In our busy lives, it often seems like you have to choose between a pretty garden or a productive one. You might have only a short amount of time to devote to yard work, and the choice between beauty and yield can be tough. But there is a solution – edible landscaping! Edible landscaping is the practice of replacing ornamental plants with those that have edible parts. These plants are just as lovely as ornamentals and can serve the same function, but with the added bonus of putting food on your plate! There are other benefits as well – growing your own produce saves money, gardens replace turf which helps reduce runoff, and edible plants that will flourish in your yard are often native, reducing the use of invasive species in your garden!
John and I knew that we wanted to reduce our footprint by eating locally – from our backyard if we could manage it! But between our work and our kids, how would we have the time to transform our yard into an edible landscape? Urban Farmhouse to the rescue. Owned and operated by Master Gardener Chrissa Carlson, Urban Farmhouse is a Baltimore-based company that specializes in edible landscaping. Back in early spring, Chrissa came to our home and worked with John to install a variety of edible plants throughout our front and side yards since our back yard is almost entirely shaded. They offer a huge variety of services, depending on your needs. If you’re not sure what your yard’s soil quality is, they’ll test it, interpret the results for you, and make plant recommendations based on the pH and soil composition. If you just need help getting started in the garden, their coaching visits can teach you gardening techniques, how to diagnose pest problems, and how to harvest your yield at the end of the season. If you’re located in Maryland, DC, or Northern Virginia, they’re a good option for helping you get started in the garden.
If you aren’t local to this area, there are plenty of resources for those who want to combine beauty and yield in their gardens. TreeHugger has a slideshow of 18 edible plants that are gorgeous to look at and tasty to eat. Edible Landscaping sells plants, hosts workshops, and is full of information about hardiness zones and plant durability. Rosalind Creasy, author of Edible Landscaping, publishes blogs, tips, how-tos, and beginner guides to edible landscaping on her website. Finally, Better Homes and Gardens has a page full of plant suggestions for edible landscaping, including companion planting, and tips on higher yields and garden rotation.
I hope you’ve become inspired to try this in your garden. If you decide to start practicing edible landscaping, let me know! Share your pictures with Sister Eden on Facebook, or tell your story in the comments.