Lawns take up three times as much space as cornfields in the U.S., according to a study from NASA. All that real estate, plus the water and fertilizer required to maintain pristine yards, means that Americans spend a massive amount of resources on a “crop” that no one eats.
Over the past decade, “edible landscapes” have grown in popularity as some designers and homeowners are looking to transform “sterile lawns” into spaces that are both beautiful and productive. These re-imagined landscapes can range from small raised beds to full-yard takeovers, and they often include native perennials, fruit trees, herbs, and other food-producing plants.
It has been said that edible landscapes can have many benefits including producing fresh food for your family and community, increasing biodiversity, saving natural resources, and using less fertilizer.
Companies that offer edible landscaping often provide design, installation and maintenance services, plus many offer workshops or one-on-one mentoring so you can learn how to care for your new yard. These organizations often work with homeowners associations to make sure lawns are both productive and aesthetically pleasing.
If you’re interested in creating your own edible landscape, here are some of the best plants to consider:
· Perennial herbs: Try sage, lavender, rosemary, oregano, mint, or thyme, which tend to attract fewer animals than annuals and biennials such as parsley, basil and cilantro.
· Peppers and beans: Animals are most interested in the leaves of these plants, and taking a few precautions can limit any damage to the produce itself.
· Edible flowers: While a fun, surprising addition to any salad, make sure you’re careful about what products you use to feed and spray your edible flowers.
· Eggplant and artichokes: These are both beautiful and nutritious additions to your landscape and most animals will leave them alone thanks to their prickly leaves.
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