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Edible landscaping combines best of both worlds


One of the best methods of edible landscaping is to incorporate food producing plants in with more traditional landscaping in an esthetically pleasing arrangement that mixes beauty with food and function.


According to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, edible landscaping is like having a fruit and vegetable garden throughout your entire yard instead of consigning it to a single section.


“Anything that you would normally like to plant for food can be placed around the yard in edible gardens instead of creating special vegetable or herb gardens or a berry patch or an orchard,” said Byers.


Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, elderberries and blueberries are extremely popular shrubs which grow easily, add beauty and are fruitful.


Red currants have deep green leaves and rich red berries which are excellent for a number of dishes and can be made into delicious jelly.


Grape arbors are a source of shade for a seating area because they grow fast and sprout delicious grapes at an incredible pace.


“There are a wide number of fruit trees to compliment your yard’s design, from pears to apples to cherries. Consider using dwarf species if you have less space or want to make a grouping of various plants,” said Byers.


Strawberries can be used as a groundcover. Herbs, like onions and chives, are also available for edible landscaping.


“I have seen vegetables used too. A row of leaf lettuce can be used to outline a flower bed, zucchini used as a ground cover under a taller plant, tomatoes — especially cherry tomatoes — and potatoes planted in a perennial bed,” said Byers.


Chard or peppers can be especially ornamental because of their many colors.


It is also important to consider common pests and diseases for any edible plants considered for a home landscape.


“An advantage to spreading them out over the landscape is that generally, diseases and pests are less of a nuisance that way than when the plants were all grouped together into one garden spot,” said Byers.


Edible landscaping will likely require more maintenance than the more common landscape plants for them to produce well.


“Just remember, you are getting more out of these plants than just good looks,” said Byers.


For more information, Byers can be reached at the Greene County Extension Center in Springfield, MO at (417) 881-8909.


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Last update: Monday, May 09, 2011