Perennial garden plans are a great way to "set it and forget it", in the design sense. If you want your edible landscape to have the same look (except perhaps more filled in) year after year, a garden composed completely out of edible perennials is a good way to go, especially for the front yard.
Perennial garden plants can take some patience, as it may be three or more years until a perennial reaches its mature height and fullness. The sight of a lush, elegant, edible perennial landscape will more than reward your time and care.
Because you will be seeing the same plants year after year, you may want to sit down and think about what colors you'd like, what your family likes to eat, and the sort of shapes and textures you'd like.
The color scheme of your perennial garden plans should complement the colors in your home's exterior, not clash with them.
How do you know what colors a plant has before you plant it? You can check out Google Images, read plant catalogs, or talk to the people at your local nursery or gardening group. (or once I get my list of perennials filled in you can always visit them!)
You want to get information about how the plant looks over an entire season -- the way a perennial looks in the pot or on a web page is probably not telling you the whole story.
Think about how your yard will change with the seasons. Do the plants you're choosing flower? Change color in the fall? Drop their leaves or need to be cut back in winter?
One way to make sure you don't get any surprises is to make a chart of the perennial plants you want to use:
|Plant||Spring colors||Summer colors||Fall colors||Winter colors|
|Asparagus||green shoots (edible!)||green fern||green to orange||yellow: cut back|
|Rosemary||dark green||dark green||dark green||dark green|
|light blue flowers|
|Tea rose||dark green||dark green||dark green||dark green|
|firehouse red flowers|
I indicated that a plant flowers for more than one season by placing the words across multiple seasons.
Using this chart, you can go down your wish list and see at once which color schemes will and won't work for you. This chart can be expanded to indicate size, fruiting times, or any other parameter you want to track in your perennial garden plans.
Time to go outside!
Measure the area you'd like to use for your
perennial garden plans and make a sketch of the area, noting where the
house is, any existing trees, fencing, or other features that you want
to keep, and plants or infrastructure you want to remove. You also need
to mark where power lines, sewer lines, and water lines are.
This paper doesn't have to be perfect art, as this is just a way for you to figure out what you're doing. Graph paper is useful if you're concerned about exact measurements (and is really helpful for formal gardens), but it isn't required.
For an informal perennial garden, a hose is helpful in planning out the kind of shapes you'd like for paths, garden beds, and walkways. You're looking for gentle curves in this case. For geometric patterns or straight lines, lengths of PVC pipe or 2x4's are helpful, because they're light enough to move around your yard.
Don't be shy! Use whatever you need to get a good look at your plan. If you can't picture how tall a perennial will be, get a friend to hold up a piece of wood cut to the plant's mature height, then move it around to where it will look best. Mark down your findings so you don't forget them.
Once you figure out your pathways, your garden bed shapes, and where you larger perennials will go, you can start planning the placement of your smaller perennials.
Remember to group them in odd numbers -- the smaller the plant is, the more you should put in any one area to keep your edible landscape from looking cluttered.
Some people like to make copies of their page and try coloring in their garden's colors for each season, just to make sure it will look right. Or you can make colored circles corresponding to each plant and move them around the page to where you want them. Have fun with it! Just remember to write down what you end up deciding.
When you're done, you have your perennial garden plans completed, with the area's shapes, plants, and pathways planned.
Congratulations! You are now ready to begin work.
There's no need to do everything at once. You certainly can rip out your whole yard or hire a contractor to do so, but there's no reason why you can't plant your trees in the fall, plant your smaller perennials in the spring, and lay your concrete paths in the summer.
There's nothing wrong with taking several years to put your perennial garden plans into action. How you do it and how fast you do it is completely up to you.
Would you like to talk more about making perennial garden plans with people who love edible landscaping as much as you do? Join the Tasteful Landscape community. Just fill out the form and follow the instructions:
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