Plant these edible landscaping ideas for a garden that's good enough to eat.
By Ann Wied
Waukesha County, Wisconsin
So, do you garden for beauty or for food?
Today, lots of gardeners are doing both by planting with edible landscaping ideas like these. If you’ve ever grown a tomato in a hanging basket on your porch, or tucked a little lettuce into your flower beds, you’re already in on the trend.
Planting vegetables and fruits lets you enjoy the freshness and flavor of fully ripened produce while controlling the quantity and kinds of pesticides and herbicides in your food. You can grow unusual varieties not found in stores, too, all without sacrificing an attractive yard or garden.
Edible plants can perform the same landscape functions as ornamentals—they come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to growing herbs and vegetables, think about growing fruit and nut trees or berry bushes. Some edible plants also offer beautiful blossoms, like fruit trees, and attractive fall foliage, like serviceberry.
Like all plants, edible ones grow best in certain conditions. Many but not all fruits and vegetables need at least six hours of full sunlight to thrive, and most do best in well-drained soils.
Challenge yourself to add one edible plant to each of your garden areas that meet those growing conditions.
Love the dogwood tree’s pink flowers? Consider a dwarf apple tree. Do you traditionally have a few flower container gardens? Add an herb container garden, or plant some herbs in with the flowers.
Toss edible blooms like nasturtiums, violas or calendula into salads; enjoy the pop of color that red peppers, kale and cherry tomatoes add to flower beds. Got an arbor? Try grapes instead of a flowering vine.
Just as with ornamentals, you’ll want to choose plants with an eye toward their size at maturity, their winter hardiness and how much maintenance they’ll take—because the most beautiful plants, ornamental or edible, are those that are thriving.
Ann Wied is consumer horticulture educator for the UW-Extension in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.