Edible Landscaping has been making a real resurgence in the last number of years, but what exactly does it all mean? Well it can be as simple or complex as you like, but it boils down to incorporating food producing plants into your residential or business landscapes. Growing fruit or nut trees, herbs, vegetables, & edible flowers alongside your ornamentals, to create an aesthetically pleasing but also tasty design. Basically you are combining decorative with delicious.
If you are reading this you’re probably thinking about adding some yummy patches amongst the ornate in your landscape, so what exactly should you be considering before you venture down this garden path?
How to pick the ideal location edible landscaping
First you need to have a good look at your space. What kind of light or shade is it getting? How much space is available? While both of these can be manipulated to some degree, either by the use of trellises or a bit of staggered planting, it’s good to get a feel for the starting point so you can plan accordingly. For instance, you don’t want to plant your spinach in the middle of summer, in the blazing sun if you plan on eating it, because it is sure to “bolt”. Which means it goes to flower and is not very tasty then. But hey, maybe that aesthetic is what you’re looking for too.
Time & Care
Like all plants, edibles have certain requirements at specific times. Generally they benefit from the addition of good quality compost and if starting from seed they will require consistent watering for good germination. Also, some young plants can be more attractive to predation by things like slugs or flea beetles, so prevention or attention must be paid early on. Harvesting time is another important consideration, certain edibles are best eaten at specific times. Think about when & what kind of time you have before you start planting so you can choose plants that fit your lifestyle as well as theirs.
What are you looking to get out of your edibles?
Is it dinner or beauty? Or perhaps a bit of both? Many edibles can offer you the benefit of both! Blueberry bushes for example can offer you or the birds a delightful snack , but also display similar characteristics to a burning bush by becoming a pleasing red in the fall. If you’re planting to eat, then plant what you enjoy eating, just like a vegetable garden. If you’re looking for certain attributes like color or structures, then look for edibles that offer those qualities you appreciate in ornamentals & let the local wildlife or kids forage if they’re not also to your personal pallet.
How to put your edible landscaping plan into action
Now that you have the What, When & Whys of things straight, how are we going to put it into action? This is where your style preference comes back into play. Are you wanting to retain a bit of traditional order or do you lean more towards whimsy & organized chaos? Whatever your preference, you’ll want to create a balance of forms, textures & colors. The most intriguing gardens display a contrast of these factors by repeating colors & shapes. This gives your garden an appealing (& now edible!) rhythm.
Be strategic in your positioning, not all your tomatoes need to be planted together if you are looking to repeat red. You can choose alternate varieties of many herbs like basil, oregano & thyme, for delectable bright spots of colors in purples, yellows & lime greens. A wide variety of common & colourful flowers are also edible, like pansies, violets & roses, easily allowing you to have variety & symmetry at the same time. Some also have the added benefit of deterring pests like marigolds & nasturtiums do.
Every well designed garden has some nice focal points to draw you in. This can take many different forms, but if edible is your end goal, boy did your options just really open up! Pole beans & peas will quickly cover any kind of vertical trellis you can imagine. Cucumbers also grow well on trellises & there are tasty, little snacker varieties that require less support than an arbor appreciating full sized cultivar.
Trees & shrubs definitely add dimension to a landscape and there are SO many edibles to choose from in this regard. Some may pop to mind immediately, like apple trees do, but did you know that lilac & magnolia flowers are also edible? They also look particularly lovely in a homemade summer drink!
With such an abundance of beautiful & appetizing things to include in your landscape, get out there! Don’t be afraid to border your beds with chives, add color with swiss chard, or use a pole bean tower for a focal point. And definitely, definitely stop & taste the flowers!
Want to start incorporating edibles in your landscape, but would rather just do the eating part? Contact us & we’ll do the work for you! Be sure to mention your edible intentions when we speak.