Gardening

Tips for Planning an Edible Landscape

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Are you thinking about growing a few edibles but don’t know where to start? I have a few Tips for Planning an Edible Landscape that might help you get started.

If you don't have room for a vegetable garden you may want to consider creating an Edible Landscape. Use fruits and vegetables as your feature plants and your garden landscape will be both beautiful and practical.

At my last house I had a (roughly) 20′ x 20′ vegetable garden with raised beds. It was situated in a sunny corner of the yard. All vegetable growing happened there. At times it was messy and there was nothing that hinted at it being an edible landscape. It was just edible.

At this house, I don’t have that luxury so I am looking for ways to create an edible landscape. Something that is both beautiful and functional. Last year I toyed with some integrated edibles such as onions, lettuce, garlic, and herbs. I still have a few of these going right now.

However, I have been fascinated with the idea of creating an edible landscape with ornamentals and annuals thrown into the mix.


What Defines an Edible Landscape?

An edible landscape is the art of integrating edible plants along side ornamental plants using the same elements found in traditional landscape design. An example would be planting a fruit tree in place of an ornamental tree.

In my evolving edible landscape I have managed to incorporate a bay tree in a pot and an olive tree. I’m hoping to add a peach tree next year.

If you don't have room for a vegetable garden you may want to consider creating an Edible Landscape. Use fruits and vegetables as your feature plants and your garden landscape will be both beautiful and practical.

Planning an Edible Landscape

Anytime you start planning a landscape you should really start by first planning your hardscapes (paths, decks, covered areas, fences, playscapes, etc.). Once you know where these things will be placed, then you can decide on plant placement.

If you don't have room for a vegetable garden you may want to consider creating an Edible Landscape. Use fruits and vegetables as your feature plants and your garden landscape will be both beautiful and practical.

Where we live, water is becoming an ever-increasing issue. Do I want to use my precious water allotment on a lawn or would I rather put it to practical use and water something that has a purpose (like food!)? I believe a well-thought out edible landscape should include ways to water efficiently. Plan to use rain barrels or an Olla to efficiently water your edibles.

Remember, when planning an edible landscape, not everything has to be edible. Take advantage of shady areas where vegetables don’t do as well to grow shade-tolerant ornamentals.


Keeping it Looking Good

If you don't have room for a vegetable garden you may want to consider creating an Edible Landscape. Use fruits and vegetables as your feature plants and your garden landscape will be both beautiful and practical.

Anyone who has ever grown edibles knows that vegetables and herbs will vary in size, texture, and shape. When planning an edible landscape you will need to keep this in mind. Have spreading plants that will fill in while seedlings are getting started. Or, once the edibles have finished producing, the spent plant will likely need to be removed. Garden art or potted plants are a good way to fill in these blank spots.

I use metal art, rocks, a whirly-thing, and anything I can find when I want to fill in blank spots. I just move them to the latest blank spot.


What to Plant

If you don't have room for a vegetable garden you may want to consider creating an Edible Landscape. Use fruits and vegetables as your feature plants and your garden landscape will be both beautiful and practical.

Ah, the big head-scratcher. Now that the landscape has a plan ~ what do I plant? Well, you need to start with plant size. I’m thinking something that gets really tall like corn would need to be at the back of the landscape. Likewise, small plants such as lettuce would do well as border edging.

You want to pay attention to the plant’s mature size, shape, and color. Think about how the plant will look during its different stages and then blend in other plants that will complement.

  • Plant a few bush beans against a foundation or fence. Then, in front of these plant some colorful annuals.
  • Allow cucumbers to climb on a fence and plant bushy peppers in front.
  • Surround a bean trellis with annual flowers such as zinnias.
  • Blend rainbow chard into a large perennial bed.

Long Term Planning

Obviously, edibles aren’t static. They start out really small, can grow, climb, and spread, then fizzle out after the harvest. If you plan for all of these plant stages and then add in annuals you will have a constantly evolving landscape that is always interesting and completely practical.

Give edible landscaping a try by blending in a few proven winners for your area. You’ll be surprised at how much interest it will add to your landscape.


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16 Comments

  1. Over the last couple years, I’ve been slowly adding edibles to our yard. This year, we put five raspberry plants in along a fence to create a mini hedge. I can’t wait until they start producing. Thanks for these tips; they’ll be handy as I keep growing our edible landscape.

  2. I’m a complete beginner and I found this post to be awesome. I never would of thought to plan around my “hardscape” areas like my porch and pathways. You’re a natural at this stuff. Oh, and I’m gong to use your idea on using the ornamental plants in all the shaded areas of my garden. Wish me luck!

  3. I am glad I found this (on Think Tank Thursdays, by the way). I am getting ready to do work on my own tiny yard to grow vegetables and other what-not, so this was an awesome post to find. I love your goat!!! Did you name it?!

    1. Her name is Euphemia (Feemie for short). When they sell the babies this year, she will get a little one called Eudora (for being adorable).

      ps. Eulalie would also be a great name for a goat!

  4. Another great idea idea is incorporating edible flowers and herbs. Ornamental and delicious! A quick google search can quickly get one a list. A lot of edible ornamental plants make great bee forage.

  5. I love edible gardening! I have a large herb garden situated so that is the first thing anyone sees when they approach the house. Edibles can be uniquely beautiful! Thank you for the tips!

  6. I love this! Beautiful pictures. I started flowers along with my veggie seeds this year because I just want to be happy too. Ha ha. I’m still nervous that any of it will live through the bunnies that roam the neighborhood, though.

  7. Great ideas! We have 2 flower beds in our yard that we have turned into edible landscapes and it has worked out great! We have raspberries, rhubarb and chives in one and then tomatoes adn zucchini in another.

  8. This really fits in with the idea of permaculture, which I’ve been reading a lot about lately. It feels like a lot of my attempts at edible gardening fail, but I keep trying! I’m thinking about taking a more “natural” approach and planting a sort of edible landscape that is composed in part of native growing edible plants (berries, wild teas, wild lettuce). We’ll see how it goes. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Love this post which has actual ideas. I have a large yard but can’t get hubby on board for raised beds. We don’t have a tiller and by the time he goes to rent one, it might be too
    late to plant. Lol. I’m to try this because it’s something I can work on myself. My problem is my beds are mulched so the dirt is horrible underneath. Some beds are baking hot but border sidewalks so too hot for lettuces. However where there is a will there is a way! I would love more vege combinations for using borders. Thanks for a great post!

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