Tips for Incorporating a Vegetable Garden into Your Landscaping
Written by Tim Smith
A beautifully landscaped yard is a benefit to both commercial and residential properties, enhancing street appeal and property value. Well-balanced color, symmetry and scale contribute to the aesthetic appeal. But landscaping need not be limited to manicured grass, ornamental shrubs and cultivated flowers. Incorporating herbs, fruit trees, fruit-bearing vines and vegetables into a landscaping plan lets you enjoy the bounty of seasonal crops and the color, fragrance and textures of plants usually confined to the back of the house.
When planting vegetables and herbs for ornamental purposes and for harvest, placement is important. Most vegetables and herbs require between six and eight hours of sun each day, so the garden plots must receive adequate sunshine. A stroll through your property during different times of day will reveal which areas are shaded and which receive more sun. Observe shade trees, eaves and even the shadow of structures over the garden areas as the sun shifts during the day. In shaded areas, leafy vegetables like lettuce, kale and small cabbages, cool-weather plants, can be grown in early spring or fall and are colorful. Vegetables that like full sun include several varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers.
If space is at a premium, or if you want to separate edibles from other areas or highlight certain plants, raised beds optimize growing space. They can also be used to break up large or uninteresting spaces. The textures of the material of the walls, variations in height and the scale and color of the plants add to the visual appeal. Beds near driveways and walkways can feature plants that grow lower to the ground like peas, bush beans and herbs.
Herbs add fragrance and visual appeal. Basil, sage, oregano, marjoram, lemon verbena and lavender are some of the most pleasantly fragrant. Many herbs have both regular and dwarf varieties, so they can be interspersed throughout the garden along pathways, around rock formations or ponds and in beds of other plantings. Depending on your location, warm-climate plants like lemongrass and ginger thrive year-round outdoors or can be taken indoors in pots in colder zones.
If you have space, fruit trees not only bear delicious fruit but have fragrant flowers with colorful displays. Chinese pear (Pyrus pyrifolia), cherries, almond, citrus and pomegranate trees have spectacular flowers. Olive and avocado are evergreens with colorful foliage. If space is limited, train them as espaliers, an advantage if the property has unattractive walls or areas that require visual screening. When planting fruit trees, consider placement in relation to how the outdoor space is used. As trees begin to bear fruit, fruit drop can be a problem. Plant trees away from driveways, walkways and patios. Fruits suitable for warmer climates include pineapple, which can be grown outdoors or in containers, lychee and its cousin rambutan, and those that grow on vines like passionfruit. Cold-climate fruit includes apple, many berries, plums and several types of nuts.
Experienced gardeners will enjoy designing spaces to optimize contrasts of color and scale as well as finding both seasonal and year-round crops and trees that complement the landscape and please the palate. For more outdoor living and gardening ideas check out Modernize.