The following is an excerpt from Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich, Ph.D. (Storey, 2009). Reich is an author, lecturer and consultant whose books also include The Pruning Book, Weedless Gardening and Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden. Reich grows a broad assortment of fruit plants in his own garden, which has been featured in numerous publications. Whether you purchase trees and shrubs from a local nursery or from a mail-order company, this expert advice will help ensure that your plants are healthy and happy in their new home. You’ll also want to check out our first excerpt from the book, How to Select Fruit and Nut Trees .
Contrary to what some adult may have told you as a child, you can “have your cake and eat it too.” Well, when it comes to planting your yard, at least.
Garden plants have traditionally been pigeonholed into one of two categories: utilitarian, for providing food, or ornamental, for providing beauty. This ethos has plopped fruit plantings in out of the way, far corners of backyards. When constraints of time or space have forced a choice between planting for beauty or planting for food (which, after all, can be bought), that decision has usually tipped in favor of beauty.
But that choice need not be made! You can have both. You can have your cakes and eat them too.
Fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and vines become permanent fixtures in the landscape — their branching patterns, their bark, and their trunks enduring throughout the year and looking more dramatic with time. Many fruiting plants are spectacular ornaments and especially so in certain seasons: Just look at peach branches studded in spring with powder puffs of pink blossoms, or persimmon branches in autumn bowing under the weight of their bright orange fruit. Nanking cherry and juneberry are among those plants that bear delectable fruits yet have actually been planted most often as ornamentals, their gustatory offerings unknowingly overlooked or ignored.
One nice feature of luscious landscaping with fruits is that eating the fruit doesn’t ruin the “picture,” something I realized was not the case when I began harvesting lettuce heads from the pretty tapestry I once created with lettuces of various textures and colors in one of my vegetable beds. My persimmons’ fruits cling to their branches for weeks and bear in such profusion that the tree’s festive look lingers well into autumn despite my picking and eating plenty of fruits. Perhaps the biggest plus for luscious landscaping is that you get to eat homegrown fruits — nature’s original desserts.
So which plants to plant? Just check the chart of Luscious Landscape Plants to find the best options for your yard. You’ll need to consider your desired yield and ornamental qualities, along with your particular location’s available pollination and hardiness zone. (Determine your hardiness zone.)
For detailed information on selecting and caring for trees from local nurseries and mail-order nurseries, including a list of recommended companies, see How to Select Fruit and Nut Trees.
For More Information
Grow Free Fruit Trees
Growing Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Currants and Other Berries That Thrive Where You Live
Peewee Kiwis and Other Sweet Delights
Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet
Find Your Landscaping Plants
If you can’t find the landscaping plants you want, check out the following online resources: