Food / Groceries, Frugal, Housing, Personal Finance, Relationships, Saving Money

Front Yard Garden: Your Frugality Is Nobody Else’s Business

butting in

The big news in my neighborhood this year is that someone has planted a vegetable garden in their front yard. Gasp! More than a few of the neighbors are bent out of shape about it, saying that gardens belong only in the backyard. However, the neighbor in question has a problem with that. The way her house is situated, her backyard gets very little sun while the front gets the perfect amount of light for a garden. Since she wants fresh vegetables, she did the thing that makes the most sense and planted the garden in the front. Now people are bent out of shape and telling her she must remove it.

There are two problems with this, though. First, it looks really nice. She did a wonderful job of landscaping the garden and working it in amongst shrubs and flowers so that it is very attractive. It’s not just plants and stakes in a patch of dirt. Second, and more important, there’s nothing anyone else can do about it. We don’t have a homeowner’s association here and there are no rules about landscaping. She’s free to put whatever she wants in the front yard. Since it’s well done, I don’t see the problem and even if it was ugly, it’s her yard and there’s nothing that anyone can say to make her change it. Legally.

That’s not stopping some people from piling on the peer pressure, though. Quite a few of the neighbors are leaving her nasty messages and a few of them have threatened legal action, or to call the city. To what purpose, I don’t know, since there’s nothing to be gained from either approach. Some have even started a movement to start an HOA so that, “Things like this don’t happen again.” I’m amazed that so many people think this is their business and are willing to pursue such measures against an attractive, legal, garden. (I’m also amazed that these people have this much free time.)

Over the years, though, when it comes to frugality, I’ve learned that a lot of people get very interested in other peoples’ business. A clothesline can trigger a war amongst neighbors. Working on a car in the yard for a few days can make people gnash their teeth. Heaven forbid you should do anything really strange like a keep a chicken or two, or install a solar panel on your roof. And if a neighbor sees you using coupons in the grocery store or shopping in the thrift store, you might have to deal with a nosy conversation that begins, “Are you guys okay? I saw you scrimping in the store and just wondered if your husband has lost his job or something.”

What you do to be frugal is no one else’s business. (Similarly, if you want to blow a wad on designer clothes, that’s no one’s business, either.) As long as you are operating within the rules of your community, you’re free to do what you want. If the rules don’t prohibit gardens in the front yard or clotheslines, you can do what you want. If you want to shop in thrift stores so you can travel six weeks per year, that’s your business. (Your neighbors are probably secretly jealous.)

It always frustrates me that being frugal seems to require you to stand up to others and to put up with all sorts of pressure. People don’t like those who do things differently. It threatens them and makes them uncomfortable. If you’re doing things that go against the norm, people are going to try to make you conform. (You thought you got past this when you left high school, didn’t you?) They’re going to get in your business and try to find the root of your abnormal behavior. Job loss? Is your marriage dissolving? Did you blow your savings on the lottery or something? When they can’t find a cause, they’re going to try to lead you back to the land of the normal, spendy people. When you won’t go, they’re going to get nasty.

What you do to better your financial bottom line is your business. It’s sad that you’re going to have to put up with the intrusions of others in order to do what you need and want to do. However, as long as you’re within the rules, you can tell them that you won’t be changing and they might as well get used to it. You can be the one laughing last when you’re debt free, retired early, and doing the things you want to do, and they’re still shackled to their day job by money concerns and their only idea of fun is tormenting the neighbors.

(Photo courtesy of ilovememphis)

13 thoughts on “Front Yard Garden: Your Frugality Is Nobody Else’s Business

  1. I live in an English village. Here I have plenty of neighbours with vegetable patches at the front, some keep chickens and bees, people tinkle with their cars, I look out and see a range of solar panels. The people here are fantastic and very friendly. All the different ways of people is what gives the place character and it what I love about the place.

  2. Amen! My parents put pink flamingos (the tacky plastic kind) in their front yard just to taunt some nosey neighbors. It was great, and actually got lots of chuckles from their more mellow friends.
    My only problem with front yard gardens is, depending on your neighborhood, the garden is exposed to theft, dog meanderings, etc. unless you have a fence. I would also have a problem if the gardener used toxic pesticides. Otherwise, MYOB.
    Likewise with other lifestyle choices (including frugality). If someone is so bored they have to nose into your business, pity them!

  3. I love the idea of a garden instead of a lawn. I love the idea of any attractive landscaping or hardscaping instead of grass.

    I do hope your neighbor enjoys her garden immensely, and does not allow herself to be bullied.

  4. These people need to get a life. I’ve had a front yard garden for three years now, for the same reason, more sun in front. Fortunately, it’s still very private and no one can see it because it’s woodsy along the roadside.

    IF I had to live with people like you described, I think I’d move.

  5. People put down hundreds of pounds of herbicides to get rid of dandelions and clover, idiots. If you say anything, they give you a blank look or ignore you. They over fertilize, pesticide and herbicide. Their homes and yards are a toxic dump/waste site and they complain about a garden designed to look like its a regular flower garden, get a life people. Obviously this is a pet peeve of mine.

  6. I had neighbors like that once. I mixed tomatoes and peppers in with my perennial and annual garden. They were opposed to the idea of it, but seemed to really like it once I started showering them with baskets of free homegrown tomatoes. Lawns are a waste. Planting gardens front and back used to be common practice. We need to get back to that!

  7. Just thinking . . . that you can make your plantings . . . pretty . . . much like the flower beds . . .

    It’s doesn’t have to be row plantings that is for mass farming efficiency purposes anyway . . .

    but . . . then the neighbors complaints may become . . . but you can’t be able to eat anything in the front yard . . .

    seems like some people are just not happy unless someone is miserable . . .

  8. I had a front yard garden for many, many years and no one ever said boo to me. I have seen more and more of these front yard gardens popping up around town the last two years. They are all tasteful and usually in raised beds. And vegetables can be just as pretty as flowers, sometimes. There is nothing wrong with edible landscaping. There is something very wrong with neighbors who try to bully someone who is doing something perfectly legal on their own property, just because they don’t like it. I would be afraid of the people coming into my yard and spraying poison on my vegetables or pulling them up at night if they were that nasty about things. A fence and motion lights might be a good idea.

  9. When I learned that in America there are often restrictions against hanging out washing I was surprised. This also surprises me. The person has made the effort to lay the garden out nicely – but good for her.

  10. This is happening in other areas but the authorities are overstepping their reach.
    Please sign the petition to make Oklahoma law enforcement stop breaking the law and restore this woman’s garden. Thanks.

    NaturalNews Insider Alert

    Dear NaturalNews readers,

    A woman’s huge collection of edible landscaping and medicinal herbs was intentionally destroyed by the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yet again, a bunch of brain-dead bureaucrats have declared war on self-reliance and natural medicine!

    City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, destroys woman’s edible landscaping with over 100 varieties of medicinal plants
    Wednesday, June 20, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

    “(NaturalNews) An Oklahoma woman is the latest victim of government terrorism after City of Tulsa code enforcement officials came to her house and illegally tore up her entire edible garden, which contained over 100 varieties of medicinal plants. Denise Morrison was in full compliance with local laws concerning her garden, and yet city officials proceeded to both violate a court order, and willfully deny Denise of her legal right to grow food on her own property by illegally destroying it.

    KOTV, which was the first to break the heartbreaking story, explains a situation that is becoming disturbingly common in America today. A phantom “neighbor” allegedly complains about the victim’s yard, which prompts overzealous city officials to conduct a witch hunt that includes coercing the victim into complying with their unlawful demands. When said victim refuses and tries to fight back and reclaim her legal rights, the city proceeds to trespass on her property and destroy it, along with her livelihood.

    For Denise, this is exactly what happened when a “neighbor” complained about her edible garden, which she just so happened to be using to naturally treat her diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. In this garden were strawberries, stevia, several varieties of mint, apple trees, pecan trees, walnut trees, grapes, lemons, garlic, and chives, to name just a few — and each of these plants had a specific purpose in Denise’s life, whether it was simply for nourishment, or for the prevention and treatment of various diseases.

    Learn more:

  11. So whatever happened to the land of the free? The way our economy is going we all may have to put vegetable gardens wherever we can put them. And to think during WWII it was considered patriotic to have victory gardens. We are getting to be a nation that obsesses over nothing.

  12. I was also wondering about the ‘code’ enforcement effect. There was a movement to have front yards that would not require watering by having naturalized low water plants. Yet anything over 12 inches is a code violation in some places.

    There were books about this and then stared reading of a few people who had neighbors refer to these plants as ‘weeds’.

    Most of the naturalized front yards of edibles and plants look beautiful and are productive and save resources but neighbors or HOA’s took that to task.

    @Lisa thanks for the link about the woman who had a fantastic front yard garden. The trees should not have been a problem. If she had any space in the backyard there are excellent books on square foot gardening, growing a lot in a small place, and even using the hanging baskets for plantings.

  13. Tell your neighbor to check out the website Food is Free. They are encouraging people to plant gardens in their front yards. Maybe your neighbor won’t feel so all alone. If there is any way of supporting her, Facebook or Pinterest post let us know. Some people have way to much time on their hands.

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