In suburbia, especially, we grow mostly lawn grass. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are some suggestions for a beautiful and edible landscape around your home:
- Blueberry Bushes: Nicely shaped shrubs with delicious berries in summer and lovely autumn color. Consider these if you have acidic soil.
- Espaliered fruit trees: With careful (but not complicated) pruning, you can have a living screen or fence that also gives you apples or nectarines. These space-saving trees can give as much fruit as a traditional fruit tree.
- Black raspberries: Not to be confused with blackberries, black raspberries are dark like blackberries but have the shape and texture of raspberries. They have a deep, rich raspberry flavor and are my favorite summer fruit for jam. They are also tolerant of shade, unlike many other edible plants.
- Strawberries: Strawberries of all types make a great ground cover plant. June-bearing strawberries won’t stay where you put them over the years (they send out runners and like to “travel” around a garden), but everbearing types will stay put. Tiny and intensely sweet, alpine strawberries make beautiful edging plants and also work well in containers.
- Herbs: Herbs are beautiful, fragrant, and delicious. DO NOT plant mint in the ground because it will take over. Save that one for containers. In my garden at Maplehurst, chives have beautiful pink flowers in early summer, and sage is a vigorous, perennial herb that spreads itself around. In warmer climates, rosemary can grow to shrub-like proportions.
- Elderberry: These grow wild in my part of Pennsylvania, but they also make a beautiful, spreading shrub around my home. Do some research in order to choose an edible variety and then make your own fizzy elderflower “champagne” or immune-boosting elderberry syrup.
- Asparagus: Planted in the right place, this long-lasting perennial would make a beautiful feathery-green privacy screen.
- Lettuces and other greens: These are beautiful edible plants in a rich array of colors. Choose “cut and come again” varieties of lettuce or greens like kale and colorful Swiss Chard in order to harvest without leaving bare patches in your landscape.
One last note: with edible landscaping it is especially important to consider your soil. If you live in an urban area and / or have an old home, you must assume that the ground could have high levels of lead. Containers or deep raised beds are good solutions.