Edible Landscaping

Money does grow on trees...and on bushes and vines and groundcovers, too. With edible landscaping, saving money never looked and tasted so good!

Landscaping with Fruit Trees and Shrubs

boy apple picking with his fatherRhubarb chardRugen alpine strawberryCoville blueberry

  • If you don't have room for full-size fruit trees, check out the new miniatures and dwarfs now available. Some grow just 4 or 5 feet tall and are perfect for growing in large pots or whiskey barrels.
  • Rhubarb is so pretty it's a shame to relegate it to the vegetable garden. Tuck it into the flower bed or border. It's especially nice underplanted with purple-leaved Ajuga or another low-growing groundcover.
  • Strawberries make an excellent edging plant as well as a good groundcover. Plant them in long rows, one or two plants deep, along the edges of flower beds and borders. Or use them on a sunny slope or any other area where you want a pretty groundcover. They cover themselves with white flowers in spring, and the leaves turn a rich russet in fall.
  • Blueberry and currant bushes are pretty enough to use as decorative shrubs. Plant a whole hedge of them to assure plenty of fruit.
  • Grapevines are beautiful plants. Try growing two of them up over an arbor. When you're not harvesting grapes, you can use the leaves, either green or tinged by autumn color, to decoratively line plates and platters. Top with salads or cheeses.
  • Raspberries are expensive to buy at the supermarket, but a snap to grow at home. If you're concerned about having too many all at once, plant the ever-bearing types, which will produce from midsummer to frost. Also, they do well in light to medium shade, so you can plant them in an out-of-the-way corner of the yard.
  • Try growing short vining-type vegetables up trellises along the back of a flower border. Melons, cucumbers, and zucchini can all be trained to grow vertically; this means fewer fungal disease problems.


Landscaping with Vegetables

Above Ground Vegetable Bed

  • Get creative with your vegetable garden design. Consider creating a series of decorative raised beds with wood-chip- or gravel-lined paths between. Check out photos of historic French gardens for inspiration -- they're beautiful and efficient.
  • Plant vegetables with their looks as well as flavors in mind. Alternate, for example, pretty purple cabbage with snowy white cauliflower in a row. Or experiment with planting in blocks and clusters rather than rows for a more decorative effect.
  • Many vegetables lend themselves beautifully to containers. Lettuces in various colors are gorgeous in window boxes. Patio-type tomatoes are ideal in large pots. Hot peppers ripen to rich colors that are attractive when mixed in with annual flowers such as marigolds and vinca.
  • Tomatoes probably grow better in flower beds than they do in the traditional vegetable garden. That's because they should be moved to a different spot each year to prevent disease, and space is often limited in a vegetable patch. Also, tomatoes do better when isolated from other tomato plants because disease can't hop as easily from plant to plant.
  • Lettuces make a great edging plant, especially those that are deep reds and purples. Plant in a row along the front of a bed or border.
  • Don't let a little shade deter you from planting vegetables. Fairly shade-tolerant veggies include beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, leaf lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, and beans.
  • Seek out vegetables in bold colors to interplant among the flowers. Swiss chard, for example, is available in a rainbow of colors. Or try brilliant yellow sweet peppers.
  • Pole beans have attractive heart-shape leaves that are fairly decorative. They're good for planting on arbors, along fences, or on any trellis.
  • Some mustard greens and kales have gorgeous fall color and are ideal for tucking into containers and borders for color late in the year. Try Osaka Purple mustard greens or one of the red or purple kales.
  • Brighten salads with edible flowers. Grow nasturtiums and violas and toss a few petals in with your lettuce for a pretty salad.

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