You may have heard the term “edible landscaping,” but what exactly is it? Edible landscaping is replacing ornamental plants with plants you can actually eat. This includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, and edible flowers. Edible landscaping has gained popularity in recent years, but it’s not a new practice. In fact, many gardens throughout history included both ornamental and edible plants (for example, ancient Persian gardens and 19th century English suburban yards).
Edible landscapes have many benefits. Having an edible landscape can give you increased food security because you know where your food is coming from. They also provide convenience and could possibly reduce your food costs. Maintaining an edible landscape can also be a good source of fun, recreation, and exercise.
Edible landscapes do require plenty of upkeep and maintenance. You’ll have to plan your design before you start growing anything. You can reduce maintenance by taking the plants’ needs (location, season, etc.) into consideration. For example, it’s a good idea to place an edible landscape in sunny places with well-drained soil to accommodate plants.
Even people who have small yards or who live in apartments can enjoy edible landscaping. Grow potted herbs on the patio or plant vegetables in a window box for an edible landscape that doesn’t require lawn work.
Designing isn’t the only concern for edible landscapes—you’ll also need to prune, fertilize, and water your food-producing plants. Don’t forget pest control!
Once you’ve designed and planted, it’s time to harvest your edible produce. Harvesting may be a challenge as some vegetables and fruits require daily or weekly monitoring. Keep an eye on your crops to prevent fruit from dropping from trees and to avoid rotten produce. Although edible crops may require more work than ornamental ones, you don’t want this fun and rewarding hobby to become a chore. Start off small and add more plants when you feel comfortable doing so.
Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for more information on starting and maintaining your own edible garden!