Edible landscaping is the practice of incorporating food-producing plants into a landscape. It is a way to combine fruits, vegetables, and herbs into the aesthetic design of flowers, shrubs and or grasses on a property. The inclusion of food into a landscape design eliminates the need to make tough decisions between having a vegetable garden or a beautiful space of sweet-smelling blossoms and groundcovers. Creating an edible landscape can be hidden or made known; it can be a private haven for escape while eating berries off a raspberry brush or a large fruit orchard accented with exotic flowers. The practice of incorporating food-producing plants into an aesthetic landscape design is an optimal way to have fresh produce and a refined looking space simultaneously.
There are many benefits to incorporating food crops into an aesthetic landscape. These benefits can help in the creation of multi-functional growing space. Consider the following advantages:
- Provides the need for food and desire for beauty
- Creates better access to fresh food
- Creates a space to use the senses (smell, touch, taste, sight)
- Encourages biodiversity in the soil
- Provides a haven for people, beneficial insects and birds
- Mimics the natural environment (different species living together)
How Can It Be Done?
Companion planting is a method in landscaping that offers optimum use of space and mutuality, particularly in edible landscaping. It is a practice of planting plants close together to create maximum functionality in a growing space. This way of growing is done to create shade, deter pests or control unwanted weeds. For example, planting beautiful large head yellow sunflowers directly behind a border of luscious green lettuce is a mutual relationship within the growing space; the sunflowers offer shade for the lettuce while the lettuce blocks harmful weeds for the flowers. Another example is planting ornamental trees as a canopy that embraces cover crops of strawberries, tall walking onions, high yielding bush bean plants, and fragrances of mint herbs companion planted together to create biodiversity within the space. Companion planting is a beneficial method in edible landscaping providing scenery, optimum use of space and mutuality among plants and vegetable crops.
Warmer climates are more desirable places to practice edible landscaping but colder climates are not exempt. Zone 4 is an ideal cold climate region for incorporating vegetables and fruit into landscaping. Cold hard vegetable crops for this area are leeks, carrots, onions, and lettuce just to name a few; these crops are shade tolerant and can be planted under deciduous trees such as pine and burning bush in a landscape. Another idea for zone 4 edible landscaping is a cucumber arc with the chameleon plant ground cover at the base during warm months; the cucumbers can be replaced with climbing pea plants for the fall season. Zone 4 is an ideal region to incorporate vegetables in a classic landscape.
Consider incorporating vegetables in your aesthetic landscape design for optimum space usage and functionality. It is a great way to have fresh food and refined scenery.