red bell pepper

Edible landscaping is the process of planting edible plants in a landscape, rather than in a traditional garden.  There are two major benefits to edible landscaping.  First of all, edible landscapes save space, because they combine landscaping and food-growing into a single space. 

Secondly, they turn a standard landscape into more than just aesthetics, but into a useful method of growing some of your own food. Edible landscapes don’t have to be 100% edible.  You can design your edible landscape around any percentage of edible plants you wish. 

You might choose to make your landscape 100% edible, or you might only include a single fruit tree. Edible landscaping has actually been around for a very long time.  Some of the earliest edible landscapes were found in ancient Persia and in gardens in medieval times. 

red and green bell peppers
Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

In some areas of the world, most people plant mostly edible varieties.  Some people see no point in planting anything that isn’t edible, seeing everything else as a waste of valuable food-growing space.

An important part of planning your edible landscape is knowing what conditions each variety needs.  Some plants will need a lot of sun, and some plants require more shade.  You need to be sure the soil conditions are suitable. 

Be sure to check each and every variety so you know its soil requirements, sunlight requirements, and the nutrient and pH balance needed. Start by planning out your landscape on paper. 

Mark off where you want to place certain plants, and be sure those areas are conducive to the varieties you wish to locate there.  Use fruit trees in place of shade trees.  You can plant hazelnuts and currants wherever you might place a deciduous shrub.  You can use herbs in place of low-lying shrubs and ground cover.

Ornamental plants often need very little care.  Edible plants do need a little bit more attention than other plants if you want them to produce a good harvest.  You might have to water them more often or fertilizer them. 

You’ll probably have to work a bit harder to control pests than you would for strictly ornamental plants, because insects tend to target edible plants much more often.  But the food yield certainly makes it worth a bit of additional work.

One of the most important types of edible plants to add to a landscape is fruit trees or bushes.  Fruit trees make excellent shade tree replacements.  And berry bushes can be extremely attractive in place of typical shrubs.  Blueberry bushes can be quite lovely in front of a home, for example.  And apple trees can grow into delightful shade trees!

blueberries on white ceramic container
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Instead of planting flowerbeds, you can plant beds of lettuce, herbs, or greens.  Many types of mint have lovely blooms.  Lettuce and other greens can come in all types of colours.  You can get ornamental cabbages and kale in a wide variety of colours, adding a splash of colour to any area.  Peppers and tomatoes are colourful additions, as well.

Grape arbors are a spectacular addition to a landscape.  Grape arbors have been used for many years as a beautiful enhancement to lawns, and the fruit is a wonderful bonus. Remember, many types of flowers are also edible. 

Nasturtiums, violas, daylilies, calendula, and borage are all edible, and make wonderful additions to salads and decorations for cakes.  So you can still plant some flowers, even if you want to stay 100% edible!

Until Next Time

Dominus Owen Markham


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