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With an Edible Landscape, You Can Have Your View and Eat It Too!

July 1st, 2009

edible-landscape.jpgIf you would like a yard that is pleasing to the eye and functional as well, edible landscaping can make this dream a reality! In the following paragraphs you will learn about each step of the process, from site selection and preparation, to choosing and arranging plants and keeping your edible landscape healthy and attractive. If you take action and apply this information, you will increase the value of your property, reduce your food budget, and turn your neighbors green with envy! Let’s get started!

The first thing you need to do is choose and prepare the site for your edible landscape. This depends on the characteristics of your property since sun exposure, soil drainage, and fertility must all be considered. Most fruits and vegetables need at least six hours of full sunlight per day. If your yard is well shaded, your plant choices might be limited to medicinal herbs and mushrooms. The ground must be properly prepared for planting, and loosening the soil to a depth of two feet while adding well-aged manure or weed-seed free compost is essential. If your edible landscape is taking the place of a lawn, you must kill off this section of turf or it will come up through your landscape. Sheet mulching or raised bed techniques are two good ways to do this. Make your edible landscape beds about 25 feet long by four to five feet wide. This allows you to reach all the plants when you are weeding the beds or harvesting the produce. Now that you’ve staked out a location for your edible landscape and prepared it properly, you are ready for the next step.

Selecting and arranging the plants in your edible landscape comes next and this is where you can make full use of your creativity and imagination. The first thing you need to consider is the general class of plant you will be using. If you want to harvest produce your first year, you may need to include some annual vegetables in your design. Since these must be replanted every year and replaced after harvesting, a lot more work will be required of you. However, many perennial fruits, vegetables, and flowers are available that will bloom every year if you are willing to wait a little longer for your first harvest.

With this decision out of the way, your remaining selection criteria is based on color, texture, height, and form. To achieve an aesthetically pleasing balance, try to make maximum use of contrasts while varying these criteria to avoid too much of any one thing. Blend colors that go well together and combine shapes and sizes to keep things interesting. You can form runner-less clumps of Alpine Strawberries to create an attractive border of flowers and fruit or use creeping thyme, oregano or cilantro for a fuller border or eye-catching ground cover. Hot peppers and cherry or grape tomatoes add a welcome splash of color. You can also choose disease-resistant hybrid apple, crab apple, peach, pear, plum or cherry trees in dwarf or semi-dwarf sizes for easy care and harvesting. The sky’s the limit!

Now that your edible landscape is a reality, you can keep it looking its best with a daily or weekly maintenance schedule. You will need to water, fertilize, prune, and eliminate weeds and pests on an ongoing basis. Try to water your plants in the evening when the heat of the day has passed and evaporation is no longer a problem. Add a commercial plant food to the water at least once a month or enrich the soil with quality compost or worm casings. Try to use a natural pesticide on fruits and vegetables such as tobacco leaves that have soaked overnight and ground up with Neem leaves. Birds can usually be kept away with a well-placed plastic owl or coyote. You can rejuvenate trees and shrubs, and control their size and shape, by pruning them. You should remove one third of the stems from your flowering shrubs once a year. If you water, fertilize, prune, and eliminate weeds and pests on a regular schedule, your edible landscape will thrive and be the talk of the town!

The current economic crisis has led to skyrocketing food prices and an overall increase in the cost of living. Food freshness and security have become more important then ever but we still need a backyard oasis where we can escape the stress of modern life. Edible landscaping provides all this and more and all it takes is the right information on site location and preparation, plant selection and arrangement, and a regular maintenance routine. Now that you have that information, you can create eye-catching edible landscapes while growing enough fruits and vegetables to supplement a family of four. You really can have your view and eat it too!


As a professional writer, Dan Eash has created promotional copy for doctor and dentist offices across the country. He has also generated software manuals and help files along with a product training video. His freelance efforts include an ebook he authored and continues to sell online. He has a passion for topics related to survival, alternative energy, and self-sufficiency. This passion is reflected by his life in rural Kentucky where he tends a large garden, raises chickens, collects rain water, and makes use of wind and solar power.


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