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A Guide for Developing Edible Landscapes



Having produce in your garden is one way to keep you and your environment healthy. With edible landscapes, you can plant fruit and vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. There are many benefits to growing these landscapes from giving privacy, providing food security, supporting wildlife, and stabilizing the soil. Discover a step-by-step guide on how to create long-lasting edible landscapes. 


How Long Will It Take to Create One?

This depends upon your goals and budget. Edible plants can be added, one by one, over time, to fill voids or replace pants, in an existing garden. Gardens can also be planned to be composed primarily of edible plants and installed in a single step. Regardless of how you install your edible plantings, know that there is some period of time, usually from 1-3 years, between when a plant is put in the ground and when it will produce things to consume. Thus, the sooner a plant is planted, the sooner it can be harvested.


Establish a Landscape Design

It’s important to be intentional about your planting process regarding your edible garden. You shouldn’t go into the process without creating some kind of design or plan. Sketch out the landscape idea on paper or computer. 


You need to consider including the following elements:

  • Spacing needed between each plant, flower, fruit, herb, or vegetable

  • Amount of sunlight required for each plant 

  • Plants that require another of one for pollination and ones that do not

  • Plant groupings (based on which ones can coexist together and which ones can’t)

  • Weather in your area 


All of these factors will determine which plants you will choose and where you will decide to plant them.


Determine which Edible Plants will be in Your Landscape

In Massachusetts, fruits like blueberries, apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, mulberries, elderberries, raspberries, and blackberries grow well in edible landscapes. You’ll also find uncommon plants like honeyberry, goji berry, cornelian cherry, jujube, medlar, sea-berry, huckleberry, and maypop can have successful growth here. For vegetables, there are so many options, such as kale, lettuce, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, celery, and brussels sprouts. With herbs, there are perennial options such as chives, mint, thyme, and sage, and annual ones like basil, rosemary, and parsley to choose from.  Between these choices, the options are endless! 


Tips When Landscaping with Fruits & Shrubs

If your landscape design doesn’t have room for life-size fruit trees, try miniature and dwarf trees that only grow four to five feet tall. Different kinds of fruit bushes can be edible, but also pretty to look at in a garden. For instance, blueberry bushes are perfect to grow as fruit but also look great as decorative bushes. 


Tips When Landscaping with Herbs

Many green herbs are now available in many different colors; you can use these herbs as foliage for your garden. Herbs like lavender also work as a decorative plant, so you can grow them within your garden space for a pretty scenic view. You can try to mix your herbs with flowers in your garden and landscape.  


Creating an edible landscape garden requires time, effort, and a lot of planning. However, the result will give you delicious-tasting herbs, fruits, and vegetables, while also providing a beautiful landscape for your home. Adding edible plants to your landscape can start small, by adding a few plants to your existing gardens, or by “jumping in” and creating a design of primarily edible plants and installing an entire garden or more. What will you plant in your edible landscape? 

 

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