One of the most instantly rewarding projects we’ve completed this season is the installation of a veggie patch in our front yard. It’s funny but the decision to sacrifice a good portion of our lawn for a much less conventional venture felt nearly rebellious. I, the ultimate square, for whom rules were written because they make me feel warm and cozy when strictly followed, had chosen to buck tradition and do something a little “wacky”.
And I’m not going to lie. It felt good.
Now that the plants are starting to fill in we are starting to see our vision take shape and I’m thinking maybe it wasn’t so wacky after all. The coolest and most unexpected benefit of this experiment is all the conversations we’ve already had with neighbors and passerby. It’s started to feel like what it was intended to be and that is a little bit of a revolution.
A revolution to take ownership of the land, whatever the size, and by giving it love watch it give back many times over. It gives such a different sense of your space when you can walk outside instead of going to the grocery store and harvesting dinner.
So in light of these ramblings, we wanted to show how quick and easy it is to do so YOU can do it too! We chose to go with a simple raised bed for our front yard patch for several reasons. For one, we like the aesthetic of the wood planter boxes. Two, we were able to have more control over our soil, and lastly it helps to keep pests (and little hands!) off the plants. In theory.
First, we started with building the frame. We chose to save a little money on the wood by using regular pine for the box and saved the pricier redwood for the trim and ledge pieces. The ledge is one of my favorite aspects because it doubles as seating space so I wouldn’t skimp on this.
Next, placing a barrier for moles and other underground rodents was vitally important. This was a lesson I learned after much heartache when I lost an apple tree and several plants to those elusive underground furry thieves. We used chicken wire overlapped several times under our weed barrier to ensure good coverage of the whole space.
To prevent water loss we decided to place a layer of plastic along the inside walls of the planter box. I am generally anti-plastic anything, but after my experience with our prior planters and watching water just pour out the sides I thought this would be worth the compromise.
Finally we took a trip to our local supply store and got a full load of organic garden soil which the boys cheerfully spent a Saturday morning shoveling into the box.
I may have admitted to this before but in the past I’ve often been guilty of sporadic plant watering.
I know, it’s shocking.
And then when I do water I worry about how much water I’m using so I don’t give plants enough water…. (we live in California after all, and I’ve been in drought mode so long I hardly know how to flush a toilet). All this combined and I often have unhappy plants.
This year is THE year though for our garden (especially since we’ve been eating a plant-based diet), so we decided to go all out and put in an automatic drip system. This has literally been my (and my poor plants) best friend and favorite thing in the whole wide world I’m pretty sure.
Just a few weeks later, the results have been astounding!
I would say this is probably our most successful garden experiment yet. Everyone who walks by comments, and I love to think that it will inspire others to do the same in their yards.
For those who are truly interested in building something similar, I’ve included plans and cost break-down below so you can go ahead and get started! If you do use our plans, please tag us at menderandmaker on Instagram or post your pictures in the comment section below and let us know; we’d love to see how it turned out!
Thanks for reading and happy planting!