Yard to Table

Foodscaping That Looks as Good as it Tastes

By Mimi Greenwood Knight

Landscaping our yards adds to their curb appeal, to say nothing of what it does for our spirits to be surrounded by ever-changing beauty. But whether you live on a ranch with acreage or a lot in the suburbs, your landscape can do more than just look nice. It can feed you the freshest fruits, vegetables, and herbs grown just outside your door. Edible trees and plants can be just as lovely, and provide just as much seasonal color, privacy, and shade—and you can’t beat the fun of plucking your dinner ingredients right off the branch or vine.

Try a few of these combinations of edible and inedible plantings.

  • Orange tulips underplanted with mesclun salad mix and bordered with parsley or frilly lettuces
  • Red or orange cherry tomatoes growing over an arbor interplanted with blue or purple morning glories
  • Cucumbers climbing a trellis to form a backdrop for a splash of coral gladiolus
  • Gold zucchini and yellow dahlias bordered by red zinnias and purple basil
  • A bed of fernlike carrots surrounded by dwarf nasturtiums
  • A path bordered with dwarf red runner beans backed with giant, red-and-white-striped peppermint zinnias
  • A wooden planter overflowing with strawberries and burgundy-leaved cannas

These come recommended by MotherEarthNews.com, and their online garden planning tool can help get you started.


Food from your yard requires no shipping, little refrigeration, and less energy to plow, plant, spray, and harvest than store-bought produce. You know which chemicals (if any) you use, and huge batches of vegetables won’t be combined and therefore can’t contaminate each other.

Tests show that most home gardeners use less than half the water required by agricultural production, and you can pick and eat your homegrown foods with all their nutritional value still intact, rather than consuming them after they’ve endured truck travel often over thousands of miles, all the while losing nutritional content.

Edible plants can be interspersed with ornamental varieties. You might install decorative borders of flowering herbs, rainbow chard, or color-popping peppers to your flowerbeds or mint as groundcover. Instead of the fleeting color of spring azaleas, blueberry bushes are decorative year-round. Asparagus plants are perennial—living up to 10 years—and are topped with a lovely, feathery fern. Pear and plum trees put on a stunning spring show of flowers, have decorative fruits in summer, and yellow foliage in fall.

Just like their inedible counterparts, fruit and vegetable plants come in an array of textures, colors, sizes, and shapes and in annual and perennial varieties. Start slowly by incorporating a few herbs and fruit trees. Let websites like Insteading.com help get you started. But always make sure to check your local zoning laws to see what’s allowed in your area. Happy foodscaping!

Read more about growing your own food HERE on LivingMagazine.net

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