How to Create an Edible Landscape

by James SheaSeptember 20, 2018

Homeowners generally separate their garden from the landscaping. A garden is a distinct part of the property, and the flowers, bushes, and shrubs are scattered throughout the property. That has not always been the case. During World War II, many Americans planted victory gardens. The government rationed food, and people started gardens to help in the war effort. People plowed up backyards and turned old parking lots into gardens. The goal was to grow as much as possible in a limited amount of space.

In recent years, the idea of an edible landscape has become popular. Homeowners are ripping up their lawns and turning a property into a mixture of landscaping and edible plants. The idea is to use food as a landscape feature, much like the historic Victory Garden.

fresh vegetables

Here are some tips on how to incorporate edibles into your landscaping:

Determine Uses for the Property

When designing an edible landscape, you need to think about how the property is used. If you have kids and pets, the property will be treated much differently than if you are retired. You need to consider plants that can withstand the everyday use of the property. You don’t want to create a masterpiece and have the effort torn apart in a matter of months.

How Much Time are you Willing to Devote?

Like any project around the house, an edible landscaping takes time, especially when you do it yourself. You need to think about how much time and effort you want to dedicate to putting the landscaping together, and how much time you can spend to maintain the property. Weeding, watering, and pruning take a lot more time than you would think.

Challenges of Edible Landscapes

An edible landscape faces unique challenges. Often, you need high-quality soil to grow edible plants, and that might mean adding large amounts of topsoil and organic matter. Edible plants also frequently have greater water needs. You will need to make sure the entire area of the property where the edible plants are located has access to water. Finally, you must have direct sunlight for an edible landscape. Edible plants require a large amount of sunlight, they can not grow in shady environments.

Put Together a Budget

Landscaping costs money. You need to purchase plants, seeds, soil, mulch etc. and decide how much money and resources you want to dedicate to the project. It’s a good idea to put a budget together. You can start by looking at websites with examples of edible landscapes. You can also visit gardening centers and talk about your project. This will give you a sense of how much certain plants and seeds cost. Then you can decide how much money you want to spend, and put together a budget with the necessary expenses.

KISS

The old mantra KISS applies to an edible landscape project — keep it simple, stupid. Especially in the beginning, you don’t need to get carried away. You can start small and simple. You might want to only combine two or three different plants into one section of the landscaping. Also, selecting plants that are easier to grow. You shouldn’t invest huge sums of time and money into plants that might not grow. You need easy wins in the beginning. You can always try more adventuresome projects down the road.

Edible Landscaping

Make Sure you can Still Access the Plants

One of the key mistakes in an edible design is access. Unlike flowers and shrubs, you need to be able to move through the landscaping and touch edible plants. It’s hard to pull off tomatoes, blueberries, squash, and other food when delicate flowers and plants are blocking your access.

Balance the Landscape

An edible landscape is not a garden. It’s incorporating edible plants and traditional landscaping. You can add herbs, flowers, vegetables, bushes, shrubs, trees and grasses. You want to balance the number of edible plants with the other types of landscaping. That will give the property a more even look.

A Rainbow of Colors

You have so many options for color when you incorporate edible plants into your landscaping. Reds can be tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers. Blues can come from blueberries. Purple is lavender, eggplant, purple basil, and kale. Orange is pumpkin and edible flowers like nasturtiums come in a variety of colors.

Incorporate Artwork

Besides plants, it’s also a good idea to add artwork into your edible landscaping. Statutes and figures are always a great way to add some texture to landscaping. Old bicycles and wagons can be nice features as well. A small wheelbarrow could make a great flowerpot, and painted rocks could spruce up the look. You can be a little bit quirky with an edible landscape.

Landscaping with Intention

When approaching an edible landscaping, it’s best to focus and have goals. You aren’t going to conquer an entire yard in a weekend. You should have specific milestones that you want to accomplish in a short amount of time and go about accomplishing those goals with vigor. You will be proud of yourself when you reach those milestones.

Shares 0
About The Author
James Shea
James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.