Edible Landscaping: Grow Your Plants and Eat Them Too!
By Kimberly Martin on 4 April 2014
Atlanta — Anyone with a large backyard knows that cultivating it into a beautiful, enjoyable space is one of the most fulfilling pursuits of being a homeowner. Compliments on the beautiful trees, lush greenery, and flowering buds make your chest swell with pride. However, have you ever considered utilizing that beautiful space as one that gives back not only beauty, but also food? Many homeowners may not consider growing vegetables or fruits in their backyard because they picture a garden plot that takes away from the overall landscaping, or they think it will be too difficult to maintain. Most edible landscaping arrangements, however, only require a little additional watering and maintenance—and if arranged well, the fruits and vegetables won’t take away from your landscaping at all. In fact, they may add a unique, beautiful flair unlike anything your friends and family have ever seen. We’re here to show you some edible landscaping designs others have created and offer a few tips on how to begin should you find yourself inspired.
Tomatoes are a popular fruit (or vegetable, if you’re on that side of the argument) to grow and cook with because they’re so common in recipes. Because it is a vine plant, you can build a garden tower from wood or even create/purchase trellises or wire teepees for the vines to grow vertically on. This both saves space and creates a unique, leafy green addition to your landscape that will eventually bear those juicy, red fruits that add a colorful flair to your garden and your meal.
Lettuce is another popular, frequently-used ingredient in your meals for tasty salads and more. To add a touch of green to your landscape that also benefits your kitchen table, plant varieties of lettuce either in creative, winding rows or even as a decorative edge along a bed of other plants and flowers. By planting different varieties you not only get different textures and flavors in your meals, but also diverse colors that enhance your landscaping.
Vertical Tube Planters
Similar to a Tomato Tower, a vertical tube planter can help you grow vines with smaller, lighter fruits and vegetables that save space and spice up your yard with a unique accent perhaps near your fence or patio. You can make these from any tube-shaped materials you have, such as PVC piping! Once the plant begins to flourish and bloom the lush green of the leaves and spots of colors from your strawberries, grapes, peppers, or whatever you choose will cover up the tubes and transform them into whimsical green towers throughout your landscape. When the harvest comes, those fruits and vegetables will make delicious snacks or accents to your dinner.
A popular method for growing fruits and veggies in a small yard, raised beds can add a beautiful touch to any landscape design. You can make the beds out of any material—wood, stone, or even bales of straw or hay—that compliments your design and then plant any number of edible plants in the beds. Nothing says you can’t also include decorative flowers for a colorful flair amongst the food, so feel free to adorn your beds with any kind of seasonal flowers or other small plants and truly make these beds a part of your design.
Bushes, Herbs, and Trees
Lastly, for smaller accents in your yard, you can always plant fruit bushes, fruit trees, or herbs to add that last unique flair to the landscape. Fruits like blueberries and currants, for example, grow into beautiful bushes that blend in well with a design, while fruit trees can fill up a particularly naked spot in the yard and produce tasty, healthy snacks throughout the year (depending on what kind you plant). Herbs can be grown in pots and boxes and placed on your patio or deck for a design that extends past the green grass and into your entertaining space for a touch of extra color and a nice aroma. Get creative!
You’ve looked at our examples and surfed the internet looking at other designs and ideas and have thought, “Okay, I’m inspired!” So now what? How do you go about integrating edible landscaping arrangements in your own yard? We have a few quick tips to get you started and help those creative juices find some direction.
- Decide what you like to eat and cook with. Don’t plant a bunch of fruits or vegetables you hate or don’t usually use in cooking—that’s not the point! Edible landscaping adds beauty and function to a yard so you can utilize what the plants give back to you. If you like blueberries, start planning where to plant blueberry bushes. Want to cook with more peppers? Build a trellis or a tube tower for them to grow on. Make it work for you.
- Research the plants you want to use. Certain vegetables and fruits require specific soils, fertilizers, and sun exposure. If you have plants with similar needs, plan on grouping them together somewhere in the yard that meets their criteria.
- Use these fruits and vegetables to your landscape’s advantage. If your landscape is lacking or a spot in the yard feels naked, utilize edible landscaping to fill in the gaps. This is certain to only add beauty to your landscape rather than take anything away.
- Start small. Don’t plan a total landscape upheaval if this is your first time working with fruits and vegetables in a yard. Begin in small areas and with simple accents and work your way up as you gain experience in cultivating these plants.
These ideas and tips barely scratch the surface of what you can do with edible landscaping. If you’re nervous about starting but you still want to try, seek advice and help! A local landscape professional can not only help you plan your edible landscape and integrate it with your current design, but they can also do the planting and cultivating for you depending on the services they offer. Find a trusted, local expert in landscaping who suits your needs and let them work with you to create a landscaping design that not only looks beautiful, but gives something back to you as a reward for all your hard work.