Trying to live self-sufficiently in a city or suburban environment is rewarding however comes with several challenges. One of the most common obstacles is just a lack of space. The typical residential lot may vary anywhere from 3,500 sq. feet. to 6,000 sq. feet. Either way, even a really massive suburban lot isn’t going to be larger than a quarter acre, and often quite smaller.
Fortunately, there are various ways to save space and still grow your own food in the town. One of these ways is called edible landscaping.
Edible landscaping is the technique of planting edible foods in place of strictly decorative plants within a landscape. These edible foods could be something from herbs to full-grown squash plants.
Of course, anyone will use edible landscaping on their property but it works exceptionally well for people who live in an urban setting, for two reasons:
- You can grow food without affecting the value of your current landscape
- It won’t attract unwanted attention from neighbors or passersby
Tight-knit urban communities may not be so happy about you having garden beds on your front lawn. Such a garden also can affect your property value. Additionally, it isn’t unheard of for folks in unfortunate situations to help themselves to your food. Edible landscaping permits you to grow your own food in a subtle but very effective method.
Planting an Edible Landscape
Edible landscaping tends to be very forgiving and is easy for anyone to do, though you have no previous experience with gardening. While virtually something you’d usually plant in a traditional garden may be used in edible landscaping, here are a couple of that work alright in this kind of set-up:
- Sweet and hot peppers. They fare well against pests, and most plants are quite attractive. They also provides a ton of color variety since peppers go through a color change as they grow.
- Beans. Herbs are a true win-win. Not only do they save you cash, dried and fresh herbs are expensive, however many types like mint are super hardy and make a good ground cover.
- Herbs. Herbs are a true win-win. Not only do they save you cash, dried and fresh herbs are expensive, however many types like mint are super hardy and make a good ground cover.
- Berry bushes. Berries are delicious, and the shrubs they grow in will be used as a hedge for privacy or in place of a fence. Actually, thorned shrubs can be quite a deterrent for keeping stray animals away.
- Flowering kale. Some flowering kale species don’t even look like they should be in a garden. Regular kale and dinosaur kale will work very well, too, and often taste better than flowering kales.
- Ornamental cabbage. Just like flowering kales, decorative cabbage varieties will be downright beautiful. They tend to not be as tasty as commercial varieties but they’re still edible.
- Tomatoes. While being one of the most commonly grown vegetables, tomatoes also can work flawlessly in edible landscaping. The fruits aren’t just red, however can come in colors like chocolate to purple and even have patterns like stripes.
- Swiss chard.This vegetable tastes delicious and is incredibly colorful without sacrificing taste. Normally, Swiss chard has a vivid red stalk however other varieties come in a mixture of yellow, pink and orange. The leaves can also vary in color from green to deep purple.
- Rhubarb.Another plant with delicious red stalks like Swiss chard. Rhubarb stalks are edible but the leaves shouldn’t be eaten by people and animals.
- Edible flowers.This is a given, but if you’re planting an edible landscape you can’t go wrong with edible flowers.
Planning Your Edible Landscape
It is a great plan to start planning your edible landscaping during winter so you have lots of time to draw out a plan, order your seeds and begin them indoors in time for spring planting. Even though you may escape with going straight to digging and planting, it isn’t advisable.
Step 1: Review Your Property and Draw a Basic Layout
The first step in planning is to take a good look at the land you have to work with. Taking photos is extremely useful, as well. You’ll also need to draw a layout of your lot that accounts for your house, any outbuildings and structures that are permanent. You’ll additionally need to draw in any landscaping you have that you don’t need to remove.
Step 2: Find Your Zone and Learn Your Property’s Peculiarities
Next, go take a walk around your property and makes notes of any peculiarities. As an example, what areas are totally shaded, partially shaded or have full sun? Which areas tend to collect water and pool after a rain? Which areas already have competing shrubs, plants or trees? You really need to closely examine your property thus you can produce a thorough plan of what edibles you want to add. As an example, if you want to grow an herb that prefers shade, you’ll know precisely where on your property it will thrive.
Step 3: Make a List of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits and Trees You Want
Now for the fun part. You’ll look online or flip through seed catalogs and begin making an inventory of what you want to plant. It’s very easy to go overboard and end up with an enormous list you couldn’t possibly plant on your lot. Instead, think about what foods you buy most often from the grocery. Perhaps you and your family are massive salad eaters. You’d benefit lots from growing different salads and leafy vegetables.
If you intend on planting trees, keep in mind how massive they could possibly grow and how quickly. The same goes for giant bushes or shrubs. They may grow more quickly than you imagined and end up shading your once-sunny spots.
It is also a really good plan to not just account for the space each plant will need but also leave gaps for future planting. Remember: you’ll always add more plants in empty spaces. When it involves planting your edible landscaping, it’s just like planting a garden. All of the same principles apply.
When it comes to planting your edible landscaping, it is just like planting a garden. All of the same principles apply.