Front Yard Garden

Get Busting!

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

As an avid gardener whenever I drive around neighborhoods I scope out the landscape in yards. It’s interesting to see the variety of styles, textures, and lack thereof. It amazes me when I see lines of beautiful homes on a street and invariably there are a few with minimal landscaping – like maybe a tree (dead) or two. There’s no cohesiveness between the landscape and home. The scene is disjointed. Now, I get that a lot of people don’t like to garden or feel that it’s a lot of work. However, any appraiser or real estate agent will tell you that a well planed and planted landscape can increase the value of a home by 10-15%. The home and landscape work together as a team – collaboration at its finest.

Fall is a great time to be outside. The heat and humidly of summer is gone and in many parts of the country the colors are incredible. Wander around your yard a bit with a new set of eyes. Imagine that you are a buyer looking to buy your house. What do you see? Is there a seamless collaboration between the style of your home and the landscape? Do your gardens, even if minimal, blend and flow with your home? The neighborhood? Does your house reflect your taste and the yard? Does the landscape support and enhance your home? If not, winter is coming and it is the perfect time to get busy on paper and plan some changes for next year.

Think how your home and landscape can complement one another. How can they better collaborate together to reflect your taste or that of your neighborhood? Pick up some books or magazines from the library for ideas. Landscapers are typically slow in the cold months and most will happily assist you with planning, often at reasonable prices. Ask your garden friends for their thoughts and ideas. In short, collaborate to make change and enhance your yard.

Collaboration is key in many areas of our lives. We see it in our gardens, neighborhoods, relationships, and our jobs. Take some time this week to take notice of how collaboration is all around us, or not. I’m guessing that many of us love the idea of collaboration, but see it lacking where we work. The concept is great in theory but tough to carry out in most organizations. There are often too many individual agendas or a focus on who contributes the most and can climb the ladder the quickest. Some companies reward these behaviors through their reward system or management style. Guess what? Collaboration begins with you! We can’t count on our employers to create collaboration; we need to step up as individuals.

I just finished the new book Collaboration Begins With You Be A Silo Buster by Ken Blanchard, Jane Ripley, and Eunice Parisi-Carew. In the usual Blanchard style this book is written in a story format which makes it an easy and memorable read. This book is perfect for anyone. It’s a reminder that we all have a responsibility to create and promote a special culture of collaboration in everything we do. We can’t rely on our employers to do this. We all need to take the leap to act in order to have an impact. Individually we can bring people together with our own style to make a difference and produce results.

I love the simplistic and memorable process the authors introduce to bust silos and bring people together. It’s easy and a 3 prong approach: The heart, the head, and the hands.

·         The Heart: This is who you are as a person and leader. It involves your character and intentions. It makes sense doesn’t it? You bring the inside out and impact others. We all do this every day. We show our love to our family. We nurture safety and trust.
·         The Head: This is what you know. It’s your knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes particularly about collaboration. This is where you involve others to create a clear purpose with sound values and goals.
·         The Hands: This is what you do. It’s your actions and behaviors. It’s what you do to empower others and build collaboration. Empowerment begins with you before it can be given to others. This is where you talk with others to build consensus.

Clearly none of these “parts” can function without the other. You need your heart, head, and hands to bring about change and build collaboration with others. Collaboration Begins with You effectively leads us down the path of collaboration with a variety of interesting characters. We see their insecurities and struggles. We earn how they change inside and effectively reflect that change onto others. We quickly see how the efforts of the whole are greater than the one. We see growth that brings about a collaborative culture, empowers others, uses differences to share a vision, and turns everyone into an empowered leader. Collaboration truly starts from within and emerges to destroy silos and build consensus.

Blanchard’s new book is well worth the reading journey. You will learn about yourself and others as you learn how to better collaborate. The book is an easy journey and offers a collaboration self assessment and best practices to lead you down the path. Stop bemoaning silos and begin change with a first step towards collaboration. 

Please get that landscape in shape next spring too! You never know who will be driving by………

Take Care of Your "Front Yard"

"In order to live off a garden, you practically have to live in it" - Frank McKinney Hubbard

Photo courtesy of Stewickie via

It’s probably beneficial that I garden in the country with the neighbors close enough, but not too close. I’ve concluded that I could never live in a subdivision because either I would drive the neighbor’s nuts or they would drive me out! I love to have the freedom to plant what I want where I want. It’s tough to keep everyone happy.  I have friends that live in great neighborhoods, but some of their stories about horrid home owners associations give me the chills! Some of the rules are odd and are designed to keep everyone, and every yard, the same with the need to get permission for small changes.  Getting permission to plant a tree or put in a new garden structure would keep any HOA busy and on alert if I lived in the area! 

One trend that is really catching on, but giving some neighbors heart attacks, is front yard gardens.  People are becoming more green and caring more about their environment. They realize that grass is just a huge water sucker and they are replacing yards with drought friendly plants. People in places such as California are being forced to pull out their lawns and replace them. Moreover, people are moving their backyards into the front yard by planting gardens. I’ve seen this movement more in the past few years. People are committed to eating better and demanding organic veggies. They can do this by paying higher food prices or by growing their own food. Many have opted to grow their own and make their gardens a center of attention intermingled with flowers in the front yard. It’s a healthy and proactive trend but not everyone is happy about it – perhaps even you? 

If you have been thinking of joining the front yard garden trend then congrats! Before you kill all your grass you need to check out a few things so that your neighbors don’t riot. First, check with local ordinances to verify that you can plant a front yard garden. Even though it’s your property, there may very well be restrictions. Second, check with your home owners association if you belong to one.  There may be rules against it or you may need permission. Ask first, not dig first. Last, Explain to your immediate neighbors what you are planning to do and why. Don’t surprise them. Offer some of your produce to get their buy in. 
What to consider when you move your backyard garden to your front yard:

  • *      Make it beautiful and incorporate fruits and flowers. Keep it weeded and well groomed.
  • *      Be respectful and don’t keep garden tools and wheelbarrows all over the yard.
  • *      Add some garden art, night lighting, and structures for climbers to grow.
  • *      Have some planted flower containers ready to slip into places where old plants were      pulled or look past their prime.
  • *      Plan for all seasons for your front garden, not just summer. Remember that people like    yards that are easy on their eyes.
  • *      Be courteous and give garden tours to gain buy-in.
  • *      Offer to help others start a front yard garden. Become the neighborhood expert.
  • *      Share share share your bounty.
  • *      Be friendly and positive to those around you. Be prepared to explain and defend your garden decisions.
  • *      Get some local press for your garden or get onto a garden tour to tout your space and gain acceptance.
  •         Be creative, have fun, and make it fun! 

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world” - John Le Carre


Just think about the amount of time that you spend at work.  You are most likely in an open environment or collaborative space because it’s the “in” way to work. You likely spend more time at work than at home.  I hate to tell you but some of you are really bad cube mates and slobs. Your area may be messy, stinky, a bit too personalized, and offensive. Your desk/cubical IS your front yard at work.  It’s the first thing that people see (or smell) and it says a lot about you. You really need to think about how it looks to others and how you can reflect “you” without offending your neighbors. Too many of us move our “back yards” to our “front yards” for everyone to see. Just like people who garden in the front yard in all the wrong ways only to anger their neighbors, think about how to BE a good neighbor with your “front” yard.


How to be a great cubical neighbor: 

  • *      Clean your area weekly – with real cleaning spray or soap. Germs are like weeds – keep them out of your “yard”.
  • *      Dump old food and wrappers. Dump your trash too.
  • *      Watch the desk room fresheners or your heavy Old Spice. Not everyone appreciates it.
  • *      Don’t come in sick and cough or sneeze all over. Ewww! No one likes diseased “plants in a yard.
  • *      Keep your piles neat or go green and have none. Be organized.
  • *      Know the preferences of those around you. If you know a clean freak sits next to you go above and beyond your usual cleaning and keep. Things. Neat.
  • *      Help to keep common areas clean and free of clutter or trash. Think of it as a community garden area and do your part to keep it nice.
  • *      Be flexible and open to change or suggestions. Don’t be “that” crabby ornery neighbor over the fence.
  • *      Personize your space but be respectful. My husband has a mechanical talking parrot in his cube that must drive everyone nuts. It squawks and repeats everything. Augh!
  • *      Be a friendly neighbor without being TOO friendly.
  • *      Bring in treats once in a while and be “neighborly. Bring your garden bounty in to share. No one can eat 35 zucchini and 28 tomatoes. Be generous.
  • *      Keep your voice and personal calls down. Some people drone on and on like barking dogs!
  • *      Knock or follow established polite protocols to talk with someone. Don’t just walk into their “yard” unannounced.
So. If you are going to move your “back” yard into the “front” yard, be prepared. Find out the rules, think of those that have to look at your space and live with it as well, and keep it neat and tidy. That’s what good neighbors do! Happy “front yard” gardening! 

Do you have a front yard garden? I would love to hear your thoughts or see your pics!