Front Yard and Parking Strip Gardens

parking strip garden

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.



  1. Spike said

    edible landscapes

    Delightful phrase.

  2. Hey, I actually know the folks whose parkway you featured in the pic! I’m a bit envious that they live in a neighborhood where people don’t pluck their harvest. If I planted that at my place, it’d be gone. I’ve observed how people interact with the parkway strip. Although no one seemed to notice the veggies while you were observing, there are definitely people who do.

    I have edibly landscaped my entire backyard. Eventually I will do some to the front but it will have to be things that the average American doesn’t recognize as food or else people would hop my fence and clean me out (I don’t have a parkway strip).

  3. stephan orme said

    what a nice surprise! that’s my garden pictured. I get lots of comments from folks about the vegies. The community interaction is the best part of the whole project now. Many people ask if things get stolen, it hasn’t really been an issue but I should note that the things planted don’t really have curb appeal: squash, potatoes, beans and the like. The plums get picked some but nothing else. The other thing though, is that I find it hard to get worked up by someone who felt the need to steal food. There are two cherry tomato plants which are for passerby’s, we’ll see how that goes.

  4. […] One of the Walking Berkeley posts that has generated the most interest and e-mail messages was my post awhile ago about Front-Yard and Parking Strip Gardens. I was surprised that so many people were interested in the topic, but even more intrigued to find that I regularly get visitors to my blog from people searching for terms such as “front yard vegetable gardens” and “growing vegetables in the front yard.” In the time since this previous post, I have also spotted more front-yard vegetable gardens in Berkeley. Perhaps more people are interested in converting their lawns to food than I previously thought. […]

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