Edible Landscaping for Beginners: The Steps of the Plan!

Edible Landscaping for Beginners: The Steps of the Plan!

Once all your prep work has been thoroughly completed gather up all your lists and get ready to design the plan for your edible landscape. When making an edible landscape plan it is important to keep all of your end goals in mind along with the time it will take to reach those goals.

Purple Podded Pole Beans

Time as a Factor of a Plan

Time is a significant consideration when planning your garden.  It’s a factor that really effects every other aspect of the plan.  In the short term time will be a factor in planting your annual edibles.  You will have to determine when to start planting and when to harvest.  We also have the seasons to consider: cool season, warm season, and the transitions in between.  Time is a factor in the production of fruits from shrubs, trees, and vines which need a couple years to mature enough to make produce.  Crop rotation also needs to be scheduled which makes it another element of a multi-year edible landscape plan.

Long Term: Fruit bearing trees, shrubs, and vines.
Mid Term: Perennial edibles
Short Term: Annual plantings and tender perennials.

Steps of the Plan

To create a good plan that covers a multi-year edible garden project you need to go methodically step by step by thinking backwards from the end goal.  The end goal is a sustainable edible landscape that provides year round produce.  (Keep in mind that year round produce can include produce that has been preserved) With the end goal in mind try using these steps:

  1. Measure and map your landscape.  If you have a plat map of your property that is a good place to start. Otherwise use an online satellite map to get the aerial view of your property.  You can use the “print screen” button then pull it into an editor program.  Either use the editor program if you like to draw on the computer or print it off to make notes or transfer onto drawing paper to do by hand. You don’t have to do the whole property at one time.  Consider making smaller garden plans for each individual zone.  I prefer gardening in this way because it is very flexible and can be implemented at any pace you can afford.
  2. Place existing structures on your plan.  Include the house, the garage, the shed, the fences, and anything else you don’t plan on moving!
  3. Add permanent structures to the plan (sheds, outbuildings, greenhouses, fences) that may not exist yet. If you plan or hope to add something later don’t plant anything long term there.  Plant the location with something short term to make the space productive until you implement the future structure.
  4. Mark your existing garden beds you plan to keep in the garden. Then draw the new garden beds.  Be sure to mark the locations of any raised beds.  Include borders and write down a description of the concept of the garden bed.  Is it themed to colors, textures, or just a combination of ideas?  
  5. Add the largest plants to the plan first.  You will have to plan around the trees and shrubs.  Be sure to mark their mature space requirements.  Until the plants reach maturity you can add extra edibles near them but don’t put any long term plants there, stick to short term plants only.
  6. Add perennial plants next followed by annuals.  Always try to find the mature size of the plant and scale the plant on your plan to that size.  Accuracy in the mature size of plants is important in determining the quantity you need for the garden area.  Proper spacing is also important to avoid fungal diseases.  Good spacing between plants allows the air to flow and helps the plants dry out between rains.
    Sage – Salvia officinalis
  7. Include a key in the plan for each garden area.  Everyone’s drawing skills are different and your plan may be an exquisite piece of art or might just be a bunch of blobs on paper, but either way mark what those blobs are an reference them to a key. When you reach the second year of your plan you might have forgotten what the symbols on your plan meant.
  8. Go through each garden area and make lists of what materials and supplies you need (plants included) to implement that garden.  Once you have that list on hand you can get started!

It sounds complicated but if you have methodically gone through everything in the Edible Landscaping for Beginners series so far much of this has already been planned out.  All you need to do is assemble the info into a workable plan.  I tend to plan my landscape by individual gardens.  I find it’s easier to concentrate one spot at a time rather than the whole landscape.  The exceptions to the individual garden idea are the long term plants.  Those plants need to get started as soon as possible to give them as much growing time as you can.  If you have the space planning a separate orchard area and adding a couple trees/shrubs each year is a great idea. Unfortunately not everyone has a landscape large enough for an orchard so incorporating the larger plants into garden areas is often the best way to go.


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.
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