In today’s world of economic uncertainties and occasional disruptions in the food supply chain, the concept of edible landscaping is taking root in many neighborhoods and homesteads. As we find ourselves yearning for self-sufficiency and the satisfaction of growing our own food, edible landscaping emerges as a delightful and practical solution. Let’s get growing!
Understanding Edible Landscaping
Edible landscaping is about trading traditional ornamental plants, like shrubs and flowers, for varieties that not only please the eye but also end up on our dinner plates. It’s especially handy in neighborhoods with strict Homeowners’ Associations (HOA) rules that usually discourage visible garden beds.
But it’s much more than just a gardening trend. Edible landscaping offers a unique perspective on outdoor spaces, turning them into versatile havens that cater to both our senses and our sustenance
The beauty of edible landscaping lies in the delicious assortment of fresh, organic produce it brings right to your doorstep. Grocery store visits become fewer, and concerns about where your food comes from disappear.
The benefits of edible landscaping extend beyond the joy of your taste buds. This approach to landscaping typically involves organic gardening practices, reducing the need for harmful chemicals and pesticides. It’s a harmonious blend of beauty and purpose, promising not just sensory delight but also a step towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Why Choose Edible Landscaping?
- Sustainable Perennials: Edible landscapes are a long-term investment. By introducing perennial plants, you ensure a steady harvest without the hassle of replanting each year. Fruit trees, nut trees, berry bushes, some herbs, flowers, and even select vegetables are perennials. These plants grace your garden year after year.
- Variety with Annuals: Edible landscaping is your canvas for painting a vibrant garden of colors, textures, and tastes. By incorporating annuals, you have the freedom to rotate crops every year, offering your family a diverse menu of fresh produce.
- Aesthetic Pleasure: When plants bear fruit, they put on a show. Edible landscapes offer a spectacle of colors, fragrances, and visual interest. Plus, many edible flowers enhance the garden’s aesthetics while serving multiple purposes, from attracting beneficial insects to repelling unwanted pests.
- A Joyful Journey: Gardening, no matter the scale, offers immeasurable pleasure to the gardener. Every step, from choosing the plot to reaping the harvest, is a joyful adventure. The act of nurturing your edible landscape connects you to the cycle of life and nature’s bounty, continually enriching your gardening expertise.
Fruit Trees as Edible Landscaping
Incorporating fruit trees into your edible landscape is not just about reaping a delicious harvest; it’s about adding a touch of natural elegance to your surroundings. The sight of blossoming apple, pear, plum, or peach trees in the spring, followed by a lush canopy of leaves, sets a delightful backdrop for your outdoor space. And let’s not forget the sheer joy of plucking fresh, juicy fruits right from your own garden.
Fruit trees add a layer of seasonal beauty and provide easily preserved good food. They are often used as the centerpiece of front lawns.
Try some unusual fruit trees like persimmon, pawpaw, or banana, if they will grow in your climate.
Edible Bushes for Your Landscape
Blueberry bushes, often the first choice for edible landscapes, are highly productive and versatile. These bushes typically start yielding in their second year, making them a popular option for both beginners and experienced gardeners.
Blueberries offer numerous advantages.
- Nutrient-Rich: Blueberries are considered one of the most nutritious fruits you can grow. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and dietary fiber.
- Versatility: Blueberries can be used in various culinary creations. They’re perfect for fresh consumption, making jams and jellies, baking into pies, and even crafting wines and liqueurs.
- Long Shelf Life: They freeze exceptionally well, and the fruits are at their sweetest when dehydrated.
- Container Gardening: For those with limited space, blueberry bushes can be successfully grown in elevated planter boxes, providing efficient use of space without compromising yield. Read our article to learn about growing blueberries in containers.
Rugosa Rose Bushes
Rugosa rose bushes are an elegant and versatile addition to any edible landscape.
- Fragrant Edible Flowers: Rugosa rose bushes produce beautiful and fragrant flowers. The petals can be used to add a delightful touch to salads and teas.
- Vitamin C Powerhouse: After the bush finishes flowering in the fall, it leaves behind rose hips. These rose hips are among the highest sources of vitamin C available and can be consumed raw or dehydrated.
- Multiple Uses: Rose hips are excellent for making jams, jellies, and herbal teas. They can also serve as a privacy or protective barrier in your garden.
- Low Maintenance: Rugosa rose bushes are known for their hardiness and disease resistance, making them relatively easy to care for.
Raspberry bushes are a celebrated favored choice for many gardeners.
- Ease of Growth: Raspberry bushes are relatively easy to grow, even for those new to gardening. Choose an ever-bearing variety for an extended harvest, starting in mid-summer and continuing until the first frost.
- Variety of Uses: Raspberries are incredibly versatile. Use them to create delectable jams, jellies, and preserves.
- Planting Considerations: When cultivating raspberries, be cautious about planting them within 100 feet of blackberry bushes. These two plants share common diseases carried by specific mites and aphids.
- High Yield: Raspberry bushes tend to produce bountiful harvests, providing ample fruit for your family’s enjoyment.
Elderberry bushes are a visually stunning choice for edible landscaping with many benefits.
- Impressive Growth: These bushes can reach heights of up to 20 feet when left untrimmed. In spring, they dazzle with star-shaped white flowers that develop into dark purple fruits.
- Immune Boost: Elderberries are considered one of the best immune-boosting berries available. They have numerous culinary uses, such as creating teas, syrups, wines, and elixirs.
- Storage Flexibility: Elderberries can be dehydrated and crushed into a powder for long-term storage. They also freeze well if you’re planning to use them for syrups or winemaking.
- Ornamental Appeal: Elderberry bushes offer an ornamental value with brilliant displays of reds, oranges, and yellows during the fall season.
Rosemary, commonly associated with herbs, can also serve as a striking and aromatic addition to your edible landscape. It’s one of my personal favorites. I often take its leaves and crush them in my hands when I’m outside working to enjoy the smell and benefits they bring.
Starting rosemary from seed can be quite a challenge. The germination process is slow and often unpredictable. For many, it’s easier and more reliable to buy an established plant from a local nursery or garden center. This way, you can jumpstart your rosemary garden with a healthy, thriving plant and enjoy its wonderful aroma and flavor sooner.
- Size and Growth: In warm climates, rosemary can grow as a shrub, reaching heights of up to 3 feet and widths of 5 feet. Its evergreen nature makes it an anchor in edible landscaping ideas.
- Versatility: Rosemary’s aromatic needles can be used fresh in a wide range of recipes, from savory dishes to baked goods. It’s a staple in many kitchens for its rich flavor.
- Rosemary offers clarity and calm to your senses. It enhances focus, reduces stress, and eases breathing. Aromatherapy with rosemary can help you find mental balance and tranquility.
- Attracts Beneficial Insects: Rosemary’s fragrance acts as an attractant for beneficial insects, making it an excellent companion plant for your garden.
- Ornamental Appeal: Rosemary’s vibrant greenery and distinctive aroma make it an appealing addition to any garden, contributing to both form and function in your landscape design.
This detailed insight into each of these edible bushes can help you make informed decisions when planning your edible landscaping. By choosing a variety of bushes that suit your region and preferences, you can create a bountiful and visually appealing garden that not only enhances your outdoor space but also provides an abundant harvest.
Enriching Your Landscape with Edible Flowers
Edible flowers are delightful in any garden. Not only do they add charm to your landscape, but they can also be a tasty addition to your meals. Here are a few edible flowers to consider:
Marigolds are annual flowers that are a common choice for edible landscaping. They come in various varieties, but not all of them have a pleasant flavor. Gardeners find them to be a perfect insect repellent.
- Edible Parts: The petals of marigolds are edible. The tasty varieties have a citrusy tang with peppery undertones. You can use them to add color and flavor to salads or sprinkle them over egg dishes.
Nasturtiums are among the most popular edible flowers, known for their versatility and mild peppery flavor. These annual flowers come in various breathtaking colors and are one of our favorite edible flowers in the garden because they also serve as a fantastic insect repellent.
- Edible Parts: Both the leaves and flowers of nasturtiums are edible. The leaves and flowers have a mild peppery flavor but are not intensely spicy. You can use them on pizzas, in salads, or as a substitute for lettuce.
Balsam flowers, also known as “touch-me-not” due to their exploding seed pods, can be an attractive addition to your edible landscape. We are especially fond of Peppermint Balsam as are the bees in the garden.
- Edible Parts: Both the beautiful flowers and leaves of balsam are edible. The greens have a taste reminiscent of mustard greens. They are said to be high in vitamin C, and their calcium content is like that of whole milk. Balsam can be used in various culinary creations, including soups, salads, and rice dishes.
Chamomile is renowned for its medicinal properties and makes a cheery, annual addition to your edible landscaping.
Chamomile can be used fresh or dried to make healthy teas, desserts, hot drinks, popsicles, salves, and more. In addition to its culinary uses, chamomile is known for its insect-repelling properties when grown in the garden.
- Edible Parts: The flowers of chamomile are the edible part. While both Roman and German varieties are edible, German chamomile is preferred due to its sweet taste, which is like apple blossoms.
Calendula, another annual flower, comes in a range of vibrant colors and offers a multitude of benefits. Calendula is an effective insect repellent in the garden.
- Edible Parts: Both the petals and leaves of calendula are used medicinally and culinarily. They tend to have a slightly bitter taste. Most often, calendula is used in herbal medicine, but it can be enjoyed in soups, salads, and rice dishes.
Safety Concerns in Edible Landscaping
When incorporating edible flowers into your landscaping, ensure that you use organic flowers. Many plants purchased at nurseries are treated with herbicides and pesticides, making them unsafe for human consumption. To guarantee the safety of the flowers, it’s advisable to add them to your edible landscape by planting their seeds.
Top Tips for a Flourishing Edible Landscape
- Know which plant diseases are prevalent in your area and choose plants resistant to them when possible.
- Selecting disease-resistant plants is a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy and thriving edible landscape.
- Consult your local extension office or visit a nearby farm and garden supply store. These resources often have information about the diseases that commonly affect plants in your area. They can provide valuable insights into the local gardening scene.
- Reach out to local gardeners who have experience with edible landscaping. They can share their knowledge about the specific diseases that pose a threat and recommend plants that are known to resist these diseases.
- Know your gardening zone and choose plants recommended for your area.
- Determining your gardening zone is essential for successful edible landscaping. Read our article to learn about gardening zones.
- Once you know your gardening zone, look for plants recommended for that specific zone. These plants are more likely to thrive in your local conditions, ensuring better results for your edible landscape.
- Plant what you like to eat.
- Growing food your family genuinely enjoys is essential.
- Consider experimenting with new varieties to add diversity to your garden but not something you know your family doesn’t like. This allows you to explore different flavors and textures in your meals.
- Create a list of your favorite fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. Prioritize the items that your family loves the most.
- Be sure you know the regulations for any HOA you may be a part of.
- If you live in an area where there’s a Homeowners Association (HOA), it’s crucial to navigate their regulations carefully.
- Obtain a copy of your HOA’s guidelines and regulations related to landscaping and gardening. Familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure that your edible landscape complies with their requirements.
- Consult with HOA: If you have any doubts or questions, consider reaching out to your HOA for clarification. They may provide guidance on what’s allowed and what isn’t when it comes to landscaping with edibles.
- Draw out your edible landscaping ideas in your garden journal.
- Planning and documenting your edible landscaping ideas is an essential step in the process.
- In every garden article we write, we encourage you to use and maintain a garden journal. You can sketch out your landscaping designs and record details about the placement of plants, sun and shade requirements, soil needs, and the heights of different plants in relation to one another.
- Review your initial sketches and make adjustments as necessary. The journal serves as a flexible guide that allows you to refine your landscaping plans until they align perfectly with your vision.
By following these practical steps for each of the top tips, you can ensure that your edible landscape not only thrives but also provides a bountiful harvest of delicious and healthy produce.
Now that you’ve got the basics of edible landscaping under your belt, it’s time to embark on your own edible landscaping journey. It’s not just about putting food on the table; it’s a journey of nurturing, growing, and savoring the fruits of your labor that feed not only your body but your soul too.
By seamlessly blending the beauty of nature with your gardening skills, your landscape can evolve into a thriving haven filled with flavors, scents, and visual delights. It’s the perfect way to make your yard stand out in the neighborhood.
So, why wait? Begin your edible landscaping journey today and create a garden that doesn’t just please the eye but also delights your taste buds. Whether you’re starting small with a few edible bushes or diving into a full landscape transformation, your hard work will bring life and sustainability to your garden.
Edible landscaping has the incredible power to turn your outdoor space into a bountiful paradise, and it all starts with your commitment to a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Happy Gardening!