attractive vegies - Knowledgebase Question

Traverse City, Mi
Question by cawilli
March 29, 2008

I've recently moved to a home with a great lawn and nice landscaping. I want to grow vegetables, fruit and herbs. However, I don't want to dig up my lawn. I'm looking for suggestions as to how to incorporate vegies into landscaping.


Answer from NGA
March 29, 2008


There are a few things to consider when adding culinary plants to your landscape. First, you want to consider the overall look of the plant. There are different shapes and sizes out there, and some work better than others. There are some herbs and vegetables that can be utilized as annuals, and others that can function as woody evergreen shrubs. Some examples that come to my mind are basil, an annual herb, and rosemary, a woody evergreen shrubby herb. There are other plants that can be used as groundcover (thyme, mint, lemongrass), foundation plants (Mexican bush sage, bay laurel, myrtle), and annual color (parsley, various basil cultivars, lemon verbena). There are many different varieties available, it's just a matter of finding the variety that appeals most to you and your garden.

Another aspect of herbs and veggies that we tend to forget about is their flowering characteristics. Some of these plants have gorgeous or fragrant flowers, and you can find a culinary plant blooming during most times of the year. Some examples of these are squash-like vines, rosemary (which blooms in the winter), sage, and garlic. Also, some of these flowers or even the leaves themselves can carry a fragrance that can spread throughout your garden, like pineapple sage, mint, bee balm, and oregano. Dependent on the plant, you can have a fragrance that ranges from a lemony-sweet smell to a more heavy, musky fragrance. By choosing herbs and vegetables for not only their culinary offerings, but for their flowers and fragrance as well, these plants will give that much more to your garden.

One last thing to consider when designing your mixed landscape is the cultural requirements of these herbs and vegetables. Though there are some exceptions, most of the plants in this category prefer to be in full sun for most of the day. Another good number of these plants are drought-tolerant, and even prefer less water to more. When working out which plant goes where, make sure that you place your culinary plants in the same bed areas as other plants that like the same conditions. This will make for easier maintenance and better plant survival down the road.

Of course you'll want to make sure that you are careful with pesticides that you may use on your ornamentals - not all are safe to use on veggies.

Best wishes with your project!

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