Much has been written about the lawn in American society, from books such as American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn and The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession to dissertations and theses such as Suburban Dynamics of Lawn Care. From my observations, the perfect lawn does not appear to be a priority of most Berkeley homeowners. Except for a section of homes surrounding the Claremont Hotel, I have seen few cases of perfectly manicured lawns with sprinkler systems. There are a number of likely reasons for this pattern. For one, many Berkeley homes have either tiny front yards or no yard at all. Due to the high number of bungalows in Berkeley, gardens influenced by the Arts and Crafts period are also popular.
A small number of people have chosen to use their front yard to grow food. There are edible landscapes that contain a mixture of fruits, vegetables, and herbs mixed with traditional landscape plants. There are permaculture gardens and traditional raised beds. And then there are a few that have moved beyond the front yard to the parking strip area between the sidewalk and the street. I spotted the vegetable garden pictured here on a quiet street near the Berkeley-Oakland border. While I spent some time at this garden admiring the range of vegetables and the natural fencing around the plot, several people walked by but no one seemed to notice all of the vegetables growing right out in public view.