We all prefer our front and backyards to be pleasing to the eye, but many of us would enjoy the benefits of a functional landscape that also pleases the taste buds. Instead of just shade trees, foundation shrubs and rows of annuals, why not add fruit trees, grape trellises and vegetable beds to your landscape?
The same design principles used in ornamental landscaping can be followed using edible substitutes. Take a look around at your overall outdoor space to see and make notes on where you might begin adding key elements. Keep in mind that it’s not important that every plant be edible, in fact it’s helpful to remember that all edible plants require time and effort to prepare, cultivate and harvest. It’s a good idea to start with a few at a time and incorporate more as you gain mastery of each. One of the simplest ways to begin is by planting a row of salad greens or strawberries in your flower beds.
Larger open spaces with plenty of sun, at least 6 hours, will be necessary for fruit and nut trees. In climates with low humidity, Pistachios (Pistacia vera) are an unexpected edible landscaping option. Like many fruit and nut trees, you’ll need both a male and a female specimen to set fruit.
Edible gardens sometimes have a reputation of being somewhat disorderly, which is one reason they have typically been placed out of sight in backyards. If you’re considering adding harvestable elements to a more visible place in your landscape, structure can make the difference between garden chaos versus a harmonious urban farm.
A sturdy fence, arbor or pergola is perfect for growing grape vines. Choose varieties for eating fresh or perhaps even for winemaking. ‘Thompson Seedless,’ is a delicious green snack grape, while ‘Concord’ is better known for jellies. The ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’ wine grape grows in many climates and soils. The dark purple fruit of ‘Zinfandel’ thrives in warm climates. No matter which variety of grape you choose to grow, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, edible garden focal point.
With proper maintenance and a thoughtful design, all kinds of delightful and delicious plants can be incorporated to create a beautiful, productive landscape.