Christian's Tips for Designing a Beautiful Edible Landscape
Q: One of the things we love about all of your designs is how you seamlessly integrate edible plants and herbs into the perennial plantings. Do you have any design tips to help our readers accomplish this feeling of abundance in their gardens?
Designing an edible landscape is like designing any other kind of landscape. You're thinking about your foundational plants, trees, groundcovers, and you're thinking more broadly about the virtues of a lot of fruiting species that achieve the same goals. So think about strawberries as groundcovers, blueberries as bold foundational shrubs, artichokes as statement plants. Tree species like avocados can be used instead of magnolia or dogwood, for instance, when you need a strong structural tree.
It's a case of stopping and thinking if there is an edible plant that could achieve the same thing in your landscape, and normally the answer is absolutely there is. So it's a matter of choice and changing perspective, and having a go at it— which is so much of design, anyway.
Also, consider your landscape as a source for both human food, and animal food and habitat. There are so many plants that provide nectar, seeds, berries, and habitat for pollinators and wildlife that can be used in the landscape to achieve beauty.
Q: We’ve seen another property design of yours with a kitchen garden near the pool. Tell us more about why the pool area lends itself well to a kitchen garden.
Edible plants, just like many other plants, are vying for that full-sun, open-sky spot. Most designers put that main open-dining, recreation space next to the pool and place the kitchen garden at the back of the house because there's a misconception that they are messy and unsightly, and we keep debunking that.
We make it work by making sure the boxes are far enough away from the pool that they don't get splashed too much. The pool is an area where people are spending the majority of their time, especially during peak growing season. Putting the kitchen garden near the pool makes more sense to me because the closer in proximity to your food, the more accomplished you become at growing it, and the more you tend to harvest it because you are seeing it every day. This is the thoroughfare of the property, so it makes sense to put the kitchen garden here.