Design ideas for front yard fruit and vegetable gardens
Since fruit and vegetable gardens are escaping their traditional backyard homes and moving into front yards, edible plants are taking a new look at themselves. No one much considered the aesthetics of these plants, but suddenly the ordinary tomato and the practical snap bean are breaking into the fashion world.
As landscaping demands require gardens to become useful as well as beautiful, new design ideas are encouraged. This may require a little creativity, but a front yard fruit and vegetable garden can be both productive and artistic. In fact, the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the designer. Here are some ideas that might get you thinking about creating your own edible masterpiece out of your front yard.
Like any picture, it’s best to sketch your idea out first. With an edible front yard it is probably more important than with the typical flower garden because your design has to be well thought through. Just as a painting can be created in different media, your landscape design can be ‘painted’ with less traditional plants. And like any new media, it is a good idea to either practice first with the new medium or at least plan out how you will get the best out of the new material.
Just like any other landscape design, start by figuring out what permanent features (hardscapes) you will want, how one area will relate to the next, add paths or transitions, figure out any systems that will need to be set into place (like irrigation), and decide where the biggest living plants (like trees and large shrubs) will go. Then you can add planter areas and finish with décor.
Growing fruits and vegetables usually requires at least a half day sun. Design your plantings so each individual plant gets the kind of light, water and sun it needs. This is no different from any other landscape design. Also use sprawling plants as groundcovers, to cascade over walls or to hang from ornamental baskets. Climbers like beans or even melons can clothe trellises, tee-pees or ramble over fences. Shrubs can form backdrops and small, neat plants are ideal to delineate edgings.
Since you will not want to do a lot of pruning to keep edible plants in controlled shape, use forms not only as supports and guides, but as artistic aspects of your garden. Raised garden beds can become artistic with wall decorations, murals or show off bright layers of paint. Build a wall with multicolored bricks, blocks, or wrap it in bamboo fencing. Cover a panel with a lively outdoor fabric print. Or spill ornamental flowers down the side to turn the most ordinary raised garden wall into eye-catching art. You can even develop color schemes to create a theme to your garden.
Speaking of art, you can make a theme garden out of your edible front yard by adding sculptures or fountains. (Try growing water cress in a water garden or plant Corsican mint or penny royal in a damp, shady spot for a lush green carpet.) Build pathways with colorful tiles or interesting stones. Mulch open areas with tumbled glass or colored gravel. Edible plants can be the filler for any artistic design you want to create.
You can keep the arrangement simple and use the plants for the design by carving your front yard garden into geometric patterns each filled with another edible plant. Or copy the elaborate concept of English knot gardens using a mixture of herbs and other low-growing fruits and vegetables.
Mixing common vegetables with flowers is also a good idea. Many common garden flowers are also edible, like the popular marigold, calendula and nasturtium. Some vegetables have colored foliage and showy flowers. Many fruit trees are as flamboyant in flower as non-fruiting ornamental trees. You can even design a theme garden by substituting food plants for the more traditional foliage or flower choices in an otherwise Japanese, Mediterranean, Southwestern or English styled garden.
What ideas can you come up with to turn your front yard into the envy of your neighborhood? Put your imagination to work. With a little planning and creativity, you can design a front yard fruit and vegetable garden that outshines your neighbors less productive landscapes. In fact, some edible gardens can be executed so cleverly that no one will even guess what you have planted until you offer to share your healthy, flavorful produce.
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