The time has come. You’ve mastered your front yard garden, haven’t killed a plant in years, and you’re ready for a new challenge. Our suggestion: try incorporating some edibles into your existing landscape.
An edible garden has more benefits than being, well, edible. For one thing, people tend to get great satisfaction out of growing something useful and nurturing themselves. And when you harvest your bounty, you can share it with friends and family. You will, of course, also save some money by stocking your kitchen with the goods from your own backyard. (Let’s be real: your kale habit is expensive.)
So the real question is: how do you make edibles work with your existing landscaping?
Use edibles to add color, texture, and drama
You might not think about mixing your flowers with your veggies, but this method can take an otherwise boring yard (no offense!) to a whole new level.
Baby steps: if you’ve already got a garden design that works for you, try replacing a row of high-maintenance annuals with an equally beautiful – but much less demanding – edible that’s naturally eye-catching.
Vary height and color among your plants to keep things dynamic. Big, crinkly Dinosaur Kale, stalky chives, and curly parsley will all add some welcome texture to your garden.
Plant in decorative patterns – simple or elaborate, your choice – to add interest and make harvesting your veggies less of a chore.
Honor your own style. You don’t have to go full-on Secret Garden style with edibles – you could go for a grid structure, as we saw on Landscaping Network, and mix modern elements with your greenery.
Contain it. Use a container garden, that is. This is particularly useful if your backyard is comprised primarily of hardscaping, or if you have a very small space. Bonus: if you move around frequently and need some flexibility, you can always take your plants with you!
Choose easy-to-grow edibles for a good-looking garden
Edibles are a bit different than flowers – for one thing, you have to really pay attention to pest and predator problems. To prevent your first attempt from becoming a sad, wilted mess, choose beginner-level edibles. Here are some of our favorite fruits and vegetables to grow in the spring:
Lettuces, chard, spinach, and kale. Salad greens are incredibly easy to grow, and they’ll yield an ungodly amount of food throughout the year. Plus, their big, green leaves look fantastic with pretty much any landscaping.
Summer berries. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries – they all look as good as they taste. Berries require a bit of maintenance, but they’re fairly hardy – and worth the extra trouble.
Zucchini. King of summer squash, zucchini is prolific when given ample space – and you can make almost anything from it.
Root veggies like beets and carrots. Summer’s answer to sweet potatoes and parsnips, beets and carrots yield lots of green foliage (yep, it’s edible) and brightly colored veggies.
We also love this list of easy edibles from Houzz – they include everything from peas to peppers. You’ll hardly need to go to the grocery store!
Note – for all of these plants, we recommend getting your starter plants from a local farm. That way, you’ll know that the plants can handle the climate. Use this website to find out which varieties are native to your region: http://findnativeplants.com/
Incorporate edibles; have the best summer ever
If you’re anything like us, you’ll feel like you’re living in the French countryside when you harvest your first crops. And yes – freshly-picked fruit and veggies really do taste better.
Enjoy the process, and learn to love veggies in a whole new way – as both food and design elements.