Everyone knows that a well landscaped yard can add beauty and value to your home. But why stop there? Why not enhance your yard with plants that are ornamental and functional? Why not edible landscaping?
There are several benefits to planting not only to beautify your yard, but also to feed your family. Nothing beats the taste of fresh, fully ripened food that you grow yourself. Think of the money you will save on groceries. And since you control the use of chemicals in your landscape you may also save by having a healthier family. Growing your own foods will allow you access to a far greater variety of foods than you will typically find in your local grocery store. Perhaps the greatest benefit to edible landscaping will be the fun you have planning, planting, harvesting and eating!
By now you may be wondering how you can begin your own edible landscape. Take a look at your space. Do you have a large yard or a small corner? Is the soil rich and well drained? Do you have an already established landscape or are you starting from scratch?
Any size space can be used for edible landscaping. And soil can be amended if it isn’t suitable to the types of plants you wish to grow. Soil test kits can be purchased or you may be able to take samples to your local extension office where they can tell you what nutrients your soil is lacking.
Now comes the fun part. Choosing your plants! Start with the trees and shrubs. Tree selection will depend on your space. There is an amazing variety of fruit and nut trees and you may quickly feel like you will need a larger yard. If you have a large area and are looking for shade trees you may choose a beautiful and stately pecan which grows up to 50′ feet tall. Or maybe you are looking for something to brighten up a smaller area. A dwarf or semi-dwarf apple tree may be just what you need. A dwarf apple tree grows only 8-10 feet tall yet still produces full sized fruit. The semi-dwarf is a little taller at 12-15 feet but either tree is easier to manage than the standard size apple tree which grows from 18-25 feet tall. Be sure you read catalog descriptions or talk to the knowledgeable folks at your local nursery. They will help you to decide if you want a self-pollinating tree-which you would choose if you are only getting one tree-or if you need two varieties that will pollinate each other.
Do you want a hedge for the boarder of your property? How about blackberries or raspberries? With colors that range from red to gold to purple, they will make a lovely and tasty hedge. Highbush blueberries also make a productive shrub. Alternate these fruits all around your yard and you will enjoy them for years to come.
Maybe you would like an arbor or you have a bare fence or wall suitable for a trellis. Consider the planting grapes. You can choose seeded or seedless in several varieties. Enjoy table grapes, or make some jelly or even your own wine.
Now you have your larger plants. You are ready to fill in the smaller places. When most people think about landscaping they think about flowers to add color. But many flowers are edible too! Pansy and gem marigolds are beautiful and will brighten up any salad. And don’t forget herbs! Many herbs produce beautiful flowers and are wonderful additions for your cooking. Many are delicious in teas and may also have medicinal value. Try some of the showier varieties like German chamomile with their tiny white and yellow flowers. Or chives which produce purple flowers but also add a little pizzazz to your baked potato. Borage also produces purple flowers which not only attract bees to your garden, but also look lovely floating in a cool drink. If you want to add fragrance to your landscape along with beauty, try lavender or sweet mace. The possibilities are endless!
Edible landscaping isn’t any different from traditional landscaping. Do your homework and you will be rewarded for years to come. So take a look at your yard, consider your goals and enjoy the many benefits of enhancing your yard and your diet with edible landscaping.