Your garden can double as beautiful landscaping

Edible Landscape

by Veronica Bowman

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As the eagerly anticipated arrival of spring gets nearer, the urge to add beautiful flowers to the landscape gets increasingly stronger. The arrival of a vast array of colorful flowers at local garden centers intensifies the urge to begin a new landscape design. However, when the budget is tight and each expenditure requires justification, buying something because it is pretty is usually not an option.

Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs correlates well with a frugal lifestyle. Therefore, buying plants to create an edible landscape design is justifiable. Making wise choices is essential if your edible landscape is to thrive and produce the fruit, vegetables, and herbs you desire. Before buying plants, assess the amount of sunlight your lawn or patio receives. Also, determine the type of soil you have and the moisture and drainage quality of the area where you will be adding plants. Don't hesitate to seek free advice from friends who are experienced gardeners, experts at the garden center, or from local agricultural agencies.

Fruit trees are an excellent addition to an edible landscape. Many garden designs include a trellis or an arbor. Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beans, and peas grow beautifully on a trellis. These plants provide lush green leaves, lovely blooms, and colorful vegetables that make your landscape very attractive.

If your frugal shopping skills have enabled you to acquire a collection of containers, you can grow an abundant edible garden in those containers. Many vegetables and almost all herbs thrive and produce well when planted in containers. You will want to plant all varieties of mint in containers in order to keep it from overtaking your garden. Strawberry pots are an ideal way to grow strawberries but definitely not the only way to enjoy sweet delicious berries. Strawberry plants make an excellent ground cover in a landscape design.

Even when you're watching the budget, you can mingle a few of your favorite summer flowers in with the edible plants. If you feel adventurous, you can plant, harvest, and enjoy some edible flowers, such as nasturtiums. Many summer flowers make a beautiful garnish for a bowl of ice cream, the top of a cup cake, or tucked along the edge of a summer salad. Maybe the fact that fresh flowers from your garden beautify your home and lift your spirit is all the justification you need to include them in your edible landscape.

If the only "landscape area" you have is a patio or deck, you can still create and enjoy the benefits of an edible garden. Miniature and dwarf varieties of vegetables have become quite popular and are easy to find at most garden centers. A large amount of herbs can be grown in a small space. Dwarf fruit trees are a beautiful addition to a deck or patio. Vegetables such as grape or cherry tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers can be grown in hanging baskets.

When winter nears its end and you begin feeling the desire to add beauty and fragrance to your landscape or patio, make choices that correspond with your frugal lifestyle. Grow a variety of vegetables that are family favorites. Experiment with a few new vegetables to expand your meal-planning options. An edible landscape will provide delicious foods for your table throughout the summer. As you harvest delicious food from your edible landscape and watch your grocery expenses decrease, you will feel confident that those purchases you made in early spring were most definitely justified.

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