By Justin Rohner, Agriscaping Technologies, LLC
The days of the old-fashioned backyard garden may be all but gone. With newer homes on smaller lots and some HOAs that do not allow the typical rowed vegetable gardens to be planted, a few people are getting creative. Enter Agriscaping, or edible landscaping.
Combining gardening techniques with a good amount of creativity, edible landscaping uses not only fruit and vegetable bearing plants, but herbs and yes, even edible flowers, to turn the traditional lawn into a more functional space. By bordering with attractive, flowering chive, accenting with edible flowers such as pansies, nasturtiums, and violets and using mint as a ground cover, edible landscaping encourages growth and harvest rather than tedious maintenance.
While it seems like a novel idea, it is not an entirely new one. Growing food alongside merely ornamental vegetation can be traced back to the 10th century when Benedictine monks created herb-lined gardens with neighboring roses. It wasn’t until the Renaissance that people began intentionally separating purely ornamental plants.
More recently, edible landscaping has taken up an environ-mentalist approach. To some Agriscaping supporters, traditional landscaped yards are a waste of energy due to the pesticides, fertilizers and electric lawn tools that most people use to maintain them. Yet from all of that input, you merely receive the satisfaction of a green lawn instead of fresh food in your kitchen from your own property.
Agriscaping isn’t as scary as it sounds. In fact, incorporating edible plants into your landscaping is not only beneficial to your health, but you will find it fun and rewarding as well.
If you would like to start digging in the dirt, but you aren’t sure what to grow, here are a few varieties of plants and trees that do well in the Front Range area.
Lettuce, chives, mustards, swiss chard, and kale are all easy plants to start with and can add color and vibrancy.
Several varieties of peppers such as black peppers, chili peppers, and sweet peppers along with eggplants, squash and zucchini, cabbages, artichokes and beets can be incorporated in your edible landscape.
With Colorado being known for its craft beers, even hops are a nice choice. They will beautifully cover a trellis or fence and the young strings are delicious.
For shrubs and tree choices, check into Saskatoon or Utah serviceberry, Oregon grape, prairie crabapple, and prickly pear. Pinyon pine, choke cherry, and raspberry plants are also hardy native choices for the edible landscape.
Of course, as mentioned, there are choices for edible flowers as well. Some choices include hostas (blooms), daylilies (tubers, buds), sunflowers (buds), yucca (petals, fruit), lavender (blooms), and nasturtium (leaves, petals).
Your best bet with consuming edible flowers, is to only eat what you have grown. That way you know how the plants have been handled and that they are free of pesticides.
Justin Rohner is the CEO of Agriscaping Technologies, LLC, a company that teaches everyone from novice home gardeners to community garden leaders and even landscape architects how to turn traditional yards into edible, healthy, productive landscapes. For more information visit their website at Agriscaping.com