Many of us have always entertained the idea of having a garden at home, but often use the excuse that we just don’t have enough space to do it. Or, we are lucky enough to have a small plot of land, but choose to fill it with grass, roses, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, or other ornamentals. These plants look nice, but don’t provide any value to us other than aesthetics.
What if there was a way to still have gorgeous landscaping, even in a small space, while simultaneously creating value for the homeowner? Fortunately — there is! It’s called edible landscaping, or sometimes referred to as "foodscaping".
Edible landscaping is the practical integration of food plants in an ornamental or decorative setting. The same design principles as ornamental landscaping are used, except edible plants such as blueberries, herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees are used in place of the otherwise unproductive plants and flowers. Foodscaping is equally as beautiful, and is a much more productive use of the soil. Using edibles in landscape design not only provides a unique ornamental component, but also provides healthy food and economic benefits. Why not slash your food bill while eating healthier?
Additionally, edible landscaping does not have to be entirely fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In fact, filling the yard with only edibles would often produce too much food for most households, not to mention too much time and work. Integrating both edibles and ornamentals is the most efficient way to produce a yard that is flavorful, practical, and beautiful. In fact, many ornamentals can be used as visually appealing, organic bug repellants for garden plants. Marigolds, chrysanthemums, and petunias are all appraised for their pest repelling qualities, are low maintenance, season-long bloomers.
Homeowners with small or large yards can benefit from a trellis of cherry tomatoes cascading over the entryway, a fragrant border of colorful and flavorful basils, or a semi-dwarf apple tree or two. Consider replacing the typical landscape with decorative borders of herbs, rainbow chard, and striking paprika peppers. Instead of the fleeting color of spring azaleas, try the year-long beauty of pear and plum trees, which put on a spring show of flowers, have colorful summer fruits, and produce yellow fall foliage. There are tasty and ornamental edible plants for just about any garden setting in any climate.
Edible landscapes also offer these incredible benefits:
Energy Savings: Food from your yard requires no shipping and little refrigeration. Plus, conventional farms use a large amount of energy to plow, plant, spray, and harvest produce. Planting and picking tomatoes in your front yard requires a miniscule amount by comparison.
Food Safety: You know which chemicals (if any) are used.
Money Savings: An unbelievable amount of food can be grown in a small, beautiful space. An average of $530 annually per household is saved on groceries from growing their own food.
Better Nutrition: Fully ripe, just-picked, homegrown fruits and vegetables provide more vitamins and nutrients than supermarket produce, which is usually picked under-ripe and is days or even weeks old when eaten.
The Office of Sustainable Practices at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation was created to advance a culture of sustainability across the department, state government and with our various partners through an action-based approach. Conserving resources and using energy wisely makes sense on a basic level: It saves money and positively impacts our health and environment today and for future generations. Connect with the Office of Sustainable Practices on its website.
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