Whether preparing your house for sale or trying out a new hobby, sprucing up the landscaping on your lot is never a bad idea. Instead of opting for traditional features like a manicured lawn, shapely shrubs, and perfectly pruned trees, consider venturing into the realm of edible landscaping, or foodscaping. The idea is simple: by incorporating edible plants into residential landscaping, homeowners can create gorgeous, colorful landscapes that fully utilize the land while also producing sustainable, delicious produce.
Though they are aesthetically appealing, typical lawns don’t make much practical or environmental sense. Lawns in the United States require 9 billion gallons of water per day and take up three times as much space as corn, according to a 2015 NASA study. Furthermore, lawn maintenance can be time-consuming, expensive, and the lawnmowers and power tools used typically consume gas and emit pollutants. By thinking outside of the box and opting for foodscaping over traditional landscaping, homeowners can enjoy numerous benefits that come from planting edible greenery.
Also called “unlawning,” edible landscaping seeks to turn underutilized lawns into fertile, consumable landscapes that make use of a variety of plants. Because foodscapes typically contain native plant species and a wide variety of fruit- and vegetable-bearing plants, edible landscapes have much more biodiversity, nutrient-rich soil, and beneficial wildlife conditions. In addition to utilizing otherwise wasted space, edible landscapes can reduce one’s carbon footprint by reducing the amount of trips to the grocery store and energy to maintain a traditional lawn. Furthermore, homeowners with edible landscapes can delight in knowing exactly which fertilizers and pesticides (if any) are in their food, and can take ownership over growing healthy and sustainable food in their own backyards.
Perhaps the most striking feature of edible landscaping is the aesthetic component, namely how bold and varying the lawns may be, depending on what is planted and the climate. Edible flowers like hibiscus, pansies, and lavender make for striking garnishes and flavors in dishes, and add vibrant color to a green space. Peppers, which vary greatly in shape, size, and flavor, are ornamental yet tasty additions. Fresh herbs like rosemary, mint, sage, oregano, thyme, and basil are easy to grow and are excellent to have on hand to elevate a simple meal into an elegant dish.
Edible landscaping is not to be confused with urban farming; the intention is not to turn lawns into overgrown jungles bursting with enough produce to feed the neighborhood. Instead, foodscaping marks a conscious shift in not only how we think about the interior space of our home but also the external environment and nature surrounding it. It may be as simple as bordering the sidewalk with lettuce, or planting grapevines at the corner of your pergola instead of a flowering vine, or growing fruit trees in the backyard. The boundless creativity and aesthetic potential offered by edible landscaping is reason enough to consider opting for a more sustainable, delicious solution when sprucing up the landscaping of your home.