As the weather feels increasingly autumnal, you may be tempted to update your yard. A great way to redesign your garden and back deck area is to incorporate edible landscaping.
What is it?
Edible landscaping is the integration of edible plants, such as fruits, vegetables and herbs, within an ornamental garden design. This creative yardwork is unique and sustainable.
Brainstorming before buying seeds will help you stay organized. Think about what kinds of plants you cook with and which ones you like to look at. Don’t plant zucchini if you never eat it. A good way to go about planning your garden is to create an idea scrapbook. This can be physical or virtual but should include images of edible landscaping that appeals to you. Add photos of your yard now so that you can plan how to fit the plants, pathways, fountains and other features into your outdoor living spaces.
Home gardening magazines are great sources for inspirational images. A compiled collection of gardens you love will help you move to the next step as you will have a goal in mind for your yard. Feel free to add notes to your scrapbook. They will help you detail precisely what it was in a photo that you loved.
If you plan to do a lot of cooking outside, think about setting up a kitchen on your enclosed porch. This way, you can pick food fresh from your backyard to be prepped and prepared just steps from its origin.
Map it out
You’ll want to make notes on your yard. The direction of prevailing winds, which areas get various amounts of sunlight, where you’ll position your outdoor kitchen and the actual space you have available are all important factors in planning your edible landscape. Once you have an idea of what you want and the space you have, you can start bringing your ideas together. Remember that certain plants need more or less light. A path of lavender plants shouldn’t be under a shady tree. That may be a better place for the water feature you dreamed up.
Elements of design
Edible landscaping works best with strong lines and structure. Fruit, vegetables and herbs add more textures and colors than a decorative garden. Use pathways, patios and curving beds to organize your yard. These elements play with the eye in a pleasing way once everything comes together.
Your garden doesn’t have to be dominated by edible plants. In fact, a purely vegetable landscape would require exorbitant amounts of time and energy to maintain. Just think of the process as small-scale replacement. Where you considered putting a flower bed, a row or two of lettuce would do nicely. Plan your arrangements based on aesthetic. If you like the way carrot tops drape, use that with a taller plant to give some height and depth.
You’ve mapped and chosen your plants and set aside some space on your deck for an outdoor kitchen. Now plot it out. Use stakes in your yard to zone off different sections of your garden. This is your last planning element and it allows you to see the landscape before it is actually planted. If you need to make any last-minute changes, they can be done here. Tie strings between the stakes to truly add a mock perimeter. Once you begin the planting process, elements will come together. Watching your herbs bud might inspire you to create other outdoor design ideas.
A little extra
Edible plants require a little more effort to maintain than ornamental plants. The reward is well worth the work, however. Maintenance such as mulching, watering, weeding, feeding, and pruning are all necessary. Harvesting and cooking come after harvest. So start small. Don’t take on a lot at first. But as you get the hang of how much produce you use and the time it takes to care for it, you can add more.