Edible garden designs continue to trend upward with more homeowners than ever before interested in incorporating edible plants into their landscape. There’s no question you’ve probably heard terms like “foodscaping,” “farm to table,” or “edible backyards,” largely thanks to an increased awareness of the undeniable link of our health to what we eat.
With more people interested in knowing where their food comes from, there’s been an obvious increased interest in growing one’s own food. Of course, you probably want to do it in a way that still gives you full enjoyment out of your backyard—and your landscaping. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid when it comes to building your own edible landscape.
1. A Lack of Planning
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made when creating a backyard edible landscape is failing to put a plan in place. Without a design, your edible landscape can quickly get out of control—and that can become an eyesore.
There’s no question that growing fruits and vegetables in your backyard can create large plants—and ones that can “take-over” your landscape, if not planned thoughtfully.
You could also be producing way more bounty than you and your family could ever possibly eat. While some people like that idea—and like to share the extra with friends and family—others only want to grow what they’ll eat. These are important conversations to have with your landscape designer, so that your edible garden can be customized to your exact needs.
2. Assuming Ornamentals and Edibles Don’t Mix
The right mix of plants is important to the overall look of your edible landscape design. But a lot of people automatically assume that they can’t mix ornamental plants with edible ones in the same area. That’s simply not the case. Mixing and matching ornamentals and edibles can create a unique and aesthetically appealing landscape design that really pops.
Edible plants with bold foliage, flowers, or fruits mix nicely in perennial gardens or even container gardens. You could even choose low-growing vegetables and herbs (like various lettuces or basil) in your flower beds—creating a truly multi-purpose space from which you can harvest and enjoy its beauty.
A landscape professional can guide you in the best choices when it comes to mixing ornamentals and edibles, in order to create a look that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly purposeful.
3. Poor Plant Choice for Your Site’s Conditions
As with any landscape design, plant choice material matters. The last thing that you want to do is choose edible plants that won’t survive well in your particular landscape. Ohio’s warmer soil temperatures of 50 to 75 degrees make it suitable for a variety of vegetables like Swiss chard, beans, cucumbers, and peppers—as well as plenty of different fruits. Plant strawberries and blueberries during the spring and blackberries and raspberries during the fall. These plants are hardy and can survive our harsh winters.
A similar mistake to plant choice is plant spacing—which also needs to be addressed. Proper spacing will be the key to a successful edible landscape. Different plants have different requirements. If you’re not clear on proper spacing, consult your landscape professional.
4. Taking a “One of Everything” Approach
On that same token, it’s common for people to get overzealous about how much they want to plant and choose “one of everything.” When you’re at the local nursery, it’s easy to get excited about the idea of growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs and choose one of each. But when your edible plants start to fill in, they’ll look messy with no rhyme or reason. This can create a cluttered eyesore to your backyard edible landscape.
In reality, your best bet is to grow groups of plants. After all, you wouldn’t plant one perennial all by itself—you’d plant a group of them. The same is true for edible plants. It’s going to look a lot more appealing to have them in clusters.
An added benefit is that group plantings also makes your harvest experience easier. You can plan to pick one fruit or vegetable at a time.
5. Failing to Think about Wildlife
As you already know, deer and other wildlife are a big concern in our region and when you add edible plants to your backyard, you’re going to attract even more of these creatures. While you have feeding your family in mind, the wildlife will think that you opened up a 24/7 buffet just for them.
This point goes back to the “planning” mistake. As you’re planning for your backyard edible landscape, making sure that you’re also thinking about effective solutions for the local wildlife. If you don’t, you surely won’t be able to enjoy your plants to the fullest as the local deer, rabbits, and other creatures will be beating you to it.
Turning to the Pros for Help
Worried about making one of these common mistakes (or others)? You don’t have to be. You can turn to the landscape professionals for guidance. These days, we’re incorporating more edible plants into our landscape designs than ever before. If that’s something that you’re interested in, let us know. We can handle the design and installation for you so that instead of worrying whether you’ve done it right or not, all you have left to do is enjoy it.