One of my favorite things about edible landscapes is that they are purposeful. They beautify the land and exist to serve those who care for them. There was once a time that edible landscaping was an essential part of survival. It was a time where growing your own vegetable, fruit and medicinal gardens were what was necessary. Now that was, of course, long before the evolution of the super grocery store and other modern conveniences. However, there seems to be a shift in thinking happening in our country, as more and more people begin to embrace a life of sustainability. The beauty of an edible landscape is that no matter how small a yard you have, there is always room to plant a few lovely plants to nibble on.
Why Plant an Edible Landscape?
There are a number of good reasons to incorporate edibles into your landscape, here are just a few.
To enjoy the taste of fresh home-grown fruits, vegetables and herbs
To increase your food security and reduce your dependence on outside sources
To save money
To grow heirloom or interesting varieties
To beautify your yard
To learn more about sustainable living
To get outside and interact with nature
Edible Landscaping Ideas
One fantastic way to liven up your landscape with edibles, especially if you have limited space, is to grow herbs and small vegetables in pots and window boxes. Build a few small raised beds and scatter them around your yard. Raised beds allow you to control the nature of the soil and look lovely in the landscape. Plant nasturtiums, borage, calendula and violas and use the flowers in salads. Cabbage in and among other annual plants makes a lovely accent and wild strawberries are a beautiful and tasty way to cover large opens spots in the garden. Choose fruit trees, and berry bushes to replace ornamental trees and bushes, or create living fences with edible bushes. You can even grow dwarf fruit trees, which yield regular size fruit, in half whiskey barrels. Plant a small herb garden at your front door to welcome guests and tuck a variety of lettuce plants in and around other flowers in your garden. For an attractive and tasty border, try planting dwarf marigolds with curly parsley. To add some height to your gardens, you can build a teepee trellis for pole beans all summer long.
While most ornamental plants require remarkably little care, once planted, an edible landscape begs for a little more of your time. However, part of the joy of having an edible landscape is spending time out in it. Visit your plants daily and be sure to provide water during dry spells and plenty of organic compost. Most edible plants require at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to produce and be healthy. Soil should drain well and not be boggy. Annual fruits and vegetables need a lot of organic matter and plenty of nitrogen.
Edible Landscaping Tips
If you are new to gardening, start small
Choose dwarf trees over standard trees
Choose plants that are appropriate for your growing region
Be patient with shrubs and trees that may take few years for a large harvest
Always start with a landscape design and a plan, this makes planting a lot easier and keeps things organized
Think outside of the box and be creative
Plant what you enjoy eating
Research other edible landscape plans to get ideas