Eating Economics

Save $1,000/year in grocery bills by planting a about 100 sq. ft. of produce.
Lawns account for 50% of all residential water bills nationally, according to the US EPA. Now add in the price of fertilizers, fungicides, algaecides, pesticides and other lawn care products and equipment.

Luckily you can reverse the cash flow by eating your lawn instead of having it eat the green in your wallet!

Think about grocery store prices for strawberries and blackberries or organic foods and the small plastic containers of herbs as well as something shipped from a farm somewhere in Central America.

The benefit of turning a lawn into an edible landscape is that a family of 4 can save $1,000 a year by devoting just 100 square feet of the yard to planting edibles, the best part is the 100 square feet don’t have to be next to each other: Plant an herb garden in the kitchen, a tomato plant outside, even some mushrooms in the crawl space.

Roses are red, Violets are blue,
but blueberries and raspberries are the same color and delicious too!

Create a field of dreams for your edible garden and your concept can yield some delicious and healthy results. The answer to the age old question of finding the best food has always been in your own backyard, because watching something grow and then getting the opportunity to enjoy its wonderful taste is the freshest most amazing food you can eat.

What is an edible landscape?
An edible landscape is an attractive way of planting a yard with valuable resources that feed and nourish the family with wholesome, fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables and herbs. Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be a corn field out your front door.

What are examples of edible plants?
Strawberries: They can be substituted for ground covers such as ivy or pachysandra.

Creeping thyme: An ideal herb for placing between stepping stones.

Blueberry bushes: They are a popular choice to replace accent plants such as azaleas.

Blackberries: Tasty thorn-less varieties can ramble along a fence.

Fruit trees: Peach, pear or apple trees bear fruit, unlike the commonly used non-fruit-bearing Bradford pear.

Vegetables, including cool-season and winter vegetables, can be tucked among the edible plants in different areas or sited singularly to capture optimum sunlight.

What will the neighbors say?
If you share, or invite them to pick some for themselves, probably not much.

What about zoning?
It’s always a good idea to share your ideas and develop your local neighborhood relationships as well as make sure you are in compliance with local zoning codes. The desire for sustainability is causing changes in zoning across the country and is a credible issue to raise in any meeting that represents your communities policies.

Are edible landscapes really a good value?
While there are many ways to measure value, monetary value usually seems to be the No. 1 consideration.

Many costs are one-time expense (durable garden tools, building planter boxes or buying flower pots).

A few of the many popular and easy-to-grow home vegetables fruit and their dollar value. (Awesome Graphic Coming Soon)

“While there were no edible landscaping companies in the Atlanta area prior to us starting in 2006, now there are several,” said Lindsey Mann (Sustenance Design in Decatur, GA.) “The same is true in other cities all over the nation.”

The exact dollar value of an edible landscape is difficult, if not impossible, to measure.

Factor in positive cost benefits of fuel savings for grocery trips or attach a negative value to the time spent in the garden.

But for many home gardeners, having the grocery produce “aisle” outside the front or back door and knowing that the food being served to family or guests is organically grown is a labor of love for which the intrinsic value far outweighs any monetary costs.

Then, of course, there is the immeasurable value of how much better home-grown food tastes than that which may have been picked before its prime and shipped thousands of miles 🙂

Ideas for an edible landscape…


Apple – Varieties such as “Anna” or “Arkansas Black” are excellent.
Persimmon – (Diospyros kaki) “Saijo” or “Eureka” are popular varieties. Self-fertile varieties exist.
Pomegranate – (Punica granatm) “Russian 8″ or “Wonderful” are often used in landscapes. Self-fertile.
Paw paw – (Asimina tribola) Delicious and uncommon fruit, try the “Davis” or “Mango” variety.
Apricot (Prunus armeniaca) OR Mulberry (Morus alba).


Groundcovers/ perennials
Alpine strawberry – (Fragaria vesca) Doesn’t run but stays mounded. Produces small fruits with great flavor.
Horseradish – (Armoracia rusticana) Needs some shade
Creeping raspberry – (Rubus calycinoides)
Creeping thyme – (Thymus serpyllum or Thymus praecox ‘Elfin’)
Lyreleaf sage – (Salvia lyrata) A good Ajuga substitute with an edible leaf.
Wineberry bramble – (Rubus phoenicolasius) Similar to raspberry, performs in shade.

Crandall black currant/ clove currant – (Ribes odoratum) Cool grower. Doesn’t do well in warm climates.
Japanese rose – (Rosa rugosa) For hips
Pineapple guava – (Feijoa sellowiana) Good flavor, fragrance, bloom, evergreen.
Rabbiteye blueberry – (Vaccinium ashei)
Tea camellia – (Camellia sinensis) White, green and black tea plant


Hardy kiwi – (Actinidia arguta) Needs female and male plants to set fruit; tolerates shade.
Maypop (Passion vine) – (Passiflora incarnata or coerulea) Needs female and male plants; loves hot sun.

Muscadine grape – (Vitis rotundifolia)
What does multi-dimensional mean?
Think of vertical layers, from ground covers to bushes to trees.

Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Marjoram

Make it pretty! Regional native plants can be strategically located among the edibles to add color and contrasting textures.

Native Plants will attract pollinators that will visit the vegetables: Ladybugs, birds, bees, and butterflies.

They also tend to adapt better than hybrids to the harsh conditions of summer heat or winter freezes!

Special Thanks to mnn.

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