Edible Landscaping
April 15th by Anthony D'Atri

As you think about various landscaping strategies around your house, consider how you might use your landscape for food production. Most of our fruits and vegetables are produced hundreds, or even thousands, of miles from where we live. They are grown using huge quantities of fertilizers and pesticides, then shipped across the country by truck. Or even worse, they are grown in other countries (often developing countries with few safeguards on pesticide use), and then flown to our markets. Any food we can grow ourselves, especially if we grow it organically, will help to reduce the environmental impacts of our food industry.

In designing the landscape around your home, try to provide space for a home vegetable garden. In choosing trees and shrubs, consider those that will produce food for your family. Permanent plantings for food production are aspects of a practice known as permaculture. Ask at local nurseries about appropriate plantings. Depending on where you live, consider apple, peach, plum, cherry, raspberry, blueberry. While some of these are not native plants, most will not become invasive (taking over natural vegetation), and their benefits in food production justify their use.

The landscape around your house is the first thing visitors will see; it's also what will greet you when you arrive home from work or look out your window on a Saturday morning. The perfect complement to a green home is a landscape that supports the region's natural biodiversity, that requires little, if any, irrigation or fertilizing, that requires a minimum of mowing, that keeps rainwater on the site and able to soak into the ground, that helps reduce energy use in your home, and that even provides for some locally grown fruits and vegetables. All this can be achieved with a little planning and care.