Edible Landscapes

Kelly McLaughlin
Kelly McLaughlin Posts: 7 ✭✭
edited September 2018 in Our Garden: Growing Food
Make sure that your sweet potatoes are just that and not yams. Their greens are not edible.

I am far from Texas being from the Canadian prairies, but have put both feet in your wonderful state literally only once(!). I can share some planting tips, but unfortunately, specifics are not something that I can give considering our vastly different conditions.

I have an interest in planting things in my yard that are edible for either me or the birds. I worked at a plant nursery for years in the trees & shrubs department, so understand landscaping and more permanent plantings. I also come from a long line of fantastic gardeners.

Keep in mind your climate & soil type of course, any full sun/partial shade/shade, and drainage...and fit your plants to your space. If you might have a microclimate that gives this spot a different zone rating, keep this in mind as well. If you have sidewalks, driveways or foundations close by, consider root spread as well as some roots can damage these things and it can get costly! Plant everything keeping the mature size in mind so that you don't have an odd fitting surprise a few years down the road. Up here, I have seen that people forget (or dont care) that evergreens tend to get bigger than their cute little garden center size. This leads to covering & wrecked sidewalks, windows being covered, etc. Keep in mind that what you plant today can affect future owners. Don't create a future problem.

Research the types of plants that you might like that roughly suit your zone (zones are only a suggestion), and organize your list in terms of size (height/spread), notes on each plant's texture/appearance, color during various seasons if that might be important to you, and so on. This will add visual appeal to your planting, which is good for your emotional/spiritual health. :) Consider medicinal trees/shrubs/plants too, keeping in mind what you are most likely to take advantage of.

Use a permaculture approach, which I consider just plain old good farming practice, planting your main tree (if you want a tree), shrubs that are shorter around it, and so on. Keep in mind that you will need some space (maybe a stone path?) to get in there to harvest! ;) Do a simple sketch to get a rough visual.

Have fun. I would! :D I love the idea of your project. Once you are done, please post a picture or two!


  • Kelly McLaughlin
    Kelly McLaughlin Posts: 7 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Thanks Laurie, there is a lot of good advice in your comment. :)
  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Posts: 643 admin
    edited September 2018
    I can also not give any specifics for Texas but I do some edible landscaping in my front yard.

    I am using basil as low borders which is looking nice and formal and gives a bountiful harvest of herb. swiss chard if using the bright lights variety gives some pretty looking colorful plants. Or I tried ornamental landscaping with different types of salad, green, brown mixtures.

    Do not forget the flowers like french marigold, calendula, borage, sage, lavendula. Or plant a fruit hedge out of berry bushes or espalier trees.

    Some more tips on edible landscaping with a bit of permaculture you can find here:

  • Dominica
    Dominica Posts: 42
    edited September 2018
    You can plant peppers. There are many varieties that are compact and very beautiful in a landscape. Some showy varieties are NuMex Twilight, Black Pearl and Filius Blue. Besides the pods, I also like to eat pepper leaves after I cook them. They taste a bit like spinach and are very tasty!
  • peppypoblano
    peppypoblano Posts: 92
    edited September 2018
    When I lived in Texas I yanked out all the shrubs in front of the house and planted veggies.  The winter squash took up over a fourth of the front yard.    For a more compact garden though you might consider eggplant.  I grew white and Japanese.  Both were relatively compact and produced quite a bit.
  • alindsay22
    alindsay22 Posts: 129 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Northern CA here so might not be exactly the same, but some ideas for your solid permanent foliage - pomegranite, pineapple guava (evergreen, tolerates shade and drought), rosemary (evergreen - this might be a lower shrub but mine is like 5' tall), kiwi, elder, huckleberry.   Lower growing shrubs and grasses - tumeric, ginger, artichoke, lemongrass, Mormon tea (ephedra - dessert brush), currants.   Then fill in with flowers and herbs - echinacea, calendula, chamomile, and so on.

    Around us we have a lot of "Native and Food" type nurseries, if you have something like that they should be able to guide you.  I'm working on doing this same thing in my front yard so I'm focusing on design as well as function.  If this is your goal too, a good rule of thumb is to plan it out on paper, using evergreens as the foundational plants, then shrubs, then flowers to fill.  I try to have something blooming or fruiting each season as well when I create a landscape.  My two biggest pieces of advice are plan with the full size of the plant in mind (as well as soil, light and water requirements) and always plant what you planned and not what you see at the nursery.

    I have not used these guys, but I am planning on it and I like their site:  https://strictlymedicinalseeds.com/

    Good Luck, share pictures!


  • Kelly McLaughlin
    Kelly McLaughlin Posts: 7 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Thanks everyone! Great info here, and a lot to look into. When I get my edible landscaping in, I’ll post an update.
  • sherryo
    sherryo Posts: 58
    edited September 2018
    I'm z8 Texas.  I've got a bay tree that survives quite well, and I pruned it into shrub form.

    For East Texas, you might be able to use blueberries as a shrub or hedge.  Sassafras might be good too.  Those work well in light acid soils.  Antique roses are another that I grow - look for ones that give good crops of hips.

    Make friends with a small grower at your nearest farmer's market.  They will have experience with growing food plants in your area.