Try Edible Landscaping for a Versatile Garden
In the past, vegetable gardens were relegated to the backyard — edibles were separated from other plants and considered functional but not necessarily attractive. But today, gardeners are combining edibles and ornamental plants to squeeze more from an ever-more-versatile garden. Even if you have a very small amount of space in which to garden, or your front yard receives the most amount of sun, you can grow your food in the same beds with your flowers and other ornamental plants.
Tips for Success
Choose the Sunniest Site
Most vegetables and fruits require as much sun as you can give them, so choose the spot with the most amount of sun throughout the day. If that's in the front yard, then you have a unique opportunity to make this combined garden beautiful both for you and your neighbors. If you have a bit of shade in every part of your yard, try planting some greens like lettuce and spinach in with your flowers, but avoid planting any vegetable or fruit in deep shade.
Nestle small herbs and vegetables in between shrubs or at the front edge of your garden. Taller vegetables or fruit trees will look better in the back of the bed, and vines like beans and tomatoes do well planted on trellises and arbors. Any nearby existing trees should be able to handle the additional amounts of water and fertilizer that edibles and ornamental plants need. Be sure to use plants that have compatible soil and water needs—for example, drought-tolerant cacti and tomatoes that need consistent watering will not do well planted next to each other in the same bed. For the most attractive look, avoid planting in rows as one would in a traditional vegetable bed.
Be Careful with Chemicals
It's not recommended to use chemicals like pesticides and herbicides around plants that you will eat. Often, planting a wide variety of plants together creates diversity that discourages pests and diseases in the first place. Pull weeds by hand, pick larger bugs off as you see them, or use a spray of water to blast smaller pests off plants. Provide some space around each plant for good air circulation to avoid mildew issues. If you do need to use a chemical, read the label to ensure that it is safe to use on or around edible plants.
Plant in Containers
Gardeners who live in apartments and have no land can still grow edible and ornamental plants together in containers. Make sure your patio or balcony receives enough sunlight—at least six hours. Choose edible and flowering plants that are smaller, such as lettuces, spinach, herbs and small berry plants, along with pansies, petunias and violas. Any plant that has an incompatible watering need, such as cacti or succulents, should be planted in a separate container.
These combination gardens are both functional and beautiful—wherever you plant them!