Edible Estates:The Attack on the Front Lawn by artist Fritz Haeg

I have cleared most of my lawn up front of but a few strips of grass, and this area was one of my last projects to tackle. It is very heavily shaded and was covered with many non natives. I am not a purist in the sense that I have to make it all edible + natives, so I left a few to mingle in my new area this summer.

I have been wrestling with my front lawn for the past 10 years. I live on a typical city block where no one grows food in the front or back yards and no flowers! However, the past few years I have been  seeing more flowers, which is delightful in front yards and less chemical spraying, but I have yet to see vegetables in the front yard. I have planted salad greens, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, herbs, spinach, Kale and Swiss chard in our front yard. I feel if you mix them with other annual and perennial plants it is not that different  looking than a cottage garden.

This area in my front yard was covered with newspaper, compost,and leaves for the past few years. I have edged this area with native plants to provide food for  pollinators. I have a large oak tree that covers this area, but at least 6 hours of full-sun is available!

I have been slowly eliminating our lawn over the years,but I have done it in a subtle way by not upsetting my neighbors. The first few years they were asking me if I would be leaving any grass.  I would smile and assure them there would be some grass left, but as I integrated natives, annual flowers,  herbs + veggies they started to enjoy what I was doing and started to stop by to chat about what I was growing. I have a pollinator section up near the driveway filled with dwarf cosmos and they all stop by now to collect seeds from my front yard each fall. I love it!

Dwarf Oak Leaf
Hydrangea quercifolia

Since I am the only home, on our block, with edible food items in the front yard, I have to be careful how I mingle my crops up front. I have found people are more accepting of change. If you make it attractive to them, they are more eager to try some of the ideas themselves. That is why I implement the simple cottage and potager designs in an urban landscape. It has a playful style that most of us remember from our childhoods of flower gardens long past.

I love to plant seasonal vegetables, herbs + flowers in our front yard that work well together….

Fritz Haeg, an American Artist in 2008, started the edible estate project that was an attack on the front lawn. He has published several books, and now his attack on the front lawn has been all over the world. I found a website that has a variety of videos, gallery pictures, and bios on the various edible estate projects he started and some of the most recent ones in 2013. I find his work an inspiration + thought you might find it interesting. It may spark some ideas for your own space.

I love this video because it is like our community + reminds me of when I first started digging up our front lawn. I share food with my neighbors + I hope it inspires you to think about your city lot differently this spring + summer.




#15: TWIN CITIES, Minnesota (est. 2013) commissioned by the Walker Art Center

#14: AARHUS, Denmark (est. 2013) with the Aarhus School of Architecture

#13: HOLON, TEL AVIV, Israel (est. 2013) commissioned by the Israeli Center for Digital Arts

#12: BUDAPEST, Hungary (est. 2012) commissioned by Blood Mountain Foundation – watch video

#11: ISTANBUL, Turkey (est. 2011) Rooftop Hothouse at SALT Beyoglu

#10: ROME, Italy (est. 2010) Rooftop Homestead at the American Academy in Rome, permanently installed at Centro Sociale Ex-SNIA

#09: ALDRICH Museum Staff Gardens (est. 2010) at Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

#08: LENAPE Edible Estate: Manhattan (est. 2009) produced and presented by New York Restoration Project in partnership with Friends of the Highline for Hudson Guild at Elliott-Chelsea Houses, New York, NY – watch video

#07: DESCANSO Public Demonstration Garden (est. 2008) at Descanso Gardens, La Canada – Flintridge, California

#06: BALTIMORE, Maryland (est. 2008) commissioned by Contemporary Museum – watch video

#05: AUSTIN, Texas (est. 2008) commissioned by Arthouse

#04: LONDON, England (est. 2007) commissioned by Tate Modern – watch video

#03: MAPLEWOOD, New Jersey (est. 2007) sponsored by Garden Supply – watch video

#02: LAKEWOOD, California (est. 2006 ) exhibited at Machine Project and Millard Sheets – see brochure & watch video

#01: SALINA, Kansas (est. 2005) commissioned by Salina Art Center – see brochure & watch video


Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn (Metropolis Books, 2nd ed. 2010, expanded 3rd edition coming 2015)