You don’t need a lot of space or a framed-out garden if you want to grow your own herbs and vegetables in your backyard! Here’s what I did to integrate edible plants into my landscaping and grow some of my own groceries. And the great news is I can use my Worx Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower to safely maintain it!
Grow Your Own Food: Integrating Vegetables and Herbs in Your Landscape
There are few things more satisfying to me than stepping out into my yard to clip fresh herbs or veggies for my recipes! But it’s important to pick plants that are known to grow well in your area. I live in the southeastern US, so I chose beans, bell peppers, rosemary, parsley, thyme and basil. I typically steer clear of root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, which need relatively deep and loose soil, and makes them harder to grow where I live because of the red clay that makes up much of the natural soil.
NOTE: Be wary of herbs that have spreading roots, like mint and oregano. Once you plant them, they are hard to get rid of! I planted this oregano about 8 years ago, and although this area is completely shaded now, the oregano just keeps growing.
Step 2 - Pick your locations
Picking the best spot for your herbs and veggies is dependent on a few factors:
- Available sunlight
- Available moisture
- Whether the plants will climb or spread
- Appropriate soil
Here in the South, it's important to till up the hard clay soil and add some additives to loosen it up, such as top soil, peat moss, or compost. This will help give the roots plenty of space to grow and help with proper drainage.
Beans are climbers, so I planted them along my fence line. I started them early in spring in smaller boxes and let them grow into seedlings, then transferred them to the fence line. A few more weeks and they will start climbing up the fence, flowering, and growing some delicious beans! I even got my daughter involved by having her make some cute plant stakes.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that thrives in most growing zones, and once you plant it, it tends to proliferate. Plant it in a very sunny spot and you’ll never have to buy fresh rosemary again! I planted these a couple of years ago, and once I did a little spring cleaning, my back fence looked lovely again. (And it smells wonderful too!)
Parsley is known as a “biennial,” meaning that it is neither annual nor perennial; it will bloom once the cool winter sets in, drop its seeds, then die. New plants might grow in its place in spring, giving the impression that it’s perennial. Regardless, it is a hardy plant that grows quite well throughout the US, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Fresh parsley is infinitely better than dried, so it’s absolutely worth planting along borders, corners, or anywhere that it’s sunny. I bought this plant at the grocery store, instead of buying cut parsley, and planted it by my deck stairs to make it easy to walk out and cut some while I’m cooking dinner. (And the wonderful bonus was that it was actually three plants in one container!)
Another herb that’s far better when it’s fresh is basil. Basil will grow almost anywhere in the U.S. as long as there is warm, sunny weather. I’ve read that it can be perennial, although that has never been my experience, despite living in a relatively warm climate (it’s only ever an annual for me). It likes lots of sun, but it can take a little bit of daily shade as well. Like the parsley, I bought this plant at the grocery store instead of cut basil (another 3-plants-in-one deal!), and planted it in another nook near a fence. Basil can grow to be over 2 feet in height, so I planted it behind some lower annual flowers.
Thyme is a delicious and fragrant herb that doubles as a hardy low-lying ground cover plant. Its branches spread, but its roots do not, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over your planter beds. Like rosemary, thyme is a perennial in most growing zones, though it will lose many of its leaves with the first hard freeze. Plant it once, and you will enjoy fresh thyme for years to come.
Red bell peppers are one of my favorite vegetables (well, technically they’re fruits), and they are very easy to grow! I bought this plant at my local home improvement store, and just popped into the pre-tilled soil right next to the beans. If you prefer a little bit of spice, jalapenos and habaneros are easy to grow as well!
Experienced gardeners will notice a few things that are conspicuously absent from this list. Tomatoes, for instance, grow prolifically in most growing zones; however, they must be staked or caged to support the heavy fruit, making them a little more difficult to integrate into your landscape with a natural appearance. Cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins also grow well here in the southeast US, but they spread wide along the ground and have very large leaves. As such, they are hard to incorporate into smaller yards or planter beds.
My Worx Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower lets me keep the grass trimmed safely, without the plants accidentally getting mowed over and destroyed (which is more than I can say for myself or my husband). Placing the perimeter line at least 10 inches from the plants ensures that the mower will not roll over them. Each day, the Landroid clips the grass just a little bit to keep it nice and tidy, leaving me to focus on the more fun aspects of gardening!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Worx, and as always, all opinions are my own.