What is edible landscaping?

Edible Landscape Design: Ornamental Asparagus and Edible Flowers

Edible flowers can make an attractive edition to a meal.
Edible flowers can make an attractive edition to a meal.
Thad Samuels Abell Ii/Getty Images

When it comes to what goes into edible landscapes, almost anything does. Depending on the hardiness zone that measures the amount of cold plants can withstand in your geographical region, you can convert almost any yard into an edible garden. You can use many common fruits and vegetables that serve an architectural purpose and produce food, including:

  • Artichokes -- their interesting shape makes distinctive borders
  • Asparagus -- plants grow in a fern shape for ground cover
  • Alpine strawberries -- attractive flowers and bright berries can grow in a yard or container
  • Squashes -- snaking vines can grow well along trellises
  • Mint -- a bright, fast-growing ground cover
  • Lettuce -- its shape and color make it stand out for bordering beds and pathways
  • Kale -- vibrant color works well with flower grouping or lively borders
  • Chard -- bright red, pink or orange stalks work well in almost any location

Certain vegetables pair well with other flower species, such as nasturtiums with summer squash and marigolds with tomatoes. Because of the variety of plants involved with edible landscaping, you can stagger the blooming or harvesting seasons of the plants around your yard to ensure year-round beauty.

Edible flowers can also contribute bursts of color and interest to your garden. People in medieval Europe often ate certain flowers for medicinal purposes, but today, they rarely make it to the dinner table unless they're in a vase. If you want to munch on flowers, you may want to stay away from store-bought varieties since they may contain pesticides. Sprinkle violets, pansies and nasturtiums on lettuce for tasty salads additions. Minced rose petals fold into butter for an exotic spread. You can also use lavender in shortbread cookies.

Familiar edible flowers include:

[source: Creasy]

Before you rip out every inch of grass in your yard, edible landscape experts recommend starting small. At the most, begin with a 100 square foot (9 square meters) plot. Try to find an area that receives at least six hours of full sun each day and drains well. After you select a location, keep in mind that an east-facing garden will get the morning sun, making it amenable to cool weather plants, while a west-facing garden absorbs the warmer afternoon sun.

Edible landscape designs will vary depending on your geography and the layout of your yard. Numerous online and print resources will take you to the next step of finding an appropriate plan for your edible landscape. To browse through some of those other resources, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • Creasy, Rosalind. "The Edible Flower Garden." Periplus Editions Ltd. 1999.
  • Fischer, Eileen. "Vegetable gardening popular again." April 22, 2008. (May 23, 2008)http://www.connpost.com/women/ci_9007593
  • Hagy, Fred. "Landscaping With Fruits and Vegetables." The Overlook Press. 1990.
  • Larkcom, Joy. "Creative Vegetable Gardening." Abbeville Press. 1997.
  • Kourik, Robert; Creasy, Rosalind and Kane; Michael. "Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally." Chelsea Green Publishing. 2005. (May 23, 2008)http://books.google.com/books?id=7IkcPFjjOQMC
  • McClure, Susan. "Culinary Gardens." Fulcrum Publishing. 1997.
  • Nardozzie, Charlie. "Succession in the Garden." April 2008. (May 23, 2008)http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=succession
  • Siegal, Andrea F. "Turning lawns into salad bars." The Baltimore Sun. April 14, 2008. (May 23, 2008)http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bal-to.fritz14apr14,0,6715894.story