?

Most of the time, vegetable gardens are found in the backyard.

But, have you ever  thought of locating your vegetable garden somewhere else?

Vegetable Gardens

This home in the Encanto district, in downtown Phoenix, has a great way of utilizing space in the front yard for growing vegetables.  

Vegetable Gardens

The homeowners decided to utilize the space beside their driveway for planting a vegetable garden.

I think that this vegetable garden looks great in this area, don’t you think?  

Vegetable Gardens

By the way, do know why the homeowner has planted flowers at the end of each vegetable row?

The marigolds and lavender not only add beauty to the garden, they serve an important role in keeping bad bugs away from the vegetables.

Pairing flowering plants and herbs with vegetables is a practice known as “companion gardening”.

There are many other plants that can be planted with vegetables to keep damaging insects away.  You can read more about companion gardening here.

Vegetable Gardens

I also like how the homeowners added vegetables in front of the house.  Some people would tend to plant annual flowers in this area instead, but think how much more fun it would be to plant vegetables there instead.

The vegetables look at home among the ornamental plants such as Agave angustifolia, Texas Mountain Laurel and Red Yucca

Vegetable Gardens

A couple of years ago, I was driving home from a landscape consult and saw this home’s front yard filled with raised beds.

zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatillos and carrots

I returned a few months later to visit these vegetable gardens filled with zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatillos and carrots.

cucumber plants

This is another home in east Phoenix that has homemade trellises, made from rebar and wire, with cucumber plants growing up on them.

The cucumbers are in the perfect spot where they receive afternoon shade from the large front yard tree.

Both of these gardens are planted and managed by the Farmyard group, who grow organic produce on urban farms in Phoenix and Scottsdale.  You can find out more about this group and the services the offer here.

As cool as these vegetable gardens are, most of us cannot grow vegetables in our front yard due to HOA restrictions.

However, if you do not live in a neighborhood with an HOA, maybe you should think about including vegetables in your front yard?

You can start out small – maybe that area that you would normally plant flowers?   ** A word of caution: don’t plant vegetables in front if you have problems with deer, rabbits or javelina.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about growing vegetables in the front yard…  

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
8 replies
  1. Meghan
    Meghan says:

    Every once in a while I get this great idea of expanding my veggie garden into the front yard. And then I remember I live in Tucson, and have a sizable bunny colony munching away on all the native plants out front. At least they are cute to look at!

  2. biobabbler
    biobabbler says:

    I LOVE this practice, both as a conservation biologist, and a merry garden ogler. It's WAY more interesting to me to see what veggies/fruits someone is growing (& how) than yet another lawn/familiar-shrubs/token-trees set up.

    I think possibly the biggest growing benefit I get from planting annual/perennial flowers (rather than deterring "bad" bugs) is it increases HUGELY the # and variety of beneficial pollinators that visit my garden. Attracted by abundant, show, nicely scented flowers, they may be then enticed by the less showy but quite important (to me) tomato flowers, etc. that live nearby. =)

    Unexpectedly, what I've personally gained most from expanding my flower beds (pollinator attracting mix, specifically) is seeing all kinds of bees & hover flies & spiders & butterflies, & photographing them perched on beautiful flowers. These unanticipated encounters makes me happy every day they are around, & I get to learn more about native bugs in the area. =)

    LOVELY post. Thanks so much.

  3. biobabbler
    biobabbler says:

    (p.s. I live on 5 acres that are not visible to anyone on our private, v. rural street, so there's really no front yard for me, but I greatly admire those who DO grow veggies there. =) )

  4. claudette
    claudette says:

    Beautiful! I live in an area with an HOA, so I don't think I could get away with rows of vegis (like a mini-farm), but I have managed to a get a few edibles nonetheless. I got some pomegranates into my front yard (which are pretty and edible). I noticed that one of my neighbors put a pretty pot in their front yard and planted some swiss chard in that. (I think the pot makes it more "decorative" for the HOA.) Even in stricter neighborhoods, there's ways to use the front yard for edibles too!

  5. Jay
    Jay says:

    I love the pictures of the vegetable gardens up there. I rarely see vegetable gardens like that down here in Tucson, though mine does seem to be doing alright. I take it your garden is in the greater Phoenix area?

  6. Meg
    Meg says:

    Do you know if it is legal to plant vegetable in my front lawn in Mesa? I want to do it but I’m worried it may be illegal.

  7. says:

    Hi Meg,

    Great question. If you have an HOA, you’ll need to check with them. If there is no HOA, I’d check with the zoning department for the City of Mesa. I’ve seen a number of vegetable gardens in the front yard in Phoenix. I’d love to hear what you find out.

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