Recently a Vancouver, Canada homeowner, Ken Dyck has done a fair amount of complaining about his neighbour Sara St. Vincent's urban garden. He has filed complaints with the City of Vancouver because he feels Sara's garden is reducing his property value. However, Sara and her housemates view their gardens as a way to live ecologically ethical lives. The goal of their tiny bungalow named The Farmhouse is to feed their house of five and maybe others too if their crops are successful. The city did issue work orders but Sara and her housmates complied so the work orders have been withdrawn with the restriction the property be kept neat and tidy. The City of Vancouver is quite clear that it encourages these gardening initiatives and hopes the two neighbours work out their dispute
There are actually two problems going on with this urban garden but it pays to be aware of problems you can encounter with urban gardening and likely moreso if you turn your front yard into an edible garden. A front yard urban garden can look out of place in a neighbourhood with tidy, manicured lawns, many framed by a row of spring perennials. It is imparitive thaat front yard gardens be kept neat and tidy at all times to prevent neighbour complaints. This really only shows respect for your fellow neighbours something that goes a long way towards neighbour relations.
The second problem here is Mr. Dyke does not understand why urban gardening is so important or if he does he has an axe to grind with Sara and her housemates. Urban gardens are here to stay and their popularity is growing as more people struggle with finding a low cost way of provinding organic fruits and vegetables for their table. Neighbour disputes are never any fun and they can esculate so it's best to use prevention tactics first. If you are wanting to turn both your front and backyards into edible gardens here are a few tips for you:
- talk to your neighbours - Letting your neighbours know what you are planning is just a nice way of keeping good neighbour relations. Sure you can go ahead and do what you want as long as it complies with municiple bylaws but that little bit of communication goes a long way toward preventing complaints later. Educating your neighbours as to how edible gardening is considerably more eco-friendly than a well manicured green outdoor carpet is key to living harmoniously and a few freebies from your garden never hurts.
- consider the aesthetics of your neighbourhood - It is amazing how much food you can grow in your front yard without it looking like a sore thumb in your neighbourhood. Low growing herbs, vining vegetables (squashes, cucumbers, beans and peas) and container gardening can all be worked into your front yard without being an in your face thing.
- fencing - Good fences make for good neighbours. Install privacy fencing around the perimeter of the backyard. That way any gardening eyesights neighbours don't want to look at will be shieled from them. In Key West most of the homes have gorgeous front yard fencing and this is not an uncommon thing especially in older neighbourhoods. Plant flower vines (eg. Trumpet, Clematis, Morning Glory, or climbing roses on the house side of front yard fences. This creates a friendly growing barrier that looks lovely while hiding the bare basics of front yard gardening from street view.
- know your rights - Always work within the municiple bylaws. Providing you are doing so other than creating a rukus there is nothing your neighbour can do as far as complaints go. If your neighbour continues to be unreasonable or esculates as long as you are on the legal side of the law there are other options available to you.