What Are Your Biggest Challenges With Edible Landscaping?



What makes edible landscaping difficult for you?

Is it pests?

Poor soil?

Not enough knowledge?

Lack of confidence?

Or is it something else?

Think about it for a few minutes then share your thoughts with us. Many times, other people have the same challenges ... it's likely that you're not alone.

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Comments for What Are Your Biggest Challenges With Edible Landscaping?

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Jan 10, 2015
Rabbits and Deer and squirrels oh my!
by: Harriett Jackson

A little about me, I am a member of the Chilton County Master Gardeners Assn.(Alabama) I have knowledge and plenty of space, 11 acres in the woods. My main problems come from critters eating what I grow. I have always stuck veg here and there in my landscape red spring onions in the bulb bed, what bulbs the squirrels didn't dig up and eat. My Dad always planted sweet potatoes under his zinnia bed. So this is not new to me. I am excited about helping others learn about Edible Landscaping and am helping a friend design a new landscape and found this page while researching shade garden edibles. I hope I can be of some help here and there while I learn what others are doing with this and what problems they have. After some reading I have two hints to offer check out your county extension office they have useful information and pick up a soil test kit there so you will know exactly what your soil needs.

Hi, Harriet --

Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad to have you! Thanks for the tips.

Patty

Oct 03, 2014
I'm Old & Disabled in Zone 5
by: Granny Peck

Because of my physical challenged and my harsh winters with short summers I need to plant as many partial and full shade fast growing perennials as possible... and buy the seeds or plants with my limited social insecurity check. I raise some plants for their seeds to sell... but mostly I want a yard that does not look like a veggie patch that contains 99% edibles... we can all dream!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aug 20, 2014
Thorns in my side both the good and bad
by: kb

Since you asked - these are some of the things that I think about:

1. Vines that seem to want to take over everything. I struggle every year just to get to see my rose bushes next year. The rose thorns are the good ones. I live in Ontario Canada. We have banned all kinds of weed killers - basically anything that works. The good news maybe some of us humans will live long if we don't all die from all of the intensive labor. Something natural that kills "bad" weeds and other unwanted plants would be helpful.

2. I love rock gardens that are natural and help control soil errosion.

3. I also love our kitchen herb garden which is an adventure all on its own.

4. Also any plants that attract the butterflies, bees and birds.

Thanks for asking.
kb

Jun 14, 2014
A blank canvas
by: Toni Kenyon

Hi Patty,

I'm joining you from the Antipodes - Auckland, New Zealand to be specific.

It's mid winter here, but we have a semi-tropical climate which means no snow and very few frosts in winter - and warm, damp heat in summer. Summer is Dec/Jan/Feb which some people in the northern hemisphere struggle with :-)

I am in the enviable position of building a new home and having a completely blank canvas to begin my garden. My biggest problem at the moment is putting a great edible landscape design together.

I have plenty of organic growing experience. I compost and have a worm farm and try to plant enough plants for me and the pests!

I understand permaculture principles and have cordoned and espaliered stone & pip fruit in another garden.

I guess I'm just overwhelmed at the idea of starting again from scratch.

Any suggestions are more than welcome.


Hi, Toni --

Congratulations on your new home!

I have several resources that you can look at about starting out:

Should you start all over?

Where to begin?

Can I really design my own garden?

What exactly is edible landscaping?

How to make your own garden landscape design plans

I've created a self-directed online course called Tasteful Yard Design which is specifically to help people who feel overwhelmed by the process.

This course takes you from whatever you have now to a finished edible landscape in a step by step manner, so you don't get deluged with too much information at once.

I hope some of this helps you figure out your next steps! Please contact me if you need more information or help.

May 13, 2014
Barbara Damrosch
by: Jamie

I have to say that THE best book that I have ever read on gardening is by Barbara Damrosch.

When I was taking landscaping classes back in the 80's I bought this book and it turned out to be one of the best investments ever. It is packed with information on everything for gardeners, and, truth be told, I consider it to be my "gardening bible". This book is for beginners, novices and gardening maestros.

I am saddened to my core that I no longer have this book in my library, but, seeing that it is still in print I will order another today.

My advice for beginner gardeners is this; Love what you do. Love your soil, love your tiny seeds that feed your temple, love the hands that plant those tiny seeds and don't forget to give them water. ;-)

I have found that when you love what you labor over you just cannot go wrong. So, just plant in a raised bed and watch stuff grow!

***Perennial edibles***
Artichokes would seem like a good perennial plant to grow in West Coast regions as well as any fruit or nut tree, I would think.

I grow raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, peaches, cherries and apple on a tiny lot and it is so nice to see these produce in the summer and fall.

Good luck to all with your gardening endeavors!

May 09, 2014
Several "biggest" challenges
by: Enter Your Name

At my age, 64, I want to incorporate as many perennial foods as possible, to cut down labor. We are on a sloping, terraced city lot, and can't fence the front yard from deer, our #2 pest. #1 is SLUGS! I know the solution to all our weeds, sigh. My body doesn't like the solution! Here on the olympic Peninsula, we can garden year round and we really want to grow as much of our own food as possible. I anticipate more and more struggle as we age, with the weeding on sloping ground, but we're committed to this place. I'm thinkin-trade food for labor eventually. We have asparagus, hops vine, perennial kale, fiddleleaf fern, houttinea vine, perpetual spinach,welsh onions,several berries, and a young apple tree. Need more perennial suggestions.

Apr 19, 2014
Beginner
by: Michael King

Sometimes it seems like you have to have 30 years of experience to even think about getting started with edible landscaping. I am 30 years old and this summer is my FIRST time to even try growing tomatoes! All the information out there has so much pretense that I get confused doing the easiest Google searches.

Hi, Michael --

Well, that puts me in trouble, as I don't have 30 years experience in edible landscaping. :)

But you probably should have some experience in basic gardening before you begin something more advanced such as edible landscaping.

Here are some good resources for a beginner:

Square Foot Gardening is what I started with, and I still use this book from time to time. If you can, get the older edition (which is what I linked to), as I feel it has better information.

If you need more of a step by step approach, the Food4Wealth program is excellent, in some ways better than the square foot method. I recently did an interview with the author of that program, if you're interested.

Here's something else you might look at: The 20-30 Something Garden Guide: A No-Fuss, Down and Dirty, Gardening 101 for Anyone Who Wants to Grow Stuff. I met the author of this book a few weeks ago at a workshop. I haven't read the book, but you might like it.

If you have some specific questions, you can always visit my gardening advice page.

I hope that helps!

Patty

Mar 31, 2014
Choices
by: Dave

Where my future garden is or has a slight slope. Do i double dig garden beds in this area or should i use raised beds instead? thanks

Hi, Dave --

I don't double dig anywhere, never have! But if the slope is less than 3 to 1 you should be okay without terracing.

I hope that answers your question, if you have more questions feel free to write again.

Mar 30, 2014
oh, deer
by: PaulaR

My biggest challenge with edible landscaping is that what's edible to humans is often highly desirable to non-humans as well...i've got cottontail rabbits and woodchucks resident on the property and deer who come through to eat as well. I have no interest in killing the animals but they sure make it hard to grow anything that's even slightly succulent. Last summer was so hot and dry, the deer even ate my tomato plants.

Hi, Paula --

I just went to a workshop a couple of weeks ago where Rosalind Creasy spoke. One of the things she said was "deer don't like herbs and they can't climb trees" ... which I guess was her way of telling us what to plant to keep them away. :)

I've never had to deal with deer, but we have a lot of cottontails around here. They don't like to be seen, so if you can get some motion sensor lighting, this might help quite a bit.

Hope this helps!

Patty

Any other ideas for Paula?

Mar 30, 2014
Roots!
by: Mara Seaforest

Our 1909 farmhouse was landscaped years ago with boxwoods, magnolias, native bloomers like rhododendron and mountain laurel -- all happily established and lovely to look at, but they (plus an ancient maple tree that had to come down before it fell on us in our sleep) have given us a yard just jam-packed with roots. Digging more than an inch deep anywhere near the house is almost always futile. I have taken to making raised beds with imported topsoil, compost form the vegetable garden and so on, but to so full-bore on edible landscaping, I'd go broke buying truckloads of topsoil, leafgro/whatever. And then, just below that layer of yummy soil remains the solid block of roots, which limits what I can grow successfully. Root veggies are out, unless containerized. What would you all do?

Oh also, all these great old plantings cast rather a lot of shade from about 1pm onward during the warm months of the year. Challenges galore!

Hi, Mara --

You can still have a great edible yard! I think that a raised bed and container garden would probably be the way to go with this situation, as this would allow you to build up the soil for your plants in the most efficient way.

Anyone have any other ideas?

Feb 04, 2014
Mixed garden
by: Nancy

I am leaning toward a garden of edible annuals and perennials. are there any lists of plant recommendations by zone?

Hi, Nancy --

You don't mention which zone (or country) you're in, but here are some books that I have found helpful:

Charlotte Frieze's Zone Garden series (zones 3, 4, and 5, zones 5, 6, and 7, and zones 8, 9, and 10)

While these are focused on US zones, they would still be helpful for those in other countries.

(you can use my USDA zone converter if you use the RHS, EGF, or Canadian zones in your country)

If you're in zones 1-3, Organic Gardening in Cold Climates is worth getting.

Also, almanac.com has lists of plants for each zone, many of which are edible.

If you'd like me to research this for you, click here to order my plant research service.

Hope that helps!


Jan 17, 2014
Starting out
by: Elliott Morris

I moved into a house with a yard full of weeds and 5 trees. I have planted a few flowers and want to add edibles. I am a newby to gardening since working from 3am until 5 to 8pm for years so I didn't have much time to spend in the yard. I am now trying to catch up by learning good principles of landscaping.

Welcome!

Jan 10, 2014
Edible landscaping
by: Daisy

I would have to say my biggest challenge is weather. It gets really hot and no rain for long periods of time in Texas. Plus maybe not enough knowledge.

Dec 04, 2013
where to start
by: David

Where do I start to grow a more of a sustainable backyard for my family. It is so overwhelming. I don't have the most even flat ground to work with either. I started last year with one raised bed with some containers. Now i am expanding to more of my back yard. I really need a consultation but i want to do the work myself. Plus limited funds pretty expensive for a consultation.

Hi David --

Where to start is a huge question -- and a very common one -- which is why I made my Tasteful Yard Design program.

In that, I show you step by step how to approach garden design starting with you and your family's needs, guiding you all the way through to the finished product, your new yard. You can get started in the program for just $30 if you like.

Much of what I put in there is also available on my website: for example, here's an article on where to begin I did in the newsletter back in 2011.

One of these days I need to put up a page for those just starting out ... but I hope one of those gets you going in the right direction.

Thanks for writing!

Oct 07, 2013
Leaf munchers
by: Sharon Sachdeva

I'm trying to not use pestisides. Any suggestions? I have alot of leaf munchers in my garden. I pick them off when I see them. I wish there was a better way. Thanks, Sharon

Hi,

I've had a lot of leaf damage this year as well. Most of the problems come from caterpillars.

Picking the leaves off is a good way to deal with the issue, as well as removing any caterpillars you find. While bitten leaves don't look very nice, they are just fine to eat as long as you wash them first.

The problem with using pesticides is that they will affect the natural predators of these bugs such as birds, who would normally swoop in to feast on them. If you use pesticides, birds will avoid your yard -- leaving you defenseless and with a worse problem next year.

If you can just hold out until these caterpillars turn into moths and fly away, you should find that you'll have much less problems next year.

Oct 05, 2013
water
by: moi

never enough of it, especially in the hot summer months, although I have installed tanks, run-off gardens and use as much grey water as possible.

Hi,

It sounds like it's time to learn about edible xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is the use of drought resistant plants that use very little water.

Here are a couple of articles that might help:

Edible cacti and succulents

Drought resistant plants (an interview with Certified Horticulturist Jacki Cammidge)

Many of the culinary herbs are very drought tolerant, especially the Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and thyme.

That should get you started in the right direction.

Sep 04, 2013
Drought
by: Susan Grimm

I am just learning the concept of Plant Guilds and am very interested in groups of plants that work well together, and can tolerate dryer conditions.

Aug 07, 2013
just starting
by: Darlene

I've never grown anything before and am a new widow with a large backyard and medium sized front yard. I don't know where to start. I work full time and don't have enough time to spend having a huge garden that needs to be weeded and mowed, etc. I want simplicity, plants that take care of themselves with little effort on my part, and a neat (not wild-looking) design. Any suggestions on what to do first and what to plant?

First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.

It sounds as if you might want to consider hiring someone to design and/or install your yard for you, if you're so short on time. Consult my Edible Landscape Business Showcase to find a local company that specializes in edible landscaping.

If you would like to simply change your existing landscaping to edible plants, I would start with switching your existing shrubs out for edible perennials. You could select the plants then hire someone to do the planting for you.

The ones you choose would of course depend on your soil, location, and so on.

If you need some more specific plant suggestions, feel free to contact me.

Aug 02, 2013
lack of knowledge
by: carol

Not enough knowledge is my problem. Just moved to San Diego County inland and want to be water conscious in my landscaping and have edibles as well.. need to learn about cactus, succulents and other water wise efficient/edibles... :)

Jul 02, 2013
Deer One
by: Bruce

Deer are the biggest challenge outside of the deer fence and racoons on the inside. My pride and joy is the volunteer Avocado tree that came from food compost where I used to grow tomatoes. Not bad for Northern California.

It would also be interesting to find a list of plants that are toxic enough that I should get them out of the garden.

Thanks for all your effort with this community.

You're welcome! (and I'm impressed that you're growing avocados in northern California!)

I've thought about doing a "poisonous plants" list, but since my time and energy is limited I decided to focus on the edible ones first. :)

Toxic plants won't hurt or taint your edible plants at all but they are good to know about if you have small children.

There are lists of poison plants out there, but I would mainly teach your small ones to identify poison oak/ivy/sumac (which is what usually gets them into trouble) and to not eat anything in the garden without permission.

Thanks for writing!

Jun 19, 2013
My garden
by: Margaret

Hi
I am new to this site and edible landscaping and I am disparing over my garden so here is my problem.

I live in Oxfordshire, England. The biggest problem is the weather especially over the last 3-4 years and it isn't getting better. Last year we had draught,then constant rain resulting in no fruit or vegetables. This year we have very had late frosts and snow, some rain, heavy cloud very little sunlight.

I have a very fertile soil which is also a problem because the weeds love it. All I seem to do is weed and getting ready for planting and no further. So I have now decided to accept that the only plants that can cope with this weather and combat the weeds are herbs.

I am hoping to plant herbs for cooking, medical and as I am a weaver and spinner I wish to grow herbs for dyeing but where to begin.

Margaret

Hi, Margaret --

This is such a good question -- went ahead and answered it here.

Also, take a look at my suggestions to Christophe (who lives in Brighton) here.

For specifics on herbs ... most are from the Mediterranean, so not many like wet feet and little sun. Parsley is one exception; watercress is another that will do okay in this sort of situation.

If you'd like me to do a detailed search for you, I now offer edible plant research services.

Jun 17, 2013
zone 2-3 challenges
by: Northern_Pooka

I live in a rural area in Northwestern Ontario, zone 2-3. We have a short growing season, cold winters and hot dry summers. I have clay soil and limited water for irrigation, we have a well. I have a wooded area so a good source of shade to combination shade and open area's with extreme seasonal heat and cold exposure.

A big challenge sourcing seeds or roots to start some of the plants I wish to start.

Hello!

I did a search over at Dave's Garden for growers in Ontario, Canada and got this list.

I hope that helps! When you find a company that you like the looks of, make sure to check it in the Dave's Garden Watchdog guide to see how others have rated it.

Jun 05, 2013
Fall Gardening
by: Sharon Sachdeva

I'd like to plan a fall garden. I checked the Almanac and our last frost is Oct. 31. (Richmond Va.) What veggies and fruits would be most succussful? Thanks.

FYI I have a large garden mainly flowers. I'd like to add more edibles. I'd say edibles are about 5% of my garden. Whew I have a long way to go.

Hi, Sharon --

That's really a question for your local/county extension office. Most of them have websites through your closest agricultural college or university. Just search for "(your county) extension" and you should be able to find it there.

The county extension is a wonderful resource -- they are volunteers (often the Master Gardener program works through them as well) who can test your soil, give you help with choosing plants, and offer tips for growing issues in your particular area.

If you'd like specific plant or design ideas for your garden and don't want to do the research yourself, I also offer detailed garden help here.

Jun 02, 2013
Greetings from Crown Point, Indiana
by: Lauren Byers

Hello Patricia,
I just joined your site and couldn't be more excited, there is a wealth of knowledge here! I have a few issues my fiancé and I are first time homeowners and only on my third year of gardening! So besides an obvious lack of knowledge and experience we live on a corner lot, my flower beds are on three sides of the house so I deal with varying sun and shade exposure.
I am interested in gardening with as many edibles as possible and maintaining my garden as organically and humanely as possible. Any tips are welcome but right now I am focusing on an L shaped flower bed with basically full shade, what are your recommendations for plants to start with?
Thank you and best wishes from Crown Point Indiana,
Lauren

Hi, Lauren --

Try taking a look at my shade gardens page.

If you're still having trouble, come by and schedule a consultation. :)

May 29, 2013
'THE IDEAL FRONTYARD'
by: SANDI

I HAVE A LARGE FRONT LAWN THAT SLOPS DOWN TO THE STREET. MY CHALLENGE I WANT AN ATTRACTIVE 'HARDSCAPE DESIGN' AND AN EDIBLE GARDEN. I HAVE BEEN PONDERING THIS FOR A FEW YRS, LOOKING AT EVERY DESIGN BOOK, ARTICLES IN MAGAZINES, COMPUTER PHOTO'S ETC.

ONCE I HAVE THE IDEA..I WILL NEED TO INVEST $$ TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. THAT WILL INVOLVE TEARING OUT THE LAWN, REDOING THE SPRINKLERS..ETC.

ANYWAY, YOU GET THE IDEA..I NEED A 'DESIGN' FIRST!

I ALREADY HAVE A HUGE GARDEN IN THE BACK YARD, BUT IT GETS A LOT OF SHADE, THE FRONT YARD HAS SUN ALL DAY!! THANKS FOR LETTING ME SHARE, SANDI

Hi, Sandi --

I have a few resources that might help:

If you'd like to hire an edible landscape designer to do your yard, you can consult the Edible Landscape Business Showcase and see if there is a designer that specializes in edible landscaping near you.

If you would rather do the design yourself, I've published a workbook that might help called "How to make your own garden landscape design plans"

And if you have some ideas and want to run them by me, need advice on specific plants or their placement, need help after you go through the workbook, or need any other detailed help specific to your area, I'd be happy to set up an edible garden consultation.

I hope these help. The most important thing is to have fun with it! Design a yard that works for you and your family. :)

May 20, 2013
two areas of concern for me
by: Theresa

There are two areas that most interest me regarding edible landscaping. 1) I live in southern Arizona and trying to time plantings is difficult. I have several locally produced timetables and none are very accurate from what I can tell. So strategies for growing edibles at the mid elevation Sonoran desert is one area. 2) As a landscape designer, I will end up sooner or later having to deal with HOA's against edible front yards. I would like strategies and case studies on how to deal with them. Thanks, Theresa

Hi, Theresa --

Since I don't live in the Sonoran desert, it's difficult for me to help with that ... maybe someone here who lives there can help. Or if you'd like me to research this for you, my research rates are here. :)

For your second issue: I've written a couple of articles on this already, which you can find over at the "Articles" page.

Thanks for writing!

May 07, 2013
Cold weather growing tips
by: Anthony Arcuri

Living in a cold weathered climate has been the most difficult growing hurdle thus far.

Blackberry growing tips is what brought me here, but super useful for everything else. Thank you!

Hi, Anthony --

I'm so glad you like the site. My page on protecting plants from frost might be helpful to you.

And if you run across something that I haven't thought of in that regard -- maybe something your neighbors are doing to keep their plants alive -- please let us know about it. We're all here to help each other succeed. :)

May 01, 2013
knowledge
by: kajagreenberg

I think knowledge of which plants complement each other is one of my main problems. Other than that, I love this idea.

Now that's something I can help with! :)

There's a great series by Louise Riotte about companion planting:

Carrots Love Tomatoes

Roses Love Garlic

Have fun!

Apr 28, 2013
My biggest obstacles
by: Ty Davis

My two biggest obstacles are 1) I live in a desert region and 2) I don't have as much time as I need to out in the work.

My answer: Time! Now I think that's a challenge we all face. :)

As far as living in a desert, these articles might help:

Edible cacti and succulents

Drought resistant plants (interview)


Apr 27, 2013
challenges
by: Anonymous

My biggest challenges are lack of space. I'm in really close quarters with neighbors. I also lack sun. I have just a little space for sun loving plants.

Hi --

Take a look at my Tasteful Landscape article on small yards and my page on shade gardens.

Depending on your climate, your yard might be just as productive as any other. You just have to choose your plants wisely.

Thanks for writing!

Apr 24, 2013
Moving Challenge
by: Kaitlyn

I am so excited to have edible landscaping, it makes so much sense rather than just having useless flowers and grass. Having flowers that are beautiful and you can eat, etc, such a logical idea.

My biggest challenge right now is that we are trying to sell our house, so I struggle with starting to... Dig up, make changes, plant stuff that we want, when we could either sell the place mid-changes and they'll want us to finish it all as a condition of the sale, or sell it after we've planted and we have to leave our newly planted food behind!

Plus having to consider "curb appeal", to us the idea of rotatiling up the lawn and planting thyme or something would be smart and really beautiful, but to potential buyers... I'm not sure they'd be impressed by the lack of normal (useless) grass.
So those kind of things are making the "jumping right in" a bit more difficult.

My answer: Moving is really difficult. I don't know what your area's housing market is like, so it's hard to give any advice to you in this matter because I don't know how long it will take you to sell your home.

I would suggest having an honest talk with your real estate agent about this issue and get his/her advice before doing anything to your yard right now. Focus on planning your gardens at your next home.

Mar 23, 2013
Shared Bounty with other creatures
by: James Uzcategui

i WANT TO DESIGN AND GROW AN EDIBLE LANDSCAPE BUT WOULD LIKE TO GROW PLANTS FOR THE MANY ANIMALS IN MY AREA. WHAT CAN YOU SUGGEST?

My answer: Gardening to attract wildlife is a bit beyond the scope of this site, but I think your concern for the animals around you is really commendable.

Look at the native plants in your area, and at the animals around you and what they eat. That will help you make a list of things to grow.

If you look up "wildlife gardens" or something similar, and search through a few pages of the results, you should be able to find a lot of tips for setting up a garden of this kind.

Thanks so much for writing.

Feb 13, 2013
MANPOWER
by: Mr Azlan The Landlord

My biggest challenge is manpower. There is only so much I can do myself. One of my tenants serves as my gardener from 1700 hrs to dusk (about 1930 hrs) during his workdays and a full day during his off days. There is so much to do; backbreaking stuff like hauling soil, cutting trees, digging holes, pruning branches, cutting bamboo poles, sweeping leaves, grass-cutting. I've got most of the tools; even bought a chainsaw but I need volunteers to help out. In return I am willing to share my knowledge and give free meals.

I wonder if anybody has any experience in getting volunteers to help out. I have a 3-acre site and its more than what one person can handle at this stage. Once I've got the hügelkultur beds done, it'll be on autopilot...

Hi, Mr. Azlan --

You might contact WWOOF, which is an organization that matches young people who want to learn organic gardening and farming methods with people who need help.

Let us know how it goes!

Feb 12, 2013
herb beds
by: Anonymous

Sorry - hope I am not sending this twice- made 4'x 16' raised beds this past fall- filled with soil/sand/straw and goat manure- hoping to have a beautiful herb garden- need to know what and what not to do. Thanks.

Hi --

It really depends on what herbs you've planted. Most herbs come from around the Mediterranean and don't like a lot of watering, but herbs like parsley need even and regular watering to look their best.

Other than that, most herbs are pretty easy to care for and don't need much care.

If you have a question about a particular herb, let me know. :)

Jan 08, 2013
My Biggest Challenge for an Edible Landscape
by: Anonymous

My challenge is to start from scratch, literally. I am building a new house with a small piece of property and as I look at the yard, it is all mud. I need to think not only how to prepare the soil, but how to design the yard, and then see what Fairfax County will allow me to plant. For instance, they want me to add three large trees that may provide too much shade for things I may want to grow (e.g., vegetables) and they want me to plant grass. So I ask myself, can I substitute any ground cover (like clover or thyme)instead--do I start with clover to get the soil in shape and then move on to other plants? If so, how do I deal with the county? So for me, step one is to decide what I would like to grow, what hardscape I want eventually, etc. It's overwhelming, but I know that I need to break the process down into sections and then assume it will take a few seasons to complete, knowing that the garden will grow and change.

I'm excited about the possibilities.

This does sound exciting!

If you have to plant trees and don't want them to shade your property, try planting them on the north side of your lot (away from your neighbors unless they want their lot shaded!). Or else you can take a look at my shade gardens page for some plant ideas.

What exactly do they say as far as the lawn? Does it have to be grass, or can you use something like creeping thyme?

I suppose if you really do have to have grass you could plant wheatgrass! It's very pretty, edible, and you could let a corner grow up to make a nice edible display in time for fall. If you have a small area, you could even clip it by hand and have some nice wheatgrass juice, which is very good for you.

I don't know what state/country Fairfax county is in so I hope my suggestions aren't too far off.

Good luck!

Dec 31, 2012
ground zero
by: Kristin

I hate front lawns. We have an enormous corner lot front lawn, close to a quarter acre of wasteful grass. It is completely flat, no dimension at all. It is riddled with gopher holes.

The most frustrating thing is that I have ZERO in my landscaping budget. We are so tight financially, I fear my dreams for a productive, edible landscape is far fetched. Furthermore, I feel pressure because it might offend neighbors or be the eyesore on a street full of professionally landscaped, high maintenance, manicured lawns. I am trying to learn all I can and then will try bit at a time to do what I can. Thanks for the resource your site it!

Hi Kristin --

Planning makes the difference between a yard that works and one that doesn't. Take some time and look at yards that are put together and ones that look bad. Think about what makes each one appealing (or not appealing) to you. My garden layouts page has some tips on how to get started.

You do not have to have a huge budget to do your own edible landscaping.

Consider starting small, once you get your yard planned. Wood, brick and other items can often be found near construction sites (ask first!) and painted and sanded if necessary. Cuttings, plants and seeds from friends, even seeds from fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store can be the start of your edible garden.

But first I would think about ways to save some money for when you do need to buy something. If you even can save a dollar a week, that can go into a fund for your yard.

You can do it!

Oct 19, 2012
Our Biggest Challenges
by: Beth

Too little knowledge, time, energy, money.
We are a retired couple, 64 and 69, on pensions. I have some health challenges that limit what I can do physically. We bought this property a year ago, a 6.5 acre farm in North Central Texas. I want to do edible landscaping and people say we've done a good job so far. I need to learn more, get some help with the heavier jobs and bring in some funding. In the meantime we have found a solution in terms of Soil Amendment (Bio Wash) but we need help with pests, planning and hope to get some of that from this site.

Thanks for sharing! And congratulations on the new farm.

What kind of pests are you having trouble with?

Sep 24, 2012
Easy Edible Landscaping with a humorous touch!
by: Rose

My biggest challenge with edible landscaping would be probably I need more helpful information on how to grow a good plant or perhaps your suggestions on the better types of plants to grow that are more hardly and easier to grow.

I like growing tomatoes, basil, peppers but would like to expand to other vegetables. I have a great sense of humor so I like a funny quirk in my garden too :)

Glad you're here! Let me know if you can't find what you need.

(You might like my garden humor page ...)

Aug 12, 2012
Biggest Challenge right now...
by: Loye

I will be purchasing my first home soon. So, my biggest challenge is planning my edible landscaping. I want to plant only edible items. I am starting with researching edible plants and then which are most appropriate for my region, coastal virginia.

My answer: Welcome! Planning your edible landscaping can be a big challenge. These publications might help --

Fruits and Vegetables (from the Virginia Cooperative Extension)

Plants Reported To Grow Well Around Virginia Beach (from Dave's Garden)

An excellent list of plants (PDF) that tolerate wind, salt, and sun combinations, from San Marcos Growers (in Santa Barbara, CA). Note that the "zones" they refer to are not the USDA planting zones.

Of course, I hope you'll consider my workbook, How to make your own garden landscape design plans.

Hope this helps!




Aug 02, 2012
pine trees
by: Peggy

My Houston front yard has many mature pine trees (filtered shade) and lots of roots, and thin St. Augustine; packed soil. I've managed to utilize the pine straw as mulch on my flowerbeds, but now I'd like to enlarge the beds and incorporate some edible plants, i.e., less to mow. There is no budget for landscaping so I'm composting, but that still takes time. Any suggestions on edibles that can thrive in partial shade and acidic soil? What could I amend soil with to offset the acid from pine needles?

My answer: Take a look at my edible shade gardens page.

As far as amending, compost is the best bet. Compost helps neutralize pH and lends nutrients to the soil that might be lacking. You can also use lime (calcium carbonate) to raise the soil pH too. That said, why not use acid-loving edibles?

Thanks for writing!

Jul 26, 2012
pests
by: Kathrin

My biggest challenge in my SOCal garden are pests: insects that devour all of my vegetables and grapes more or less over night. Trying to stay organic I have so far only used different kinds of insecticidal soaps and oils ... to no avail. Help?

My answer: It would really help if you could tell me which insects you're talking about. Thanks!

Mar 01, 2012
My soil is terrible
by: Mindi

We have clay soil and it barely even grows weeds. So any time I want to add anything to my yard it takes a lot of amending.

It's going slow because I can only get so many bags of manure in my car at any one time and my compost bin hasn't made much yet. But it's coming along.

My answer: It sounds like you're in the same position I am ... keep working at it, you'll see steady improvement if you don't quit.

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