Most people who are lucky enough to have a yard or a garden choose to fill it with grass and flowers. Although there’s nothing wrong with doing this, flowers and grass don’t actually offer much apart from aesthetical value. If you’ve ever wanted to get more out of your yard or garden, look no further. You can consider edible landscaping.
Edible landscaping can be defined as the partial integration of edible plants into ornamental/decorative settings. In the simplest terms possible, it is simply landscaping done using edible/eatable plants. The main aim of this type of landscaping is creating beautiful atmospheres that have a purpose since you enhance your landscape and get eatable plants/fruits in the process. This landscaping concept is great because it can be applied anywhere regardless of the size of your yard or garden and you can get a variety of fresh and nutritious fruits, herbs and vegetables.
History of Edible Landscaping
Contrary to popular belief, this type of landscaping has been around for centuries. The concept is not as farfetched as most people would be tempted to think. For instance, many gardens in ancient Egypt featured flowers alongside vines, grape arbors, and fruit trees. The gardens acted as reliable sources of fruits and beauty. This, however, changed during the renaissance era when gardens were transformed into more formal spaces.
Edible Landscaping Today
Before the concept fizzled in the renaissance era, it had already traveled to other parts of the world. There are great examples of edible landscaping today in most part of the world. In America for instance, we have the Blackhawk Garden Park in Iowa which sits on a 9-acre piece of public land. The garden, which was initiated by Chris Rice, boasts of over 100 species of edible plants from gooseberry, Juneberry, and elderberry to hazelnut, butternut, native plants, pecans and Aronia berries. Manhattan’s Central Park is another great example in the U.S. The park has several dozens of eatable plants. Many households in the U.S. and the world at large have also embraced this concept. There is, however, potential to do more since the concept has a lot of incredible benefits discussed below.
You stand to enjoy great benefits from growing fruits, herbs, and vegetable in your yard or garden. The most notable benefits include;
1. A constant supply of fruits, herbs, and vegetables: Edible gardens offer a constant source of edibles.
2. Better Nutrition: Fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables tend to have more nutrients compared to those sold in supermarkets which have to be picked under-ripe and sold days or weeks after they are harvested.
3. Food Safety: When you have a homegrown garden, you grow your fruits, herbs, and vegetables in the healthiest way possible avoiding cases of contamination which are common when you consume food grown for agribusiness.
4. Cash Savings: It’s cheaper to grown your own home produce than buy it in stores. You also save on transport costs you would have otherwise incurred sourcing the produce.
5. Little Space Required: You don’t even need a large yard or garden. You can grow your produce in containers filled with soil.
6. Low Cost: The cost of growing your own produce is very small. You just need to buy seedlings in most cases and you can do everything yourself.
Now that you are aware of the incredible benefits of edible landscaping, let’s shift our focus to getting started. Below are some incredible steps to follow.
Step 1: Choose a Location and Outline
You can practice edible landscaping in just about any location you can think off. You can even start in your balcony if you don’t have a yard or garden. To get started choose the location of the garden bed, paths, fences, hedges, arbors and garden beds. If you are planing to plant using large containers, choose a suitable spot with adequate sunlight.
Step 2: Plan Your Style
Once you have an ideal location and an outline, plan your style. To help you do this, ask yourself questions like; do you want a formal/informal garden? Do you have a theme (could be colonial, Spanish garden etc.)? Do you want an open or enclosed space?
Step 3: Choose Your Plants
After choosing your location, outline, and style, it’s time to choose your plants. To do this effectively, start by listing your most favorite herbs, fruits, and vegetables that do well in your area/type of climate. You can consider cultural needs as well as the size, shape, color of the plant foliage, flowers, and fruits.
Step 4: Create Areas of Interest
Although your space will determine the kinds of plants you will be able to use landscaping, it’s important to create a long list at first then narrow down to suitable plants after making all the necessary considerations. Your interests should guide you once you have a list of ideal plants.
For instance, you can choose to grow rows of blueberry shrubs which produce a blazing fall color or a row of lettuce. You can also create a hedge of gooseberries, currants, and blueberries instead of a predictable row of lilacs on your driveway. Your possibilities are limitless. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild. There are ideal eatable plants for just about the most unique landscaping needs. Remember, not everything needs to be eatable.
In case you need some edible landscaping design and planting inspiration, below are great plant combinations and edible landscaping layouts/designs to consider.
a. Landscaping with Vegetables
You can plant vegetables using a series of raised beds featuring lined paths i.e. use a historic French garden design. Such a design will be beautiful and efficient. You can also experiment with clusters and blocks as opposed to rows.
Also, try matching vegetable color with flavors. For instance, you can alternate purple cabbage with white cauliflower and mix with hot peppers and annual flowers like vinca and marigolds. Remember, lettuce is a great edging plant. Pole beans are also great decorative vegetables along fences.
If you don’t have an ideal ground, you can use containers. Vegetables such as kale, lettuce, and patio-type tomatoes grow well in large pots. If you love vegetable salads, don’t forget to grow violas and nasturtiums.
b. Landscaping with Fruit Trees & Shrubs
Fruit trees and shrubs are great when you have some outdoor space. It is, however, important to note that there are miniature fruit tree and shrub varieties that are perfect for small spaces. Such varieties can be grown in large pots since they don’t grow too wide and taller than 5 feet.
Some perfect examples of fruit trees and shrubs to consider growing include strawberries, rhubarb, blueberries, currants, grapevines, and raspberries. Rhubarbs are very attractive. The same applies for strawberries. Rhubarbs should, however, be tucked into a flower bed or border while strawberries are being planted in long rows.
Blueberry and currant bushes are equally attractive. They are great for creating hedges. Grapevines should be grown over an arbor. Raspberries are also great examples of fruit trees to consider planting given their beauty and the high cost of raspberries.
c. Landscaping with Herbs
Rosemary is undoubtedly the most decorative herb of all herbs thanks to its cleverly shaped topiary and nutritional value. It’s a great herb to grow at home since it can be planted directly or grown in pots. Furthermore, it doesn’t require any special maintenance.
Other great herbs include chives which are very colorful and delicious in salads. You can plant chives in rows as a garden edging. Thyme offers one of the best ground covers for hot, dry and sunny areas. The herb is also perfect for its fragrance and ability to blend in with pavers and flagstones. Oregano is another great herb that spreads easily. To add more color, you can mix herbs with flowers.
The above information summarizes everything you need to know about edible landscaping from the definition and history to the benefits, how to get started and the best edible landscaping plants to consider. The concept has great benefits that span from protecting the planet and our own health to lowering costs and enjoying great savings on groceries. After going through the above information, you shouldn’t have a problem utilizing this concept. Remember, you don’t need a lot of space or any space for that matter to get started. You also have a lot of room to be creative.