Add edible landscaping for garden variety | Columnists

Edible landscaping is landscaping that includes edible plants. Creating a landscape of fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be a fun and rewarding challenge for gardeners. It’s also important to remember that introducing edible plants to the landscape doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation and can happen over time. The most important thing is to move towards considering edible plants for your landscaping decisions, and to consider what you want in your garden, in terms of annual options, as well as perennials like trees and shrubs that have a long lifespan.

For example, in a sunny area where a ground cover is desired, strawberries can be planted as opposed to juniper bushes. Strawberries need well-drained soil, they are happy to be planted on a hill, and they need at least six to seven hours of sunlight. Fruit trees can be planted in lieu of flowering trees that do not produce fruit, and dwarf varieties are recommended because they will stay at a height that is easier to harvest (six to ten feet tall). There are also semi-dwarf varieties that grow up to 20 feet tall. Some fruit trees that do well in our climate are fig, persimmon, papaya, and apple. For a long-term investment, nut trees can be planted in place of larger shade trees. Hedges, borders and living fences can also be considered. Blueberries are great for an edible shrub border. They are best suited to acidic soils, prefer to be planted and mulched on a hill, and are quite easy to care for. Muscadines are a wonderful producer of grapevine fruit, similar to grapes native to our region that can be used to trellis over arbors or along fence lines.

In areas where there is a desire for a formal flower bed, vegetables and edible flowers are fantastic options. Cucumbers and melons are fertile ground covers, peas and runner beans can be trellised, and other annual vegetables can also be incorporated. Edible flowers are a delicious addition to salads and other dishes and can also be used for bouquets. This is also a great place for herbs. Many of the herbs used in flavoring can be grown in Rutherford County. Herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil do best in full sun and in well-drained areas. Peppermints are productive spreaders. If they are included in the garden, a container is best, and they will likely need more monitoring to prevent spread.

The possibilities are nearly unlimited. So just remember, it will work for you and you will have fun. For additional resources or specific questions about edible landscaping, call the Extension Office or find out more about NC State Extension’s online home gardening resources.

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