Landscaping as we generally think of it today didn’t become popular until around the 1700’s.
Manicured lawns, perfectly shaped shrubbery, greenery and colorful plants – plus water waste, high water bills and inefficient yard space that can work against a home’s efficiency. Not to mention the upkeep, and all for a lawn that provides mostly only an aesthetic benefit.
However, this idea of a landscaped yard is a stark contrast from utilitarian views of the space, employed for centuries by farmers, home gardeners and budget conscious residents.
Today, the lawn is one of the many areas that are being given a second look because its conventional design is no longer up to the environmental standard of less waste, more functionality.
Fritz Haeg is an artist with a wide range of accomplishments in various fields. His proactive solution to the wastefulness incurred by some lawn styles is a collection of uninhibited exhibits called Edible Estates, and this work has earned him a spot as a landscape revivalist.
In order to cultivate awareness of the issue of useless lawn space, his series Edible Estate Regional Prototype Gardens and their growth records have been established and displayed in installations and locations worldwide.
The concept was put in motion on Independence Day in 2005, and the first garden was sown in Salina, Kansas.
Prototype gardens are planted in front lawns with the help of local volunteers, completely replacing the existing outdoor space. Plantings take the regional climate and local characteristics of the site into account for optimal success. Seasonal gardens are also planted, taking advantage of year-round harvests.
Growing plots are designed and sown in partnership with the homeowners. They work with the artist to provide documentation of the gardening throughout the first year, journaling all of the necessary upkeep for upcoming exhibits. Some are produced in collaboration with agricultural professionals, local artists or community gardeners.
All of the gardens’ contents are completely edible and economical to initiate. Not only does this functional approach to a landscape save energy, it also eliminates water waste and runoff.
Edible lawns also contribute to the health of those who implement this approach, as there is access to healthier choices and sustainably produced, organic foods right out the front door. Additionally, homegrown foods cost a fraction of those at the grocery store, and have no packaging waste.
Following the initial start of the project, gardens have since been established around the globe in areas such as Budapest, Istanbul, London, Rome, Tel Aviv, Stockholm and several places in the U.S.
Rethinking the lawn with an Edible Estate approach, Haeg’s initiative is a blend of artful landscaping mixed with green smarts, allowing the space to be of service and used to its full capacity.
All images via Fritz Haeg.
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