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Permaculture • Homesteading • Organic Gardening • Self Sufficiency • Sustainability

Edible Landscaping: 7 Things To Consider Before You Start Planting

With rising food costs and even occasional food shortages in the store, many people desire to grow at least some of their food. The problem is that many homes are located in areas with strict regulations or very limited space. The solution to these problems is edible landscaping which can create beautiful curb appeal, a wonderful use of space and prolific food production.

Edible landscaping is a viable option for most homeowners, however there are a few things you should consider such as the design, possible infrastructure, paths, what you should plant and the maintenance required. Let’s dive into these considerations and see if edible landscaping is right for you.

Edible Landscaping

What Is Edible Landscaping?

Often referred to as foodscaping or a potager garden, edible landscaping often grows food in areas traditionally used to grow ornamental plants such as front yards. It can also refer to growing a garden in a less traditional way that the common monoculture garden that plants in rows.

Fruit trees, berry bushes, edible flowers and herbs are common components in edible landscaping. However, perennial and annual vegetables are also included and laid out in a way that doesn’t draw attention to the fact that they are producing food but rather are used for their beauty to create a desired look.

7 Things To Consider Before You Start Planting In Your Landscape

1. The Design

It may be important to design your edible landscape to look like a more traditional plant landscape. This may be to appease a Homeowner’s Association or local city ordinances.

It may be that you just want to design your edible landscape to look more traditional because you are going for a certain curb appeal perhaps to keep up property values or to grow food in a way that doesn’t draw attention.

The design of your edible landscape should take into consideration color, height, density, companion planting, soil type and condition, and sun requirements.

2. Infrastructure

The design should also take into affect surrounding infrastructure and may even require additional items to get the look you are going for.

Buildings, fences, retention walls, sidewalks, etc. might be some of the existing infrastructure you will need to design around. Quite often these permanent structures can be beneficial to the look and function of your edible landscape by dividing the design and creating an edge effect.

Trellises, birdbaths, boulders, fountains, and lawn art are just a few of the items that can be added to complete the edible landscaping look and add to the overall function by giving support or inviting beneficial insects and birds to the area.

Side Garden

3. Pathways

Creating paths throughout the landscape can be both beneficial to your food production and bring a lot of beauty to the garden. By putting in pathways along the edible plants it will make maintaining and harvesting the the plants much easier and keep soil from compacting.

There are many beautiful options for pathways, you can use mulch, gravel, flat stone, pavers, or even keep the pathways grass. When building pathways you have to consider the maintenance involved in keeping them weed free and mowed down if grass.

4. What Do You Like To Eat

Probably the most important thing to consider when deciding what to plant in your edible landscape is picking food you will actually eat. This has to be considered above everything else or it will not have the benefit you are looking for.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to gardeners about there garden only to find out that they are growing things they don’t like to eat just because other gardeners are growing those plants. Grow plants with a purpose that will serve you or your homestead.

5. What Grows Well In Your Zone

You must also grow things that will actually grow where you plant them. There are things of course that you can do to get plants to grow from other zones like creating microclimates or using planters that can be moved but this will complicate the maintenance of your landscape.

You can find your growing zone by visiting the website https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/. There you will find an interactive map to help you. Most plants you purchase will have the growing zone as well as other important information on the plant label.

image of plant hardiness zone map
https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/

6. What Grows Well Together

You will also want to consider plants that will grow well with other plants as some don’t. This is known as companion planting. Some plants can cause other plants to not grow well but usually the reason might be that some plants just have different sun, nutrient and water requirements.

There are some great resources available to help with determining ideal companion plants like websites that are dedicated to this information. I however like to keep books on hand that help with this information, one of my favorites is a book titled “Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden” by Jessica Walliser.

Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden
  • Walliser, Jessica (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 12/22/2020 (Publication Date) - Storey Publishing, LLC (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. How Much Maintenance Will It Require

The maintenance of your edible landscape is also something to consider, especially if you are limited on how much time you can dedicate to it. Choosing the right plants that grow well in your zone, setting up the proper infrastructure like a drip irrigation system and focusing on perennials over annuals are things that can save a lot of time.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that edible landscaping can be a huge benefit in growing a lot of food in a limited space and can also be a beautiful addition to your home. It is also ideal for strict city ordinances and homeowners association properties. Hopefully you will take into consideration these suggestions and start growing food in your landscaping and enjoy all the benefits thereof.

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