Have you been thinking about making changes to your landscape but can’t decide when to actually sit down and create a design? Well, if you’ve been asking yourself, “When is the best time to design my edible landscape?”, I have a short and sweet answer for you. Now.
“Now? Really? But it’s ___________ (fill in the blank) fall / winter / spring / summer!”
My answer is still the same. The best time is now.
Ok, pretty general advice, right? I know. Perhaps you were hoping for some specific date so that you could write it on your calendar then just forget about it for now.
The reason I say that the best time is now, is because edible landscapes take time to produce a harvest for you. The sooner you design and plant your edible landscape, the sooner you will benefit from an abundant harvest. The sooner you get a harvest, the sooner you can start saving on your grocery bills, eating super fresh food from your own yard, and spending more quality time outside with your family and friends. Finally, the sooner you create a professional quality design for your space, the more time and money you’ll save on failed projects, the more energy you’ll save moving improperly placed plants, and the more frustration you’ll avoid by having a solid plan in place.
For those who want a more specific answer than “now”, I do have more to say about the subject. Let’s go through the pros and cons of designing your garden in each season:
I’m writing this blog post in fall. It’s October in Wisconsin and the weather changes daily from sunny and beautiful to snow dusted roofs. In my opinion, fall is a excellent time to create your edible landscape design. Why?
The bulk of outside gardening work is done
Unless you just moved, you will have an idea of what’s already growing in your garden / landscape (since summer just ended)
There’s plenty of indoor time in your future and designing your edible landscape is primarily an indoor task
Creating a really amazing design can take a few months, which will keep you occupied in the winter
Your design will be ready in time to plant in spring
There aren’t too many drawbacks of designing your landscape in fall. The two main drawbacks that come to mind are: 1 - You might have to wait for a dry or warm day to measure your site. 2 - Plant ID is a little more difficult once the leaves fall (this might only be an issue if you don’t already know what plants are in your landscape).
Designing your landscape in winter has the same benefits as fall. (See the bullet point list above.) Overall, winter is an excellent time to design your own landscape. The drawbacks are similar to fall, although measuring in winter can be bitterly cold, depending on where you live. Luckily, taking measurements is a quick and easy step in the design process, so after you bundle up and take your measurements, you’ll have plenty of design work to do inside afterwards. The other drawback is plant ID, which can be even more difficult in winter. This is especially true if the leaves have been raked and removed, so you don’t have that extra clue to lean on.
There is often a renewed excitement for gardening in the spring. The cold winter has past and many people are excited to get outside and start digging in the soil. Spring can be a good time to design your own edible landscape for several reasons:
Excitement around warm weather and gardening = motivation to get your design done
Weather is more pleasant for measuring your site
You’re able to see what plants are coming up (this is helpful if you moved recently or didn’t notice what was growing last summer)
You can start to see the changing sunlight patterns in your yard so that you can better identify where your sunny locations will be in the summer
Although spring can be a good time to design your own edible landscape, it’s also a busy time in the garden. If you already have a garden established, your spring cleanup, spring planting, and design project might be fighting for your time. Another drawback is that by the time you finish your design, it may be too late to plant in the spring. You may need to plant new trees and shrubs in the fall instead.
Summer is often a busy time. There are vacations, picnics, kids on school break, gardens to tend to, and tons of outdoor activities to do. That being said, if your summer isn’t booked solid, this is actually a pretty good time to design your own edible landscape. Here are a few reasons why:
Everything is growing, so you can identify the existing plants in your space
The weather is lovely so you can spend a lot of time outside observing your space and thinking about how you might want to use it
The weather is perfect for measuring your site
If the weather is unbearably hot and you have air conditioning, your design project will give you an excuse to stay cool indoors
Your design could be ready in time for fall planting
If you already have a veggie or herb garden, these won’t need as much attention in the summer months as they do in the spring, so you’ll have more time to focus on your design project
You can observe the sunlight patterns and know exactly where you’ll get the most sunlight in the summer
The drawbacks of designing your edible landscape in summer are: spending time inside drawing and planning rather than outside in the fresh air, and summers can be busy so adding a design project to your schedule may not be possible.
If you’re still looking for a concrete answer as to when you should design your edible landscape and “now” doesn’t feel like the right time, I would rank the seasons in this order, from the best to least desirable times: fall, winter, summer, spring.
Overall, the main point I want to stress is that it doesn’t really matter when you design your edible landscape, it matters more that you actually create a design for your space.
As an edible landscape designer for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to help tons of homeowners with their design challenges. Over the years, I’ve seen the same types of problems and questions come up over and over again. ALL of your questions and design issues can be solved with a professional quality edible landscape design (and you can even do this yourself!). Below are some of the many benefits of creating a design for your space.
What are the benefits of designing your own edible landscape?
CUSTOMIZED FOR YOUR UNIQUE SPACE
The first steps to creating your own professional-quality edible landscape design are to measure and observe your space. The next step is to determine your needs. A great edible landscape design is based 100% on these initial steps, so that your design is created specifically for you and your unique space.
By using professional design techniques, you will create a functional design. This will save you tons of time maintaining your garden so that you have more time for fun and relaxation.
Designed well, a fully stocked edible landscape can actually be low maintenance. (Picture a gorgeous fruit tree and berry bush border that produces tons of fruit without much help from you!)
Designing your edible landscape first (as in, before you start planting willy-nilly) helps avoid costly and time consuming mistakes. Plus, save money on your grocery bill as soon as you get a harvest.
An edible garden doesn't have to be straight rows of plants. Instead, picture the most beautiful garden you've ever seen... and now imagine that in your yard but completely packed with edible plants. Dreamy, huh?
By learning professional design skills, you will be empowered to create the edible landscape of your dreams. You will have an absolutely unique garden that is productive, dynamic, organized, health-giving, head-turning, peaceful, and most of all completely yours - from the design you create on paper, to your beautiful outdoor space.
I’d love to hear from you! Now that you know more about when to create a design and why designs are beneficial, what’s your plan? When will you start creating the edible landscape design of your dreams?