Edible Landscaping

Food production and beautiful landscaping don’t have to be at odds.

In fact, there are tons of options for complementing/replacing traditional ornamental lawns and landscaping with plants that will please both your eye, palate and stomach.

Of course, before starting, renters should make sure that changing any existing landscaping is ok with their landlord. Tilling up a yard or making any significant changes to the grass can cost money to undo if you move. If you are renting a house with some land attached, there is a good chance you can work out something with your landlord if you have a long enough lease.

You can also use containers or window boxes to grow food. These are not something that you have to get permission for, and they are a great option for those with patios and balconies. Containers also allow you to grow some things that have to be brought in when temperatures drop below freezing.

Garden Towers and other vertical gardens

You can grow a lot more food and create some attractive landscaping features by taking advantage of unused vertical space. Letting vines grow on concrete walls and house foundations is one popular way to do this that doesn't cost a lot. Sometimes you will need to add some type of grid. Wood is not recommended for the long term because it rots. I would advise avoiding any vines growing on your house at all if it is mostly wood. There is a danger of fire, too, if the vines dry out.

Trellises, arbors, and cages all help provide a vertical framework for edible landscapes. If you like to do an art project once in a while, you could bend wires and create wire sculptures for plants to grow on.

Window boxes

Herbs and microgreens in window boxes will help cut your grocery bill. Edible flowers are another option.

Planters and containers on wheels

You can grow some big plants in containers, especially if you have them on dollies that you can move around wherever you want. This is helpful if you live in a place where temperatures dip below freezing. Plenty of people grow lemons, limes, and more in fairly cold places because they have the ability to bring plants inside or put them in a greenhouse when temperatures dip.

Hanging baskets

A hanging basket is beautiful when filled with cherry tomatoes or strawberries. These are a good choice for hanging off of porches or overhead on a balcony as long as plants can get enough light.

Blueberry Bushes

I love how easy blueberry bushes are to grow and how they can withstand a wide variety of climates. You can plant blueberries around your home for a pretty shrub that yields a lot of highly valuable fruit. Some blueberries will produce throughout a long growing season, whereas others will yield one large crop during a short harvest period. It can be nice for rural and urban homesteaders to have bushes that provide berries throughout the season. If you prefer to get one large crop and get all your preserving done in a short time, then choose short-season varieties. Some people find that having both types of blueberries is the best for them.

Blueberries can be grown in pots in many areas. A reader has told me in a colder climate that it doesn’t work well in extremely cold temperatures because the root ball freezes. If you live where it is very cold, you may want to provide some extra protection to your blueberry plants that are in containers during the winter months.

Dwarf and Semi-Dwarf Fruit Trees

Smaller fruit trees start to produce fruit earlier than standard trees, but they do not have as long a lifespan. The shorter height makes them much easier for the average person to harvest, and you can plant more trees per acre. You can plant dwarf apple trees a mere 10 ft apart, and their reduced height makes pruning and harvesting a lot easier. If you want a tree to provide a lot of shade to sit under, then a semi-dwarf may be a better option. Always check the expected size of any tree before you buy and plant. What constitutes a semi-dwarf, dwarf, or standard varies by fruit. For example, a standard plum reaches the same height as a semi-dwarf apple.

Columnar Apple Trees

I like to mention these trees because they are great for borders and for growing in containers. Columnar trees only reach 18 inches wide but provide a lot of apples for their size. Instead of a non-productive privacy hedge, why not have one that looks prettier and provides bushels of fruit? For even more beauty and to experience a variety of apples, you could plant your columnar apple trees on a color scheme. For example, grow a green, red, and golden variety and then repeat the pattern until you fill your space.


A few grapes can be lovely and yield a lot of fruit. The key is to plant species that work well in your area. The wine grapes you are familiar with from the grocery store do not do well in cold or rainy climates. Cold hardy and disease-resistant grape varieties are widely available through mail order. You can grow grapes in climates that experience temperatures as low as -40 F.

You can use grapes to create a shaded arbor on your patio that is nice to enjoy on a hot day.


  • Blackberries
  • Loganberries
  • Marion Berries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
While many brambles have thorns, some domestic varieties do not. You will notice wild blackberries or raspberries because they are smaller than the domestic canes you get when you order from catalogs such as Stark Bros. This year my husband and I bought some Kiowa Blackberry canes that yield a berry that is as long as your small finger.

Note: Black and Red Raspberries should not be planted within 75-100 feet of each other. Overall I cannot recommend planting Black Raspberries due to their susceptibility to viral diseases carried by aphids on other Raspberry varieties.

Top Vegetables For Edible Landscaping

While there are no firm rules about what you can plant, some vegetables work out well for a lot of aspiring edible landscapers. Here is a brief list to consider. Think of this list as something to build off of. What can you add to make your landscaping more colorful and delicious at the same time?

Edible Flowers

Note: Make sure when purchasing plants and seeds that you are getting a flower that is edible. It can be easy to get confused with a similar name or blossom. If the scientific name is listed on a tag, it is easy to compare that to the scientific name you know to be edible.

  • Day Lily
  • Borage
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Pansy
  • Squash Blossoms
Culinary Herbs


  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Lavender

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Planting different colors of peppers can create a bright and cheerful display around the outside of your home. Mixing sweet and hot peppers into your landscape gives various shapes and a wide range of contrasting colors. Be careful, and don’t go overboard planting hot peppers. A few plants will grow as many hot peppers as you want, even if you like to eat a lot of spicy food.


  • Bunch Onions
  • Egyptian Walking Onions
  • Garlic
  • Red, white, or yellow bulb onions
  • Chives (This little herb loves to spread. You will have to take steps to control it, such as giving it a tiny little bed with a divider or just growing it in a pot.)

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Pole beans make good use of vertical space, have pretty flowers, and then you can enjoy the color and beauty of the maturing bean pods. While green may be the color that you think of when you hear the word bean, the truth is that there are beans in a lot of different colors and patterns. Just take a look at any seed catalog with a good selection, and you will likely find a few colorful varieties suitable for your climate and growing season.

  • Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Rhubarb
  • Chard
  • I recommend Rainbow Chard because it tastes great, is highly nutritious, and you get items that are yellow, purple, red, pink, and green.

Seasonally Rotated Gardens

Planning out when you plant what is essential to producing a continuous abundance of vegetables is smart. This schedule will be dependent on your region. It is a good idea to get an early start on Spring gardens so you can get as much out of your entire growing season as possible.

Raised Beds


Raised bed gardening is popular for many reasons. You can establish a raised bed without tilling, for starters, if you bring in your soil and other amendments. You can also use chickens in a chicken tractor to build up beds to a high fertility level. Raised beds allow people to grow gardens where the actual soil may be too poor to produce enough.

The sides of raised beds can be made of wood, concrete, or rock. Cypress is a good rot-resistant board to use if you can find it. There is some debate over the use of treated lumber for garden beds. In the past, treated lumber was created with arsenic, but now copper is used. I think you should definitely avoid using any lumber scavenged from older homes with any paint or other treatments. Up until the late 1970s, lead-based paints were being used.

Small To Medium Sized Greenhouses

While greenhouses are not landscaping, they can become an excellent addition to the overall landscape and provide you with a private refuge during the dark and cold months of the year.

There are so many small greenhouse kits available. I have to say that some take days to put together, and it helps to have someone to assist you when you put them together. Different thicknesses of panels are out there, so it is essential to make sure you are getting a greenhouse that is suitable for your climate. Plenty of DIY types have constructed greenhouses out of reclaimed windows and glass panels. Remember that glass that is not tempered is prone to breakage and will break into shards if hit hard enough. Glass greenhouse that is not made from reclaimed materials are typically made with tempered glass. You could use window security film to prevent the glass from breaking into shards. I could see this being a reasonable option if you have a lot of recycled materials to use because you would save a lot of money overall.

Transitioning From Yard To Edible Landscaping

If a lot of chemicals have been used in your yard in the past, you may want to give it some time before you grow anything. A month of not using anything is advisable if a lot of chemicals were used.

Yards with lots of grass will need to be plowed or tilled and cultivated well. Be prepared for grass to come up often when first establishing your garden beds and edible landscaping. Mulch can help with this if you want to add organic matter and do not have the time to weed as often as needed at the beginning of your edible landscaping adventure.

What are you allowed to do?

If you live in a planned community or anywhere that has an HOA (Homeowner's Association), there may be some rules regarding what is allowed in your yard. At the same time, you may not have worried that much about what you signed when you moved in; you could be in for a big surprise when it comes to making significant changes around your home. Some areas may not allow a lot of gardening projects. That is not to say that rules cannot be changed if most people agree or that exceptions are not made. Fencing around gardens, mulch and compost piles, etc., may also be regulated.

Planning Out Your Space

Sketching out or using a computer program and aerial shot of your property can be good ways to plan your edible landscaping projects in great detail before embarking on them. Then again, you can just start planning out a small space at a time. Creating a blueprint for your whole space is most helpful if you care about the overall theme and look a lot and want to get things just so.

For a great example of edible landscaping around a home, check out Jim Kunstler’s garden projects over at his site.

Rooftop Gardens and Landscaping

There are some beautiful examples of rooftop gardens in cities. Sometimes this can be a great project for multiple families in a building to enjoy. If you have a building to yourself that has a flat roof then you need to do some calculating and planning before creating a landscape up there. A roof is only designed to hold so much weight. You do not want to find yourself in the position of overloading your roof. A building inspector may be able to help you figure out what is safe to do. Some flat roofs are not made to be walked on regularly so you will need to consider that.

Your edible landscaping will attract wildlife.

Even if you are not near any major forests or wildland, there is a decent chance you will have some trouble with animals trying to eat your garden.
  • Groundhogs or Wood Chucks
  • Deer
  • Mice and Rats
  • Rabbits
  • Raccoon
  • Opossums
  • Skunks
  • Squirrels
  • Birds
How you handle these types of pests is a somewhat personal decision, but you may also have to abide by some laws if you live within city limits. Lives traps allow you to capture animals and relocate them, although there are a few like skunks that you won't want to transport.

Air rifles and pistols are a lethal option that doesn’t make a noise like a bullet. Fences can help prevent some intrusion, especially if you have a dog that patrols within the fence. It can take some time to train your dog to stay out of the garden and landscaped areas, but it is well worth it. Even our ten-month-old German Shepherd has learned that some areas are off-limits. He doesn’t dig in them or lay in them.

Compost piles can be particularly attractive to animals. Rotting and composting food attracts mice and rats. If you have a cat, they can help reduce any damages. I will warn you that some people have a problem with cats that are allowed outside to roam their yards and hunt, especially if they see your cat catch a squirrel or bird. I think cat’s fill an important niche. If they didn’t hunt the smaller wildlife, another predator would move in to fill the gap. That is how nature tends to work, like it or not.

Edible Landscaping Books

Here are a few popular books on edible landscaping and raised bed gardens.

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide To Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway

Landscaping with Fruit: Strawberry ground covers, blueberry hedges, grape arbors, and 39 other luscious fruits to make your yard an edible paradise. (A Homeowners Guide) By Lee Reich

Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden By Tammy Wylie


Edible landscaping is a great option for those that are tired of maintaining a lawn that doesn't offer them a lot. Edible landscaping is beautiful and it can add to the curb appeal and value of your home. Using edible plants for landscaping is not just for those that own their house. Containers, small removable greenhouses, and seasonal garden beds are realistic options for renters that have lenient landlords.

Have you converted your yard to gardens and edible landscapes? What do you recommend for dealing with unwelcome wildlife?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/edible-landscaping/

I love this topic. Thank you Samantha.
Calendula is also a lovely, easy to grow, edible and extremely medicinal flower. I use it in skin care goodies.

Hey Samantha! The morels are flushing north of Asheville! woohoo! How about out your way?

A great article, thank you. One of my favourite herbs is lovage, fantastic in soups and stews. It grows up to 6ft and has pretty foliage and flowers so makes a good screen or feature. I have a couple of the column apple trees and they produce lots, they need to be staked all their life though as they can’t support the weight of apples.

Purslane!!  There are wonderful cultivars that produce large, meaty leaves.  It is one of the most nutritional greens we can grow.

Tea/medicinal flowers are great perennials to add, echinacea, chamomile, mints, lemon balm, calendula and they’re pretty. Mints can take over quickly, I like them in pots.
Kale is great. It will add a splash of color into the fall or mild winter. Mine came back this spring after cutting back in the winter and tossing some leaf mulch over it.
I’ve had luck planting herbs, kale and squash throughout the landscape. The kale and squashes outside of my garden last year grew more robust than the ones in the garden and were spared being destroyed by the cabbage moth and squash beetle.
This year I’ve added strawberries, chard, choi, leaf lettuce, artichoke, peas and a few cherry tomatoes into the landscape.

I’m thinking about planting more garden in the front lawn area so the house basically won’t have a front lawn. Just wheat that looked like a front lawn, until the birds ate it.
I’m a little afraid of the real estate implications of not having a front lawn, but I think that might be Yuppie Suburbia roots.

I love seeing that you included daylilies! Those are one of my current favorites for easy to grow edible perennials that produce food over a fairly wide range of the season. Though in my case I have several varieties that seem to flower at different times extending the bud and flower harvesting period. The early shoots are edible too! I haven’t yet dug any of mine up for the tubers but I understand those are edible. I really must try that.
Another great perennial edible I’ve found is common milkweed, Asclepius syriaca. The buds, flowers, and immature pods are all edible though you do need to cook them. It’s another plant I’ve found to give an abundance of food over a wide range of time. I actually wrote a blog post some time ago about both these if anyone is interested.
For those interested in perennial edibles (I think perennials are esp. nice for landscaping) you might want to check out the perennial vegetable forum section over at Permies.com. It’s fairly active with people sharing info on the subject.

Milkweed also has the benefit of attracting monarch. I’d suggest planting hedgerows of cflowring native cultivars from your area that attract pollinators to your garden. Native monarda, butterflyweed, liatris, pentesemon, lobelia, coreosis, whatever is native to your area. Native, rather than cultivars, if possible.

I am not sure. I have not looked. Hope you find a lot! I have not had any to eat in years. If we ever get a good rain we should have a good flush of shiitakes from our logs!

Deer in our area mow down just about everything, and the birds take care of what they leave behind.

Good information, Samantha. Thanks!
I recently stumbled upon a gold mine of urban forest garden topics on youtube. Hope some of you get as much enjoyment and advice as I have. James Prigioni’s The Garden Channel.

A neighbor I grew up with has been doing permaculture for 20 years now.
Here’s a link to his website:
My biggest problem is bugs. I can keep the animals out with fences, but the japanese bettles and potato bugs limit what I can grow somewhat.

>>> I can keep the animals out with fences, but the japanese bettles and potato bugs limit what I can grow somewhat.
Is that something that Praying Mantis will take care of ?
It sounds like you’re an experienced gardener.

I don’t believe we have praying mantis in central Wisconsin. I don’t like to spray my crops, so the amount of time I’m willing to spend picking bugs, restricts both the size and types of crops I grow.
Pole beans are out. I can grow small crops of potatoes. Last year beetles went after my sweet corn crop. Normally, they don’t bother it much. I will not reduce the size of that crop. I love sweet corn, fresh from the garden.

I think the most important thing that needs to be understood by all is that there is no free lunch. Growing something then consuming it removes those nutrients and calories from the soil and must then be put back.
If you plant something in a spot, let it grow, harvest it, then plant something there again it will grow but not as well as the first time. The next time you plant there it will be stunted or may not even grow at all. Most people think, ok I just need to fertilize that spot and then I can plant as many times as I want.
Two things; First the “Feeding of the soil”, the type and amount of fertilizing you need to do is nearly equal to the feed you will be able to harvest. Second there is so much more going on with generating and maintaining live, healthy soil than simply the fertilizer.
Interestingly this is exactly the same situation with regard to humans and disease. A vaccine does not make you healthy, a healthy biome does not need a vaccine it needs all the other elements that comprises a healthy body. So does soil need all of what makes for a healthy biome which will produce healthy food.
Organic, permaculture, sustainable ag, none of these truly address regenerating a complete healthy biome and still producing a steady flow of healthy food. Some come close but most still factor in some magical free lunch.

>>> I don’t believe we have praying mantis in central Wisconsin.
You can buy praying mantis egg cases at some garden supply stores.
They will tend to go where the food is. It might help to put some fine netting around the buggy plants, where you put the egg case, to keep the baby praying mantis’ near their “job site”.

I really do, 'cause she…
Oops sorry, I thought this was oedipal landscaping.

I garden largely to hone skills I may have to rely on, at least in part, if things break down.
There are ways to use the same ground repeatedly, even though they are not free. I’ve grown an excellent crop in a sheet mulch of 60-70% chopped leaves mixed with grass clippings. These are items I would otherwise have to dispose of. The Mittleider gardening method uses a fertilizer mix that will grow a crop in medium, like sand and sawdust. It’s not free, but not outrageously expensive either. I’ve grown excellent tomatoes like that.
But to your point, my garden doesn’t save me money. For now, it costs more than it saves, but I’ll know what I’m doing if I ever have to produce a larger portion of my food.
I recall Tom Hemenway saying a typical Permaculture setup produces perhaps 25% of household needs.

Ha ha!
Quite funny but random Mike.