Neat, straight rows aren't your only options for growing vegetables and other homegrown food. When edibles are tucked into landscapes, right alongside ornamental plants, gardens present exciting new opportunities.
Edible landscaping, sometimes called foodscaping, uses edibles as integral parts of landscape design. By weaving edible plants into your landscape, you can enhance its unique beauty — and still enjoy abundant harvests.
Most common edibles can thrive in ornamental landscapes, provided they get the care they need. Plan to accommodate all your traditional garden favorites, but don't stop there. With beauty and productivity as goals, turn to edibles that bring more to the landscape than just food.
Look at edibles as you would new ornamental plants. Consider their mature size and the shapes, textures and colors they'll add from their leaves, stems, branches and fruit. Think ahead to how harvests will affect your garden design. Will entire plants disappear or just the pops of color from fruit? By thinking the edible season through, you can plan, plant and fill in accordingly.
Most edibles require at least six to eight hours of full sun per day to produce their vegetables and fruit. They also need at least 1 inch of water per week from rainfall or irrigation to stay hydrated, plump and healthy. Whether planting landscape edibles in the ground or as accents in hanging baskets, trellised pots or window boxes, make sure these needs are met.
Edibles also tend to be heavy feeders that need supplemental nutrients. Regular fertilization with gentle, natural-based plant foods can help improve your landscape's health and productivity. Trusted pesticides such as Sevin® insecticides help keep edible landscapes harvest-ready by controlling insect pests, too. With neighboring edibles and ornamentals sharing similar needs, it enhances care and simplifies labor.
To get the most enjoyment from your edible landscape design, you'll want plants that add visual beauty and taste great, too. The following are just a few examples of edibles that bring multiple benefits to your landscape and your table.
Grown just for a single season, annual edibles get replaced each year. This means ever-changing opportunities for new edibles and new designs.
Capable of coming back year after year, these edibles can be used in design just as you'd use perennial flowers.
Long-lived shrubs with edible fruit are backbones of edible landscapes, enhancing garden views year-round.
By weaving landscape-worthy edibles into your ornamental plantings, you get all the benefits of homegrown food plus unique, inspiring gardens of your own design.
Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions carefully, including guidelines for treatable plants and pre-harvest intervals.
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1. Richard Jauron, Julian Beiwel and Linda Naeve, “Edible Flowers," Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, March 2013.
2. Western Agriculture Research Center, “Aronia," Montana State University.