Backyard garden design doesn’t have to be boring. Everyone thinks of a lawn and some flower beds with shrubs around the house and maybe a tree or two.
But what if you planted fruit trees and shrubs instead of the usual dogwood and evergreens? What then?
Backyard Garden Design Ideas – Adding Fruit Producing Plants
I browsed through my home library last night and came across an old book I’d picked up at a used book sale. It’s the kind of book my father would have loved, an old, well-thumbed, thick book on vegetable and fruit gardening techniques. No color plates, of course, just a few grainy line drawings and minuscule 10 point text.
Despite the fact that nearly every chapter recommends dousing the garden in malathion and captan (two strong chemicals used for insect and disease control that were popular int he 1960s and 1970s), the book immediately grabbed my attention for its simple message:
Why plant trees and shrubs just for ornamentation? Why not transform your yard into an edible paradise?
How Much Do You Spend on Fruit and Vegetables?
I’m not knocking ornamental trees and shrubs. I love my beautiful dogwoods, hollies, flowering almond, and more. Flowers nourish the soul just as fruits and vegetables nourish the body.
But for those who bemoan the fact that they have small backyards or not enough sunlight in the established “garden” areas…why not plant edibles as part of your backyard garden design ideas?
A dwarf apple tree, a peach tree, or a pear tree doesn’t take up much space and provides shade during the summer just like a dogwood or maple provides shade. Blueberry bushes planted along a walkway offer tasty fruit as well as gorgeous fall color; my little blueberry bush turned a pretty orange-red color this fall equal to any ornamental plant.
Rethinking Backyard Garden Design Ideas
It’s time to rethink backyard garden design. Ideas such as planting fruit and nut trees or vegetable gardens in either the front or the backyard aren’t so far fetched.
What’s actually more far-fetched is today’s crazy push for a lush, green carpetlike lawn. It’s as if we were all poor Victorians yearning to be the lord on the hill with his croquet lawn. Sounds crazy?
Consider this: until the 19th century, most homes didn’t have a lawn per se. A small paddock for a sheep or a cow in the front sufficed. In the rear garden, vegetable beds, a fruit or nut trees, and an herb garden provided fresh food the family’s needs.
How much space are we wasting with lawns? How much money do we waste on lawn care products?
Yes, I have a grass lawn on my property but we have the room for it. If I lived in the suburbs again, I’d seriously consider relandscaping with fruit trees and shrubs.
I’d like to urge everyone to rethink their lawns. If you’re looking to save money on food bills, why not supplement your food supply with your own fresh homegrown produce? No, it won’t be as fancy or “perfect” looking as what you can buy in the stores. My apples are sometimes misshapen, sometimes streaked with a bit of brown; the peaches get Oriental fruit moth. I don’t spray either fruit trees anymore. The fruit still offers plenty for canning, making pies, applesauce.
Modern families don’t need to rely on the little kitchen garden behind the house or the cow grazing in front for their food. A little vegetable patch and a few fruit trees can, however, provide plenty of additional food. And what if everyone turned a bit of their suburban paradise into a food-producing plot? Could we make a dent in hunger, malnutrition, and chronic illness if we simply embraced the fact that homegrown, local food could be as close as our backyards?
A little “food for thought” on this Friday. This November, I’ll be writing more about adding edibles to the garden including fruit trees and shrubs, herb gardens and more. Hope you enjoy!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.