Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Lawn to Veggie Garden


Before -- June

‘Having a casual, wild, productive, diverse, beautiful vegetable garden is frankly a lot more fun than watering and mowing and pouring pesticides on our lawns.’ Fritz Haeg

Another collection of photos from last year, shots of a lawn-to-vegetable-garden conversion we did. Before this one, we hadn’t had good success installing veggie gardens for clients. We’ve incorporated them into larger designs and helped with ideas for the layout and so forth, and a lot of our clients have already had an area of veggies somewhere in their yards, but the couple of veggie gardens that we had personally installed and planted just ended up being neglected and later converted to ornamentals. Veggie gardens seem to require a certain amount of personal involvement and DIY spirit; you have to really want to go out and dig and weed and plant, and the sweat equity of the installation seems to be part of the motivation for following through and making it a success. Anyways, with this garden we did the layout and the lawn conversion around the beds, and left the installation and planting of the veggie beds to the client. It was a lot of fun to go back and see what got planted and to hear about the harvests.

After -- Late June

After -- Late June

The installation was actually pretty simple and easy. We dug out a little bit of the grass in the corner near the gate, but for the most part we left the lawn in place and just put the paths, boxes, and plantings on top of it, laying weedcloth in the places where we wanted gravel, cardboard where we wanted plants or veggie boxes. The clumps that we did dig out we buried at the bottom of the raised beds underneath cardboard. None of the grass has come back, without using any chemicals or hauling any of the grass to the dump.

Late June

The raised beds are prefabbed from a company in Oregon, just plopped down on top of the lawn and filled with soil. The client is a good carpenter and would have normally built the boxes himself, but the logistics of the project were much easier with them ready-made. It’s a pretty slick design (the boards are modular, the pins that hold the boards in place can also serve to anchor hoops or stakes, the wood is a rot-resistant hardwood) and installation took only a couple of hours, one of those things where it’s easy to copy the design but even easier to just buy it. A nice aspect of this site was that putting the veggie boxes on the diagonal made them orthogonal to north.





December -- Favas Newly Planted in the Front Bed

There’s an architect, Fritz Haeg (he has a blog while he is in Rome on a fellowship), who has made lawn-to-veggie-garden conversions a big focus of his career. He has a book, Edible Estates, Attack on the Front Lawn, and there’s an interview on the ASLA blog from shortly after I did this project. Clearly, he doesn’t work in deer country, or his attack would include 8-foot-high fences, but it’s great to see someone really promoting the idea of changing lawn to edibles as a political, cultural, and environmental act.

13 Responses to “Lawn to Veggie Garden”

  1. January 10th, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Scott Weber says:

    Nice…so much better than the lawn! I think I’ll try the same thing, rather than try to dig out the compacted soil of my hell-strips.

  2. January 10th, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Katie says:

    Wow, I’m impressed all that was placed on top of the existing lawn.

  3. January 10th, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Dirty Girl Gardening says:

    Fabulous! I absolutely love it!

  4. January 11th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    noel says:


    loved seeing the before and after to this garden…the garden boxes are wonderful and easy containment and ability to maneuver around…thanks for showing the entire process.

  5. January 14th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    Nice conversion. So far it looks like the owners are pretty engaged. I know what you mean about veggie gardens taking more work. As soon as one crop ends it’s time to work on the next. And in this climate people have to stay engaged year round. It’s a lot of work, but I hope the owners agree that it’s worth it.

  6. January 14th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    ryan says:

    So far the owners are really psyched. When I took the December photo, they had just planted the front bed with favas, so they’re going year-round with it.

  7. January 16th, 2011 at 7:28 am

    fran sorin says:

    All I can say is that the transformation is incredible. I love raised bed edible gardens! No need to respond to this comment…I just wanted to let you know how inspirational seeing this is for me. Thank you! Fran

  8. January 23rd, 2011 at 10:22 am

    tina says:

    What a very wonderful transformation! It is extra special since no pesticides were used to get rid of the grass. I bet that homeowner is enjoying the new veggie gardens tremendously. I know I would!

  9. January 25th, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Brad says:

    That’s very cool they’ve actually kept up the garden. And the fact that they’ve done a winter planting is a very good sign indeed.

  10. February 2nd, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Pedras Decorativas says:

    Great work. You must of spent many hours, but it looks great. Thanks for sharing.

  11. February 8th, 2011 at 4:01 am

    susan harris says:

    Hey! I found you by your (perceptive) comment to my post on GardenRant about landscape architects. And I’m here to cordially invite you to repost terrific post on the Lawn Reform blog! (lawnreform.org) Susan

  12. February 8th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    ryan says:

    Of course, that would be great. We’re all in favor here of reforming the American lawn.

  13. February 16th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Garden Lily says:

    Yes, lawn is way overrated. What a beautiful transformation!

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