Are you looking for a landscape design solution that will create privacy, increase your food production, provide wildlife habitat, and add beauty to your yard? Then, how about planting an edible hedgerow?
Wait, what’s a hedgerow?
A hedgerow is simply a hedge of trees and/or shrubs that often borders a road, property line, or fence. Historically, hedgerows have been used for windbreaks, growing food, timber, and basket-making materials, and living fences. These are all great functions that be woven into your home’s edible landscape.
Today I’m going to tell you the steps for designing an edible hedgerow for your home garden or homestead. I’ll also talk about how you can weave the traditional uses of hedgerows into your design.
Like any edible landscape project, my very first and most important recommendation is to create a design for your entire space before planting anything. Why? Well, as an edible landscape designer for many years, I’ve seen so many DIY edible gardeners struggle with common challenges. This almost always happened because they planted their edible landscape without a plan. As a result, they made tons of mistakes that caused unnecessary frustration and cost them precious time, money, and resources. Read more about the importance of designs here.
Once you’ve started your edible landscape design project, you will be able to see where your edible hedgerow should go, determine what purpose(s) it will serve, and what problems it will solve. These are all key to designing an edible hedgerow (and edible landscape) that will work best for you and your unique space.
Here are some benefits of an edible hedgerow in your home landscape:
reducing rainwater runoff (slowing runoff and encouraging rainwater to soak back into the ground)
increased food production
low maintenance (perennial) food production
sun trap (a U-shaped hedgerow that opens to the south in the Northern Hemisphere / north in the Southern Hemisphere) will create a pocket of warmth that will benefit other crops
grow your own gardening materials, like branches for plant stakes, trellises, etc.
leaves for mulching and composting
basket weaving materials
What other benefits might you get from an edible hedgerow in your home garden?
Designing your own edible hedgerow can be a fun part of your overall edible landscape design process. Now that you know some of the many benefits of edible hedgerows (other than food production), which ones will you take advantage of in your hedgerow?
Tips for creating your edible hedgerow design:
Begin by creating an edible landscape design for your entire space. This will ensure that you choose the best location possible for your edible hedgerow and that your edible landscape will be super functional, low maintenance, flow really well, and meet all your needs. Need some help with this? Check out my free intro design course here.
Once you have all of the spaces defined in your edible landscape, you can start adding details to your edible hedgerow.
Think about what your edible hedgerow needs to accomplish, other than food production. Do you want to create a living fence to deter people or animals? Do you want it to provide privacy? How much privacy? Do you want it to slow rainwater runoff? Make a list of all of your edible hedgerow goals.
If anything from your list in step 3 is specific to an exact location in your edible hedgerow, mark it on your design.
Then add placeholders for your trees first, your shrubs next, and finally anything else that will share that space, such as a chicken coop and run, compost bins, etc.
Now it’s time to choose plants! Look back over your list from step 3. Choose plants for your plant placeholders that help meet the goals of your edible hedgerow. For example, maybe you could add some gooseberries (they have sharp thorns!) if you’re trying to deter people or animals from coming onto your property. Or maybe you really want privacy so you should look for dense-growing, berry producing shrubs that are about 6-10’ tall. Perhaps you desire basket making materials, so you could do some research about which plants are commonly used for basket making.
If you’d like some more ideas about how to design your own edible hedgerow, grab this free 7-page edible hedgerow download. It includes a sample edible hedgerow design, plant list with trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and groundcovers, and basic instructions for designing your own edible hedgerow.
I’d love to hear from you! Add your comments and questions below or tell us all about your edible hedgerow! What problems does it solve? What plants produce the best harvests? How has it changed your relationship with your outdoor space?