Since his backyard doesn’t get much sun, Mr. Helvenston ripped out the lawn in his front yard and put the 25-by-25-foot, micro-irrigated plot there. The unorthodox landscaping went largely unnoticed for months, perhaps because he lives on a dead-end street next to Interstate 4.
Then, in September, Pedro Pedin, who lives in Puerto Rico but owns the rental property next door, visited with his wife and cast a displeasing eye on his neighbor’s front yard. “All the houses are pretty much kept neat,” Mr. Pedin said, “but his house looks like a farm.”
Mr. Pedin contacted the city, which cited the Helvenstons for violating section 60.207 of Orlando’s Land Development Code (failure to maintain ground cover on property) and set a deadline of Nov. 7 to comply.
One of the ideas floating around is to require homeowners who plant a front-yard garden to shield it from the street with a fence. Mr. Pedin, the owner of the neighboring house, said he would be “100 percent agreeable” to that solution.
But Mr. Helvenston finds the compromise objectionable. “A fence is expensive,” he said, digging in. “Now you just ruined my return on investment.”
While they wait for the city’s updated policy, the Helvenstons continue to tend their vegetable patch (they just harvested edamame) and to drum up support for the garden in their front yard and those elsewhere. “We didn’t want this to happen,” Mr. Helvenston said, in a warning shot to other communities, “but it’s a blessing. It’s gotten more people planting gardens.”