Most people are interested in some kind of self-sufficiency, whether it be lowering their grocery bill or cutting back on utilities – or both. Some just like the idea of being able to eat wholesome, homegrown foods. All of this can come from edible landscaping without sacrificing the aesthetics of your yard.
Edible Landscaping Benefits
The benefits of edible landscaping are enormous. Not only can a well-planned landscape (edible or not) look really good, but it can feed your family as well! Edible landscapes can provide food, shade, healthy outdoor recreation and family time, and more. They can also lower your grocery bill, increase family togetherness, be beneficial to health in many ways, and can provide organic food that you not only trust, but grew yourself!
Incorporating Fruit Into Yard Design
Probably the hardest part of putting together an edible landscape for most people is planning it without totally dismantling their current yard/landscape. If your yard already includes mature trees, healthy lawn, and beautiful flower beds, you may be wondering where you’ll fit in edibles without tearing down what’s already been painstakingly put there.
It’s best to start by planning in the late fall or winter. This is when your yard is at its barest and when you’ll begin thinking about the annuals or other plants you’ll have to replace next season. Those annual and maintenance replacements will be your starting point.
If your flower beds include a lot of annuals (as most do), then you can start thinking about replacing some or all of those annuals with fruit shrubs or plants instead. Put strawberries intermixed with daisies or other flowers to create an edible, but still flowery bed. Intermix some kitchen herbs in pots with your flowers for decoration and to change the topography a little. Try some cherry tomatoes or bush beans in the hanging pot instead of flowers too. Lots of beauty comes from plants that we would otherwise think of as vegetables.
Maintenance replacements can also be done with edibles instead. Put in a raspberry bush instead of replacing that dead rose bush. Or try growing red leaf lettuce instead of a fern – you can usually get 2-3 lettuce crops in one season in most of the U.S. by trimming for the salad bowl throughout the year and cutting seed buds before they hatch.
Cutting down a dead tree or removing one that’s too close to something else? Why not see if you can replace that tree with a smaller fruit-bearer? Many dwarf varieties of popular fruit trees can occupy the same areas where a much larger oak or pine tree lived and be both fruitful and provide shade and decoration without spreading too wide with roots or branches.
Overall, just look at your yard and think about what can be replaced with edible plants without requiring that you destroy something that you already find beautiful or beneficial.
Ideas for Landscaping With Fruit
If you’re starting from scratch, plan based on what the finished (mature) plants and trees will look like. Some plants, like raspberries and even the diminutive lemon bush, are beautiful for nearly the whole season and provide great edibles. Trees, on the other hand, take a long time to mature and get much larger than their purchased size, so their total impact should be considered first. Many edibles require cross-pollination, so know which need what to do so and plan accordingly. Starting from scratch is the easiest, though. It’s incorporating into an existing landscape that is more difficult.
Use the above techniques to begin replacing annuals and plants that are dying or no longer look the way you’d like. There are a lot of possibilities here and no single option is going to be best for everyone. Just do it!