Every gardener regardless of garden location experiences some type of loss due to pilfering. In most cases the culprits are of the four legged or winged variety. In some locations more so urban than rural the home gardener may also encounter pilfering by the two legged thief. Yesterday's post discussed turning the front yard of a residential home in an urban setting into a edible garden. The problem with pilfering from the two legged thief becomes more of an issue in this particular location. Greater exposure through proximity to the street and foot traffic increase the chance of pilfering. Security night lighting and street light also draws attention to the front yard garden.
The first thing as a gardener that you have to accept that there is always going to be some loss due to pilfering. You can take the necessary steps to minimize loss but you can't protect your garden twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Front yard gardens grown in raised beds over 2 feet high will curb any problems from rabbits, possibly slugs and snails but not squirrels, raccoons and starlings. Front yard gardens present a bit more of a challenge in that some of the methods you could use as control in backyard or rural settings such as a motion activated water repellent or low level electrical fencing. A dog may not be a feasible choice as well. Bird netting can still be an effective pest barrier as can a large plastic owl. The owl is effective against some birds and small rodents but may also scare off beneficial birds and song birds.
A short little aside: I have 2 motion activated sprayers that have proven somewhat effective but not always as in the case of the bunnies frequenting my last garden. The garden before that was right in a subdivision. I had an outdoor camera to watch the garden and ponds indoors to get pictures of the wildlife that visited the ponds. A neighbourhood cat decided the ponds was it's own personal sushi bar so I bought my first motion activated sprayer (Scarecrow). This device gives a quick, noisy spray of about a cup of water when it detects motion effectively scaring away the intruder. One day I switch the camera on just in time to see the hydro meter reader head back towards my tomatoes but not in time for me to get outside to warn him of the spray. Oh my now his reaction was priceless! I love to hear his explanation for being wet and tomatoless.
Fencing with a lockable gate is one solution to prevent pilfering in front yard edible gardens. If the gate is kept locked when you aren't in the front yard then you will have to make alternative arrangements for mail delivery which can be as simple as a locking mailbox on the inside of the fence with mail slot on the outside. Many of the homes in the down town Key West area use this method and even design the fence and gate to blend in with their garden design. They add to the overall characteristic of the house. Front yard fencing is common in many municipalities whether it is for edible gardening or just a regular grass patch. It is usually in the form of low picket fencing (3 feet tall), wroth iron (4 - 5 feet tall) or chain link (4 feet tall) often softened by flowering vines or climbing roses. Climbing roses on fences are particularly effective at discouraging anyone from climbing over the fence. Before installing any fence be sure you know where the property lines are and your municipal bylaws as to what you can install.