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Edible, Eco-Friendly Lanscaping Ideas for Your Backyard!

Updated on October 21, 2012

Edible Landscaping: Eco-Friendly Landscaping Ideas For Your Backyard

You've probably landed on this page looking for great landscaping ideas for your backyard (and maybe front yard too).

What you will read below may not be exactly what you had in mind.

However, I want to encourage you to keep an open mind and read about this unorthodox (at least here in the U.S.) idea to green your landscaping turn your backyard lawn into a lush fruit and vegetable garden.

Here is why and how to do it.

Unortodox, Eco-Friendly Landscaping Idea for Your Backyard

It will work for your front yard too!

Creative and original landscaping ideas are not easy to find. Today's backyards are considered extensions of the home. Homeowners are making the best of them. Updated decks and patios, gazebos and hot tubs are becoming common place. Some of today's high end homes boast backyard kitchens that rival any indoor kitchen.

However, I want to propose a different solution.

I want to propose an idea that will not only change your backyard - it has the potential to change your life!

A landscaping idea that will change your life, not just your backyard is what I call Edible Landscaping.

It's an eco-friendly, life-changing, edible vegetable garden that you will plant your backyard.

Rip your own lawn. Plant a fruit tree. Plant some herbs and vegetables.

Top Benefits of Eco-Friendly Landscaping

Benefits of growing a vegetable garden in your backyard

1. Healthiest food you can find anywhere to nourish your body and get your health back. This is the healthiest (assuming you are not using chemical fertilizers), most nutritious, freshest, and most local food you can eat. It will taste great too. Grow some greens to prepare some great green smoothie recipes and other low-fat smoothies with your favorite smoothie blender.

2. Great physical activity with a sense of purpose. Year round, outdoor activity, with a deeper meaning, that will nourish your body and your soul. You will be getting a great workout in the garden without the need to drive to the gym or buy expensive equipment. Lose weight naturally, increase your metabolism and improve your health.

3. Save loads of money on food, gym membership or expensive home exercise equipment.

4. Enjoyable way to spend your time with your kids, family and/or friends. Instead of driving several hours to a vacation home, it's your own sanctuary right in my own backyard, and enjoy it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

5. Last, but not least, you will be helping the planet. Typical lawns are high maintenance and resource intensive, while giving back little in return. Growing your own food involves growing calories for eating by means of photosynthesis. Typical calorie of food energy in your diet now requires about ten calories of fossil fuel energy to produce. It's estimated that the way we feed ourselves, accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions for which each of us is responsible.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Growing watermelons in your backyard

Poll: Are Front Yard Vegetable Gardens a Bad Idea?

Front and back yard edible gardens are popular in California, and some other areas.

However, there's a woman in a Detroit suburb who could face jail time if she doesn't remove the vegetable garden from her front yard.

Do you think planting edible plants should be permitted?

Are Front Yard Vegetable Gardens a Bad Idea? Is it wrong if it’s the only part of the property with good sunlight? Is it plain old ugly? Or can it be beautiful?

See results

Food not Lawns: How to Start a Vegetable Garden - Check out these great books on Amazon

Edible Lawns: Why Eco Friendly landscaping makes sense

Our Diet Makes Us Sick and Destroys the Planet

Number of people with high blood sugar diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma, high cholesterol and other chronic conditions are growing at an alarming rate and make lives people across the globe miserable, killing thousands every day. All these conditions have deep roots in what we put into our bodies each and every day.

No one denies anymore that global warming is caused by human activity. What most people don't realize is that the way we produce the food tops the list of factors contributing to this disastrous situation. That's right, the food industry is one of the key contributors to global warming, with livestock emissions exceeding even the emissions from transportation, a fact that even people who are somewhat interested in going green are often not aware of.

The industrial food system has proven itself ineffective and incapable of solving the world hunger, not to mention producing food that is actually nourishing, safe and healthy for humans to eat. Cutting costs and accumulating power and profits have proven to be more important than public health, safety, and sustainability.

As a result we have CHEAP food that is COSTING US OUR HEALTH, and the health of our planet.

We buy cheap food at fast food joints and supermarket, we drive our SUVs to and from these places, as well as work, we get sick and overweight, and then spend our money trying to buy solutions to our problems - various lose weight fast programs, exercise machines and gym memberships that we never use, as well as pills, medications, and surgeries for diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, and other ailments that oppress us.

Is this really what we all want?

No wonder people are waking up, and new movements are spreading across the globe. People are becoming more conscious of the problems and are searching for solutions.

Movies, books, and movements, such as, Food, Inc., Fast Food Nation, the Inconvenient Truth, Diet for the Hot Planet, Edible Schoolyard, Slow Food movement, help spread the awareness and education. However, what can an individual do to help? What can we all do to stop feeling helpless and powerless?

What can we do to turn our health around and help the planet?

Getting educated is certainly a first step. Learn what you can about healthy eating - even though you may feel confused about it, it's really not that complicated.

Next, grow a garden, plant a fruit tree.

The act that can help us all to improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and reduce our sense of dependence is growing some - even just a little - of your own food. Rip your own lawn, if you have one, and if you don't - look into other ways of getting access to a small piece of land - a roof-top garden or community garden are two ideas to explore. Plant a fruit tree. Plant some herbs and vegetables.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Tomato plant in your backyard

Educate yourself

The book that inspired me to write this Squidoo lens is Food Inc. I highly encourage you to read it, and watch the movie, if you haven't alrealdy seen it.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - How about some fresh lettuce straight from your backyard!

Lawns Across The US: The Satellite View

As people convert more land to human-tailored ones, we change the cycling of water and carbon dramatically. Across the United States, water supplies are under increasing pressure as populations grow. Forests and soils that were once a sink for atmospheric carbon can become sources as the natural landscapes are disturbed.

Among the human-tailored landscapes that influence carbon and water cycles in America are lawns. This color-coded map shows satellite-derived estimates of the fractional turf grass (lawn) area across the United States in shades of green. Areas where a large fraction of the land surface is lawn-covered are deepest green, while locations where the lawns cover a very small (or no) fraction of the land surface are lightest green or white.

The map shows how common lawns are across the country, despite a wide variability of climate and soils. Indeed, the scientists who produced the map estimate that more surface area is devoted to lawns than to any other single irrigated crop in the country. For example, lawns appear to cover more than three times the number of acres that irrigated corn covers. The large image shows a more detailed look at fractional lawn surface area in urban areas. In many cities, the urban core-where buildings, parking lots, and roads are densest-appears paler green.


Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until the late 1990's, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation's air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Summer squash in your backyard

3 More Landscaping Ideas and Tips

Create an Interesting Space For Your Family

Any little space can be turned into a garden. Use the small areas around your house to make your yard look bigger. Planting a foundation around the border of your home is a great use of space. Sideyards and small corners can be turned into lush spaces full of vegetables, flowers and small bushes.

1. You don't have to keep everything in straight lines, especillay when landscaping a small backyard space. Curved walkways and paths that lead along rounded planter beds create the illusion of more space.

2. Add a water feature. Ponds and containers full of water are a great addition to any backyard and do not have to be large. You can do small features that will fit in your area.

3, Use varying heights of various plants will give a sense of dimension and draw your eye upwards. Use a variety of leaves and colors. Opposites attract. Whites can brighten up areas around trees and other shady spots.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Red currant bush in your back yard

Red currants are delicious for making preserves and jams.

Low Maintenance Landscaping versus Gardening

Of course, if your focus has always been to create a landscape design that is as LOW MAINTENANCE as possible, you will balk at the idea of doing the opposite. No vegetable garden can be called low maintenance, righ?

We create low maintenance backyards, and then spend thousands of dollars on gym membership, exercise equipment, food, not to mention cost of landscaping. Even sitting in our backyards, we are disconnected from nature. Fruit and vegetable gardening is a way to change that.

And if done right, gardening isn't as time consuming as one might think. What you need is to apply the fundamentals of permaculture to your garden. At its core permaculture means sustainability.The time that is needed is invested initially into setting up the space and planting the trees and plants. After that you will be reaping benefits of organic gardening.

Edible landscaping produces all of conventional landscaping's beauty plus it always adds more with the smells, flavors and feelings that healthy, fresh food provides.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Orange tree in your backyard

Depending on where you live, an orange tree may or may not be an option.

What is permaculture?

Sustainable land use design in action

Permanent is from the Latin "permanens" - to remain to the end, to persist throughout. Culture is from the Latin "cultura" - meaning the cultivation of land, or the intellect. It is a philosophy, an ethic of caring for the earth and working with, not against nature with an attitude of thoughtful observation, an action-meditation - rather than undirected and thoughtless labor.

Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants' needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure.

Edible Landscape Ideas

Edible plant ideas for your backyard

These edible annuals are particularly well-suited to be tucked in between flowers and other non-edible plants in the yard:

- Leafy greens: All kinds of lettuce and leafy greens are a great addition to your backyard. They can even be mixed in among flowers and other perennials for variety.

- Artichokes: Beautiful silvery-blue foliage that looks good with purple or blue-flowering perennials. However, artichokes can be high maintenance and require lots of fertilizers.

- Blueberries, currants and other shrubs: There are many varieties from dwarf for containers to large sprawling shrubs for a bigger garden.

- Dwarf Meyer Lemon trees (for warmer climates): These are one of the easiest plants to grow for food, and they can go in a container or in the landscape as an attractive large shrub or small tree. These trees need plenty of organic matter in the soil to establish well, and the leaves go yellow fairly quickly from lack of nutrients.

- Strawberries: Make a good attractive ground cover (and spread faster than ornamental covers).

- Dwarf fruit trees: These are beautiful and easy maintenance plants. For example, figs boast beautiful lush and tropical foliage.

- Colorful Annuals: Such as red cabbage with its colorful foliage, string beans with purple flowers, colorful lettuce with their interesting leaf patterns, and the eggplant are all interesting, and tasty, additions to a your garden.

Try planting some of these edibles for a landscape that is not only edible, but beautiful.

Edible Landscaping Ideas: Food Not Lawns! - Munch on Mulberries, Right off the Tree

Mulberrie is a perfect combination of chewy with an ever-so-slight crunch and it packs a powerful anti-oxidant punch with resveratrol, which is also found in the skin of red grapes.

Container Gardening - No space? No problem!

New Guestbook Comments

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    • choosehappy profile image


      6 years ago from US

      Really good ideas! Love my little mini-garden in our backyard. At our last house we had a small one in our front yard; I was worried it would look 'not right' but it was really pretty.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We have also been planting veggies between the flowers for awhile now and it makes for an interesting and delicious garden

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      8 years ago from Vermont

      Plant gardens not lawns has been my motto for more than 30 years ... I still get funny looks from neighbors who spot lettuce and bean borders in my flower beds. :-D

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      fascinating lens, enjoyed it and you have alot of good stuff in this. looking forward to what you add to it later on. gave you a 'thumbs up'.


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