Landscaping with Edibles
Create a beautiful ornamental garden that you can eat.
Edible landscaping, also known as "foodscaping," incorporates vegetables, herbs, orchard trees, berries, flowering herbs, and edible flowers in a way that maximizes space and balances beauty with utility. Kitchen gardens, cottage gardens, and wartime victory gardens, are all familiar examples of growing to nourish both body and spirit. But foodscaping is as old as recorded human history, dating all the way back to the Paradise-inspired gardens of ancient Mesopotamia. And it's easy to see why this approach to landscaping has stood the test of time: after all, who wants to grow a sterile, high-maintenance lawn when they could be growing a personal oasis of beauty and nourishment?
Getting started with edible landscaping is as easy as adding edibles to your existing plantings. It can be as simple as swapping out a bedding plant like petunias for nasturtiums, or growing Matchbox Pepper in a pot usually reserved for geraniums. Gradually add more and more edibles over time, learning as you go: and whenever a new landscaping problem presents itself, see if an edible can supply the solution.
The Bold and the Beautiful
An effective way to begin edible landscaping is to choose beautiful vegetables in bold pops of color. For visually-stunning vegetable varieties, consider the following:
- Asian Greens: Rainbow Tatsoi, Scarlet Red Tatsoi, Red Giant Mustard
- Other Greens: Bull's Blood Beet, Rainbow Chard, Merlot Lettuce, Really Red Deer Tongue Lettuce, Ruby Red Orach, Siber Frills Kale, Rainbow Lacinato Kale
- Corn: Double Red Sweet Corn, Japonica Striped Corn
- Peppers: Hungarian Hot Wax, Lemon Drop Hot Pepper, Joe's Cayenne, Matchbox
- Tomatoes: Mandurang Moon, Summer Sunrise, Roughwood Golden Plum
- Amaranth: Golden Giant Amaranth, New Mexico Amaranth
- Okra: Burgundy Okra
- Watermelon: Golden Mini Watermelon
Mix It Up
Create a feeling of harmony and balance by interplanting flowers, herbs, and vegetables all in the same bed.
In addition to their culinary utility, herbs are generally tidy, well- contained, and beautiful! These herbs bring color, height, texture, and fragrance to the garden: Anise Hyssop, Britton Shiso, Bronze Fennel, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Oregano, Marjoram, Sage, Sacred Basil, and Thyme.
For continuous seasonal beauty, succession sow these edible blooms: Bachelor Button, Calendula, Nasturtium, and Borage.
You can also "mix things up" by sowing our Edible Flower Mix, which includes Dianthus, Nasturtium, Marigold, and more.
Learn more about edible flowers here.
Swap Out Ornamentals for Edibles
When a new landscaping challenge presents itself, consider edible alternatives among your solutions.
For tight spaces, opt for well-behaved compact varieties like: Georgia Southern Collards, Tiny Tim Tomato, Little Bells Sweet Pepper, Blue Jade Dwarf Sweet Corn. Or, go vertical: Try Tall Telephone Shelling Pea, Swiss Giant Snow Pea, or Red Noodle Bean.
For an edible privacy screen, try: Red Malabar Spinach (pictured left), Sunset Runner Bean, or Yakteen Gourd.
For an edible groundcover, try: Thyme, Mint, or Oregano. Try Chives in place of low-growing grasses.
For height, grow sunflowers! (Eat the seeds.)
Future-Forward Edible Landscaping
Take your edible landscaping to the next level by planting orchard trees, berries, and nuts. In place of ornamentals, plant fruit and nut trees. Grow currants and berries for hedges or windbreaks. Spicebush, New Jersey Tea, Sumac, Sassafrass, Elder, and Quince, are just some of the many interesting edible alternatives available for permanent plantings.
Visit our new collection of Fruit Trees to discover heirloom apples and pears that you can grow in the home garden. We are very excited about this new collaboration with Full Circus Farm, a certified organic, horse-powered farm located in Pine Plains, NY. Browse the full collection here and find planting instructions here.
Eating fruit from a tree you've planted is one of life's sweetest joys. New Yorkers and other Northeastern growers can find more useful tips in Cornell's Guide to Growing Fruit at Home. As the saying goes, "the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago"–so get crackin'!
Whether your project is big or small, growing more edibles is a great way to engage the five senses and get more out of the garden. Happy growing!