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Front Lawn Vegetable Garden Design – Sun Ray Garden

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Shawna Coronado's Front Lawn Vegetable Garden August 2012

This year has been a remarkably fabulous year for my vegetable garden even with the extreme drought situation, late frost, and general apocalyptic charm. I credit it to my secret soil additives and great mulch which are real water holders during a drought. This post details the basic design for this year’s garden so you might plan it for your own garden in the future.

Sun Ray Garden Design

For the last several years I have been following a basic planting design based on the above chicken-scratched drawing which has served as my evil master plan. To me the design looks like a sunrise and the different colors of plantings represent sun rays. A creative solution that anyone can create around a patio garden.

After I amended the soil in spring, I strung rope in straight lines to mark where the plants should go. Once planted, I mulched the garden, and watered in well. Letters A – E in the design are simply perennial plants like hosta and heuchera which grow in the shadiest part of the garden beds. As the garden “rays” continue around you can see where I have laid out the vegetables.

Below is the list of Plants I used to make this design. Note 1, 1a, 1b, and 1c fit in the giant #1 area in the design as rows:

Sunburst Design Front Lawn Vegetable Garden
1. 30 Swiss Chard Plants – Bright Lights
1a. 12  Broccoli Plants – Premium Crop Broccoli
1b. 30 Bull’s Blood Beets (note – not Bonnie Plants – grown from seed)
1c. 12 Red, White, & Yellow Onion Sets
2. 24 Hybrid Cabbage
3. 6 Yummy Snacking Peppers
4. 24 Pineapple Sage
5. 12 Brussels Sprouts Plants
6. 7. 8. 10. and 12. Ornamental tropical plants, not vegetables
9. and 11. Cabbage Plants – Mega Cabbage (OS Cross)
Starred Garden Border – 36 Yellow Marigolds

And so – I prepared for the apocalypse by growing vegetables in my front lawn suburban garden. Crazy? Maybe. I donate about 100 pounds of vegetables every year to local food pantries and focus on helping community, apocalypse or not. I hope you do too.

Happy Growing!

Shawna Coronado's front lawn vegetables

Special Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am letting you know that Jobes Organic Fertilizer,  Bonnie Plants, Organic Mechanics Soil, Midwest Trading, and Natural Industries supplied the plants, mulch, soil, and soil additives I used in this garden. I have used their products because I WOULD even if they had not given the products to me and they have produced great success. I donate a large portion of the vegetables I grow in my soil-improved garden to the local food pantry when harvested. All opinions are my own!

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  1. It’s nice to know that Bonnie’s Plant Farm will still be in business during the Apocalypse, and that the horticultural and transportation infrastrucures will both be functioning sufficiently well to enable the production and shipment of plants from Alabama to Illinois.

    Should this not prove to be the case however, a pronounced emphasis on open-pollinated and heirloom varieties would certainly prove prudent in the succeeding years, as the world draws to a cataclysmic close…

  2. ::laughing:: Indeed. Actually there’s a Bonnie nursery local to almost every area that sells the plants. For example, my plants came from Ottawa, Illinois.

    But that’s not the point of the write up. I was “joking” about the apocalypse. I wanted to show peeps how I designed a front lawn veggie garden in suburbia and how they can too.

    All cataclysmic predictions aside – veggies are good for you. 🙂

  3. What a gorgeous garden! And I’m so glad to hear you share your bounty with your community. Being able to share the harvest is one of the most rewarding things about gardening, IMO.

  4. what in the world are you going to do with 24 pineapple sage plants. i have one and it’s probably 4 ft high and 4 ft wide. do they grow as perennials there? this is the 2nd year for this one and if the old adage sticks–1st year they sleep, 2nd year they creep, 3rd yr they leap—i’ll have no room for my regular sage or most anything else. beautiful plant though. hummers are really lovin it.

  5. They ARE getting pretty huge. 🙂 Still haven’t flowered, however. They are not perennials here that I’m aware of. I’ll be pulling them out after this season no matter what and replanting a vegetable of some sort. 🙂


  6. Good for you Shauna, like the design. Shows that a veggie garden can be attractive as well as feeding you. Hope more americans follow your example!

  7. Just wonderful! I’m curious as to how much, if any, damage you get from critters nibbling on your goodies and if there’s anything you do to prevent that from happening. Thanks so much! Great job!

  8. LOVE your yard — am curious – have you had any issues withh neighbors or the city?? wondered as others have had difficulties. want to learn cities that welcome such things and use their codes as guides for seeking to adjust our local codes 🙂

  9. I’ve found they consistently flower very late and while they are good for hummingbirds and smell nice I find them not useful enough for the space they take.

  10. I remember hearing your story a while ago about your back garden and was so sad to hear of a city that didn’t embrace the idea of people improving the area in which they live. I count myself very lucky to live in a city that unlike my neighboring cities embraces sustainable landscape practices. When we moved here nearly 2 decades ago we wanted as much lawn as possible, as the years passed and we changed our priorities I’m very greatful that we paid the extra money to have a larger suburban lot, right around 1/5 of an acre. If I had a typical lot I wouldn’t be able to have my chickens. Our city is generous, we can keep up to 10, but the coop must be 20′ from all property lines, most lots aren’t big enough to comply with that rule. My city also discourages lawns, they will pay homeowners $1 per sf up to $1K to remove lawns and put in water wise landscaping. I have been increasing my veggie garden to cover the majority of my south facing backyard and I am now in the process of moving the edibles to the front yard. I removed the lawn a few years ago and the area was primarily covered with rock, but we have begun work on what my designer is calling a food forest. I will have a variety of fruit trees and shrubs and a lot of herbs with a mix of other plants that will be great companions for the edibles to attract benificials and hopefully discourage less desirable pests. My friends tease that I’m preparing for the zombie apocalypse, which isn’t completely untrue. I have no idea what the future holds, but we would be naive to think there is no way to think our normal supply chains can’t be interupted or that our income can’t disappear. I was the first in our circle to get a hybrid and because I had a favorable experience as gas prices went up I was able to show the benefit of a high milage car. I also hope that as food prices go up others will see my example and decide to grow a few things themselves.

  11. Thank you for the lovely note. Each city has different rules, so checking with the city is important to see how you can proceed.

    Whether you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse or for simply feeding your community – it is a good thing!

    Best wishes,


  12. I saw your garden the other day on P Allen Smiths Garden show, very nice garden!! Thanks so much for sharing with us, very good ideas and tips to follow!

  13. I did very much!! Now that I have relocated to a totally different climate, will have to do a lot of research on drought tolerant plants and flowers for this next year. Will miss all my flowers and fruit trees from my previous residence, so starting from scratch is a learning experience for this dry hot climate :). Definitely need to start my own composting bin! Here is to a healthy and happy New Year to you also!

  14. Hi – just out of curiosity, what are the cardinal directions of this design? Thanks

  15. I loved this article, which a friend passed on to me. Your gardens are just beautiful. Please check out my website to see some of my work. I grew up on the East Coast. Growing up in an Italian family with gardening being a way of life, I love the feel! I was also in a stressful work situation and had to leave! I had no plans but to rest!! Before you knew it, I started a little garden art biz! Again, the Italian family and stone masonry, lead the way!! I sell my goods at the French Markets in Wheaton, Geneva and Western Springs. Life is so much more fun and I can create whatever I want!!! Ha.

  16. I was curious about the neighborhood’s 4 legged friends, AKA little doggies, urinating in your garden. Have you had a problem with that in the past and if so what did you do about it or what would you suggest?

  17. I live in a private circle area where we all respect each others lawns and do not have a regular problem in my front garden with dogs.

    Behind the fence I cannot see what happens, but my neighbors never let their dogs tear up my garden – they are respectful.

    SO – it’s never been a problem. 🙂


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    Their grilling units are all quality, upmarket, top of the line, well constructed and designed.
    Gas grills for professional use are much more expensive and are bulkier.

  19. I do not recommend pesticides. This is an organic garden – I use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

    I do use insecticidal soap, which is 1 tablespoon of castille soap mixed with 2 cups of water. I spray insects with that. Large insects like japanese beetles, I hand pick and throw in a bucket of soapy water.

  20. Thank you for sharing your garden with all of us! I have a front yard similar in size and no HOA so I’ll be planning to do this for 2014! I live just outside Portland, Oregon. Hopefully our weather hear doesn’t change what I can plant too much. I’m new to this but really want to learn.

  21. finally, someone with clear-cut advice to get a novice started! Thank you, thank you!!

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