Turning a Lawn into a Lunch

by | Apr 15, 2016 | Permaculture, Sustainable Living | 4 comments

Lawrence Halprin once said that “The great challenge for the garden designer is not to make the garden look natural, but to make the garden so that the people in it will feel natural.”

Looking at my front yard, I knew that things needed to change. I didn’t feel natural in it. The small pine trees were out of place, and other ornamental plants just looked a little odd for a permie gardener. I also knew that I was not too keen on mowing the lawn every Sunday. So, remembering Bill Mollison words that most lawns are purely cosmetic in function and that the owners of lawns should be taxed, I decided to turn my lawn into lunch.

Front lawn feeling out of place.

My Mumma has fond memories of growing up in Adelaide, in an area of urban gardens. On her way home from school, she would graze on the neighbours’ fruits and organic tomatoes. So we both decided it would be fun to create a front garden that kids could pass and grab a quick snack on the way home from school.


A dear family friend was visiting and said she would lend a hand to permablitz the front yard. So after a quick visit to the local greenhouse, my mum and Nicola came back with several fruit trees. A little exaggerated, maybe, but we decided to plant them all.

Plant list

Making the garden

The first step was to remove most of the ornamental shrubs and a few pine trees. The mulch of the trees was used to backfill a raised garden bed. Nothing went to waste. Removing lawn sounds easy, but in fact, it is a daunting task. After marking the pathways, we turned all the grass sods with a garden fork. Some people don’t bother turning the sods, but we wanted to fasten the process of killing the lawn.

Five years later!

We went the traditional permaculture way and placed wet cardboard onto the turned grass sod. Compost and soil were placed on top of the cardboard to raise the bed slightly. This was slightly unconventional gardening, but we wanted to get the fruit trees in before the rains started. Then we added mulch, mulch and more mulch.

As we are an impatient bunch, we planted straight into the cardboard, ensuring no grassroots left near the hole. A seedling was planted and the hole filled with mushroom compost with the focus on giving the babies a good start 🙂

A couple of months later, so many cherry tomatoes and chillies. Sage is growing wild next to the daisies. Eggplants and basil living happily next to each other. Some of my neighbours love it, whilst others seem a little horrified. However, I have organic fruits, herbs and vegetables in place of a green mat.

And yes, whilst my Mumma was weeding, a small neighbour passed and asked for some tomatoes. So my mum filled up the little girl’s t-shirt with tiny tomatoes and glanced at me, looking pleased with herself.

Hot Buzz: Lawn to Lunch is made up of a group of people who have a passionate interest in promoting backyard self-sufficiency.

Author: Laila Helena


  1. jgeerlings

    Beautiful and more bold than what I’ve done in front. But my grandson is currently learning that strawberries come from the front yard.

    • DNA Reboot

      Hi, I’m a big believer in gardens, small, big and even tiny. It is the best thing to see the little ones eating from the garden and learning where things come from by exploring with their tastebuds. 🙂 Great work. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  2. Sam

    This is incredible! So much more useful, and so much more you than a flat green lawn. I’ve missed out on your blog so I’m catching up. xxx



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