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Edible Landscaping: Growing Food in Your Yard

Posted on May 23rd, 2024

Edible landscaping has existed for centuries. Mixing crops with beautiful ornamental plants was already common practice even before the establishment and growth of the Roman Empire. Also known as foodscaping, edible gardening continued in medieval monasteries until the Renaissance.

Rosalind Creasy published the book Edible Landscaping in the 1980s, which was invaluable to home gardeners. The practice became popular and was systematized in 1999 through the pioneering efforts of Institute of Crop Science professor Dr. Leonido R. Naranja.

These efforts set forth the best practices for homeowners who want to add edible plants to their yards without disrupting the elegance and design of their ornamentals. This guide covers the best practices and other essential concepts of edible landscaping so you can add healthy food options to an already beautiful landscape.

For expert guidance on incorporating edible plants into your landscape, contact us at 1-888-649-9919 or visit our Contact Us page to speak with one of our specialists.

What is Edible Gardening?

Edible gardening or foodscaping is the practice of growing edible plants for consumption in your garden or containers alongside other plants and ornamental greens in your yard.

The idea behind this practice is to plant and grow veggies and other edible plants and herbs without uprooting any existing landscape elements. This means you don’t need to exchange a bed of roses for a vegetable pod or garden bed. With some careful planning, edible vegetation can enhance the beauty of your existing landscape.

You can plant fruits, vegetables, herbs, and even edible flowers. The goal of edible gardening is to produce fresh, nutritious, and delicious food for personal use or for sharing with others. Food crops can be planted alongside flowers and other ornamentals and serve as highlights to the theme of your outdoor spaces.

Important Aspects of Foodscaping

There are several factors to consider before incorporating crops into your landscaped outdoor spaces. You must pay attention to the available space, location, soil types, and other essential lawn care practices to ensure all your plants and herbs grow and thrive.

  • Plant What You Eat: Choose the plants that you eat. Don’t just plant veggies or herbs because they’re the latest trend in the neighborhood. Make sure to choose greens that are part of your everyday diet. You can include vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and carrots. Some homeowners opt for fruits like strawberries, blueberries, apples, and herbs such as basil, mint, and rosemary. 
  • Soil and Nutrients: Make sure your crops will be planted in soil with enough nutrients to thrive. This might involve testing and amending soil, composting, overseeding, and using organic fertilizers to improve soil quality.
  • Location and Space: Determine the best spot to grow your edible plants. Some vegetables, like peppers and tomatoes, require more sunlight, so place them in the sunny areas of your yard. You can add raised beds or containers on a patio or balcony to accommodate herbs that add a touch of color to your hardscapes and landscapes or even indoors on window sills. For instance, you can add lavender, thyme, sage, or rosemary, where their flowers and foliage can create highlights among other plants.
  • Watering and Care: Provide appropriate watering and care for your plants. Schedule regular watering, mulching, weeding, and pest control. You may need to install a new sprinkler system to provide efficient watering for your new garden setup.

These practices will ensure your crops thrive along with ornamental plants and shrubs in your landscape. Consider harvest and planting cycles and adjust water and fertilizer levels accordingly.

Plant Selection and Aesthetics

Choosing the right crops and herbs is crucial in foodscaping. Aside from planting crops that are already part of your regular diet, other important aspects will help enhance your landscape’s aesthetics. Here are factors to consider when boosting your garden’s visual appeal using edible plants.


Vibrant colors add visual interest to your garden. Add crops with colorful foliage, such as purple basil, rainbow chard, or red cabbage. Add colorful fruits and vegetables with bright hues, like tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. Make sure to select plants that have colors that complement each other, matching your overall garden design.


Mixing plants with different leaf shapes and textures creates depth and complexity in your garden. One technique combines different plants with rough-textured leaves, like sage or rosemary. Another method combines rough and smoother leaves, such as basil or lettuce. In addition, try to incorporate plants with varying leaf sizes and patterns. For instance, you can place kale with curly leaves alongside parsley that has a flat leaf. This practice adds visual interest to your landscape.


Choose plants that have matching heights to add dimension to your garden. Place taller plants, like corn or tomatoes, towards the back and shorter plants, like herbs or lettuce, towards the front.

Edible Flowers

Flowers like nasturtiums, calendula, and pansies are also edible. Nasturtiums produce vibrant orange, yellow, or red flowers with a peppery flavor. At the same time, calendula offers bright orange or yellow blooms that are slightly tangy. Pansies come in various colors and have a mild, slightly sweet taste. Not only do they add vibrant colors to your landscape, they also make the perfect garnish for your salads.

Companion Planting

Some plants blend well when planted together, enhancing your landscape’s aesthetics and helping the entire garden thrive. Combining the right plants can also boost garden health. For example, planting marigolds alongside tomatoes helps to deter pests due to their strong scent. Integrating aromatic herbs like basil or dill among your vegetables attracts beneficial insects and pollinators.

Work with Foodscaping Specialists from Turf Unlimited

Seasoned professionals from Turf Unlimited can help you choose and incorporate the best herbs, crops, and edible plants to add to your landscape. 

Leverage over 27 years of gardening and landscaping experience when you work with our team. We proudly serve residents in Middlesex County. Contact us today to get a quote.

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