Vibrant flowers nestled among fresh herbs and crisp lettuce leaves all beautifully arranged before making their way from the garden to plate – this is the concept of edible landscaping, a method of gardening that is as much about aesthetics as it is about functionality and sustainability.
How fast we consume resources and generate waste is one of society’s main focuses at the moment.
As the movement towards being more eco-friendly flourishes, people are learning that their day-to-day lifestyle choices make a significant impact on the environment.
Most of these small changes can be made at home in ways such as recycling waste, composting and being more eco-aware when it comes to your gardening.
How often do we dedicate a Sunday morning to trimming hedges, mowing lawns and watering useless landscape shrubs when edible plants are just as attractive, produce fresh crops, and require only slightly more maintenance?
Statistics published by Lowes reveal that, on a hot day, which is common during the sweltering summers in sunny South Africa, the average lawn can use 473 litres of water per 93 square metres.
The same lawn on a cool, cloudy day uses as little as 37 litres of water. While your biggest concern may be expenses, when you waste water or overuse household water, you're actually also squandering the energy-intensive purification process.
According to Stanford Mag: “The food industry is a major player in such environmental issues as deforestation, land-use change, water wastage and excess fertiliser run-off. And that's to say nothing of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture, shipping, and food processing and storage.”
Additionally, plastic bags, styrofoam trays, cardboard boxes and other use-once forms of packaging that will likely end up clogging landfills grow with every grocery haul. As a personal benefit, you’ll shave off a good fraction of your monthly grocery bill too.
But won’t we be missing out on the beauty of an aesthetic garden? As cheerful as sunflowers or trailing succulents may be, it’s important to choose plants that are not only visually appealing but also attract pollinating insects, are wildlife-friendly and consumable.
Without converting your entire garden into a plantation of fruit and vegetables, edible landscaping is a gentle nudge in the direction of subsistence farming that blends conventional planting with row cropping techniques (planting in rows with spaces in between) to produce a visually appealing and environmentally beneficial landscape. The overall effect is rustic, like something out of a storybook set in the countryside.
An edible garden is a perfect opportunity to rethink your layout. The trick is to not overpopulate your garden with too many pointless plants. Instead, pair crops and other pretty plants together that are good growing companions.
All vegetables and fruit plants produce flowers, so with this method of planting, you’ll achieve the goal of getting the most out of your space visually and in a functional manner. No area of your garden will be wasted with dead spots that offer nothing but suck up resources.
This was originally published on IOL.