Pretty Delicious! Landscaping You Can Eat
The latest trend in growing food is both beautiful and functional. Imagine the trees, bushes and plants that line your walkways and add attractive greenery to your yard performing double duty by also producing a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables for your table. It’s called edible landscaping.
First, determine which vegetables and fruit varieties will grow well in your region and make a plan. What about planting a leafy herb or vegetable along the edge of your driveway, patio or walkway? You can also encircle a bird bath or existing water feature. Edible plants can be used to form a divider, border, or hedge of varying heights. Take a look at what you have out there now, and decide what could use a little “lift.”
Use an attractive rose trellis or lattice to vertically grow climbing vegetables such as peas or beans. Wire mesh fences can be disguised and used as a vertical support to grow cucumbers, grapes, or blackberries. Vertical growing saves space, keeps the produce cleaner and healthier, and is less susceptible to rot or insect infestation. It also makes watering, maintaining, and harvesting easier. An arch or arbor is another attractive vertical feature that adds beauty to any landscape while supporting grape vines.
Asparagus – Delicate, airy tops provide a light border that can be planted in combination with another vegetable or herb.
Beans, Runners – Grow up an attractive trellis.
Butter Lettuce and Cabbage – Naturally forms attractive rosettes, plant in beds or formal rows.
Carrots – The lacey tops can provide a delicate edging.
Corn – Plant in a row as a divider or privacy wall with shorter plantings in front.
Cucumbers – Plant to disguise unattractive wire fencing or grow on a lattice or trellis.
Kale – Plant in clusters or as edging.
Peas, Snow and Sugar Snap – Grow climbing peas on vertical trellises or lattice.
Peppers, Bell and Hot – Peppers grow upright and can easily add rich color to established flowerbeds.
Strawberries – Plant compact varieties in hanging baskets. A 3-tier strawberry pyramid is an attractive and efficient addition to your edible landscaping. This compact feature takes up less space than row gardening, yet it can house up to 50 plants.
Swiss Chard, ‘Rhubarb’ Variety – The colorful red stems and long bright green leaves add color and interest to any landscape. Grow in beds, rows, as a border or edging and can be planted along with other vegetables.
Tomatoes – Vining varieties can be grown in hanging baskets or on a trellis with other flowering vines. Tuck a tomato plant into an established flower bed with vibrant red and yellow flowers, to coordinate colors.
Fruit Trees and Fruiting Bushes
Add variety, vertical interest and flavor to your landscaping by planting fruit trees and fruit producing bushes. Imagine strolling across the lawn, sampling your favorite fruits: apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, figs, or blueberries. Select one or several types of fruit suitable for planting in your growing zone.
Lacking yard space for large fruit trees? Apple, apricot, cherry, peach, pear and plum trees come in dwarf varieties that can be planted directly in the lawn or in a large container such as a tub or a half-barrel. Some fruit tree varieties are self-pollinating. When in question, check with your local fruit nursery, or plant at least two different cultivars to ensure cross pollination.
The good news about planting dwarf plants is that they start producing fruit earlier than standard size varieties because they generally grow faster. Dwarfs require less pruning too. Although a dwarf tree will produce less fruit than a standard size tree, the fruit will be the same size as the standard. Dwarfs grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet, while semi-dwarfs reach a height of 8 to 12 feet. In comparison, standard trees grow from 15 to 25 feet tall.
When planting dwarfs, you can plant four or more trees in the same space that you would normally plant one standard size fruit tree. And the fruit is easier to harvest from a dwarf too. Check with your local nursery or county extension office for varieties that grow well in your region. Don’t forget to mulch the tree after planting to keep it from drying out in the summer and to protect it over the winter.
Take a walk around your property and consider where you could add fruits and vegetable plants. Note the amount of sunlight each area receives to determine suitable plantings. Sketch out a rough plan and make a shopping list. After a trip to the local garden center, you’re ready to make your lawn beautiful and delicious!