How to Design Your Edible Landscape Like a Professional

The most common question I'm asked is where to plant something in someone's yard.  I love and dread this question because choosing a location for one plant is challenging.  What seems to be a simple question turns into a lengthy discussion with me asking way more questions in return.  I can usually come up with a good location based on the information I've gleaned from our conversation, but what I really want is to encourage people to look at their yard with a bigger vision. 

With a vision, there is a reason why each and every plant is placed in a location.  Everything is laid out in the landscape to create a functional space that is easy to maintain, looks amazing, and produces a harvest.

Today I'm going to share with you a quick step-by-step outline to start creating an overall vision for your outdoor space, so that you're not left wondering where to plant something you randomly picked up at your local nursery (and yes, I've been guilty of impulse plant purchase, too).  


1 - Measure 

Grab a pencil, paper, measuring tape, and a friend, then head outside.  Measure the entire space that you will be designing.  Depending on your situation, you might be measuring from property line to property and everything in between (this is a good technique for town and city lots) or just measuring a specific area (this is a good idea for very large lots where you will only be designing near your house or another specific location).


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2 - Map

Using a ruler, pencil, and large piece of paper, start drawing your map to scale.  Find your longest height and width measurements and determine how you can make those distances fit on your paper.  You may need to do a little math and use a 1/2" - 1', 1/4 = 1', or 1/8 = 1' scale.  Simply divide your longest distances by 2, 4, or 8 to determine how many inches they will be on your paper.  Once you figure out your scale, use that same math to mark and map out the rest of your design.


3 - Bubbles

Now comes the fun part!  The next step is to create bubbles of space to represent the various areas you'd like in your garden, specifically the open spaces.  Once the open spaces are defined and your bubble lines are finalized, you can start to fill in the other details of your design.  


4 - Concept

Once your open spaces are defined, you can now start plugging in the other pieces of your design.  Make a list of everything you'd like to include in your design.  Some ideas are: compost bins, veggie garden, play area, fire pit, outdoor dining or kitchen area, cutting garden, etc.  Grab some scraps of paper or sticky notes and write each idea on a separate piece of paper.  Lay the pieces of paper onto your design and move them around until you find a layout that works well for you.  Make sure to keep the things you use most closest to your house.  

Finish this step by drawing your ideas onto your map.  In this step, you can also add appropriately sized circles to represent trees and shrubs in your design. Also leave blobs of space for any perennials or veggies you will add later.


5 - Plants

Now that you have your basic design mapped out, it's time to decide which plants will go where.  Brainstorm some plant ideas that you'd like to include in your edible garden.  Which fruit does your family love most?  Can you grow that in your area?  Make sure to research which fruiting plants need a cross-pollinator and plan accordingly.