How to Plant and Maintain an Edible Produce Garden In Your Backyard
The Pacific Northwest presents ample opportunity for homeowners to customize their backyard edible produce gardens. In fact, Oregon is known as the ideal climate for fruits like tomatoes and apples, and vegetables like squash, zucchini, green beans, and peas.
We love the ingenuity and creativity in landscape and garden design we see from yard to yard throughout the communities we serve. Over the years our crews and designers at Landscape East & West have seen trends come and go, but one trend we are always happy to see is foodscaping. Below are some tips for foodscaping, including sustainable garden practices in Oregon, organic gardening, and how to care for your edible plants.
What is Foodscaping, and How to Get Started Planting an Edible Produce Garden
Foodscaping, also known as edible landscaping, is more than just building a raised bed or adding a vegetable garden in the corner of your yard. It is a type of landscaping that integrates edible plants, fruits, and vegetables within and throughout an overall design. Just like any other landscape design, a foodscape may include raised beds and containers, trellises and arbors, pathways, and other hardscapes, as well as shrubs, trees, vines, grasses, and ground covers.
And while edible plants are the key component to a foodscape, plant selection is still driven by interest, color, and texture, but with the added caveat of taste and potential harvest.
Things to Consider in Your Edible Landscape
If you are thinking about turning your yard into a foodscape, or if you simply want to convert a portion of your yard to an edible garden or raised vegetable bed, there are key elements to address to ensure a thriving garden.
Plan a layout of your edible produce garden that’s easy to maintain – with the full adult size of the plants in mind. Keep in mind that, at minimum, your produce plants need 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. Also, remember to space the rows of your plants far enough apart so that as they grow they aren’t competing for space. Companion planting principles should also be considered to conserve water. Check with an expert if irrigation of your garden is possible in the desired location.
Improving soil quality in your garden – We cannot overstress the importance soil has on plant health – especially fruits and vegetables. You want nutrient-rich soil that will feed your plants and allow them to flourish. The prevailing soil type in most yards locally, however, is dense heavy clay, which is not ideal for growing edibles. The good news is soil can easily be amended with compost, lime, manure, and other additives. Not sure what your soil needs? We have experts on staff who can conduct a soil test, and advise you on your soil’s needs such as treating the soil with organic matter, adjusting the soil’s pH, mulching, and more.
How to understand plant size and spacing of plants – When planning your foodscape, as with any landscape, you need to consider all the requirements a specific plant has to grow and thrive. Size is a major consideration. How much space will your mature plantings need when they are full-grown? It is often more than you think!
How to know how much sunlight a plant needs – As mentioned above, a minimum of six hours of sunlight is a good rule of thumb for full-sun plants, which is also typical for many types of fruits and vegetables. But not all fruits and vegetables need full sun, and some will actually thrive better in partial sun. So be mindful of plant selection and placement and don’t feel limited to just the sunniest patches of your yard.
How Much Water is Too Much, or Not Enough for Your Foodscape?
The amount of water you give your fruits and vegetables will not only affect the bounty of harvest but can drastically affect the taste. Not all edibles have the same requirements, so be aware of the specific needs of each plant and water accordingly. How you water can make a difference too. We especially like incorporating drip lines to deliver water exactly where it is needed to minimize waste and promote better overall plant health.
Irrigation is one of our specialties, so give us a call if you need help with installing a new or expanding an existing system. Not ready for professional services? We have plenty of garden watering tips in our Learning Center.
Top Organic and Environmentally Friendly Pest Control Techniques
The bane of any gardener is unwanted pests. Luckily, there are plenty of products and solutions to help ward off unwelcome guests in your yard.
Organic chemicals and pet-friendly oils for your edible garden
Organic pesticides, horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, iron phosphate (for slugs and snails), and neem oil are natural solutions that are also safe for pets. Keep in mind the type of pest and the plant itself as each product works differently.
Beneficial insects that feast on pest bugs
Believe it or not, there are plenty of beneficial insects that go to war against pests. For centuries, gardeners have used ladybugs as effective predators that eradicate aphids and other plant-destroying bugs.
Physical barriers to protect edible garden boxes and plants
Physical barriers, such as row covers, netting, or screens, can be used to prevent pests from accessing your plants. This can be particularly effective for protecting crops from flying insects or birds. Physical barriers aren’t just wood and netting, however. Sophisticated designs can be built into your yard space that protects against pests while looking like a natural part of your garden’s design.
Talk shop about pest control with our expert landscapers and gardeners
Our crews are well-versed in pest control options, as well as proper fertilization, and can help answer your questions. We even offer landscape maintenance programs with seasonal fertilizer and pesticide applications, pruning, and irrigation tune-ups.
Need a little inspiration? We can help you plan and design your garden. Here are some of the foodscapes and edible gardens we’ve helped install and maintain over the years:
Ready for More than Just an Edible Produce Garden in Your Backyard?
We would love to discuss your garden and yard landscaping plans – we’re here to help! We can elaborate on any of the topics above, and we can send a project manager out to review your property. Turn your outdoor spaces into the living areas you’ve always wanted. Call us at (503) 256-5302 or get in touch online and let’s get started on your project today!