University of Florida

The Neighborhood Gardener –
Incorporating an Edible Garden into the Landscape

Edible landscaping combines fruit and vegetable plants with ornamentals for a landscape that is both flavorful and attractive.

Just as with traditional landscapes, an important element in designing your edible yard is appearance. After all, you won’t just be eating these plants—you'll want them to accent your landscape’s appearance with texture, color, and variety.

You might want to experiment with a few plants before you take on the full project to see what grows well and what looks best intertwined with your ornamentals. Also be sure to select plants suited to your winter temperatures. Some temperate fruits demand cold weather, whereas tropical fruits can’t tolerate it.

The most attractive design is going to come with healthy plants. Keep in mind that most fruits and vegetables need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, with well-draining soil. Once you’ve picked the right location, there are a variety of ways to incorporate tasty edibles into the landscape:

  • Grow herbs outside your kitchen like rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, and oregano; they’ll blend in well with flowering perennials.
  • Blueberries, figs, guavas, and elderberries can all be substituted for shrubs.
  • Build a grape arbor or pergola.
  • Natal plum and Feijoa are already used as hedge plants, and the fruits can be made into jelly.
  • Tuck yellow and red Swiss chard or purple kale into a flower bed or border.
  • Grow edible flowers such as violets, nasturtiums, and pansies from seed and use them in your salads and teas.
  • Strawberries can also be an attractive groundcover in sunny spots.
  • Replace traditional shade trees with a citrus, avocado, carambola, or pear tree.

Some edible plants require more attention than traditional ornamentals. To produce fruit and vegetables, they often need considerable amounts of water, fertilizer, and pest management. Monitor your plants closely and tend to them as necessary. Harvest your edibles daily or weekly as needed during the harvesting period. Don’t let fruits or vegetables rot in your landscape; it may attract vermin.

Edible landscapes are rewarding if properly maintained and designed correctly. Contact your local University of Florida extension agent to determine which edibles will grow best in your area.

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