As urban gardens continue to grow in popularity, more and more people are rethinking their yards, refashioning them into gardens featuring a mixture of flowers as well as fruits and vegetables.
Bethany Pratt, horticulture agent at the Jefferson County office, UK Cooperative Extension Service, hosted a recent webinar about how to go about making this change without incurring fines or angering the neighbors.
“In really urban areas like Louisville, we often see that folks have received notifications, fines or other citations for the appearance of their yard or their garden,” she said. “Why that generally happens is because of aesthetic differences.”
Pratt said anyone thinking about doing some gardening in an area of their lawn that is more visible to the public, such as a front or side yard, can take some steps to make sure the experience goes smoothly.
“Take a walk around your neighborhood and figure out what the neighborhood aesthetic is like,” Pratt said. “Especially for fruits and vegetables in the front yard. Figure out how that might fit into the aesthetic so that you have that nice visual going down your street.”
Some municipalities have a complaint-based enforcement system, meaning that if there are rules and regulations about what can be done in a yard, a neighbor has to complain about the situation before any action is taken.
A neighbor is less likely to complain about the situation if they know the gardener, and the garden is presented in a well planned and neat manner, she said.
“If you know your neighbors and know what they like and what their yards look like and if they like you as a person, even if your yard looks a little different than maybe every other yard on the street, they are probably less likely to complain if they know you,” Pratt said.
Owensboro resident Shirley Lambert has had a lifelong love of gardening, and it is a passion that has led her and her husband, Starling, to gradually expand their home garden throughout the front, back and side yards of the home they have shared for 42 years.
While she likes to focus on flowering plants rather than edibles such as fruits and vegetables, Lambert said she likes the pop of color that her yard provides. The extensive gardens have not caused her any grief, she said.
“I never had any problem with anyone saying they didn’t like anything I had or anything like that,” she said Friday.
Walking through the well-labeled, brick-lined flower beds at her home, Lambert said her advice to new gardeners is to stay away from hanging baskets, which while pretty, are labor intensive.
“They think, I want to start gardening so I am going to go buy a big, beautiful hanging basket; too much commitment,” she said. “You have to water them every day.”
Lambert said that while her flower beds require a significant time commitment and are a lot of work, there is no place she would rather be than in her own garden.
Pratt said those that would like to plant some vegetables in a more visible section of their yard can incorporate some flowers into the garden as well. This way, the sole focus is not on the vegetables and the flowers will also provide good pollination.
“Really taking time to think about color, texture, bloom time is really important to making your yard more ascetically pleasing,” she said.
Those that are still new to gardening can start small, with a plan in mind for how to expand their home garden over time.
“Do a few things at a time, but have this big picture map in the back of your head,” she said. Plan to add things overtime and that way you kind of acclimatize people to the difference.”
Nathan Havenner, Messenger-Inquirer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 270-228-2837