Vegetable gardens are becoming a thing of beauty as more gardeners are growing food in their front yards or making their edible gardens part of the home’s landscape. Personally, I always thought veggie gardens were a wonderful thing to see wherever they were, but even I am learning that with just a little consideration they can look much more appealing. Here are four things to consider when planning your vegetable garden's aesthetics:
Adding dimension to your garden not only improves its eye appeal, it gives you the opportunity to grow vertically. Since we have been using the old ornamental windmill (pictured) to grow cucumbers or beans in our roadside garden, we have been receiving many more compliments from passersby. Plus, we get more produce.
We have seen many wonderful arbors in gardens, and even some structures that are specifically designed to complement the lines of the gardener’s home. Repurposing discarded or broken things in your garden is a great way to help the visual appeal of your garden and the environment at the same time.
Some flowers not only improve the appearance of the garden, they attract pollinators. Many of them are edible as well. Scarlett runner beans, sunflowers and nasturtiums are the first that come to mind. Not only do they produce wonderful color in your garden, you get food too. I have heard that ornamental gardeners will often plant okra just for the beautiful flowers they produce. Jerusalem artichoke flowers are similar to a sunflower and smell like chocolate. All these are good choices to add color as well as dimension to your garden.
What is in between your garden beds is actually more visible when the garden is in full swing; everything else is, well, green. Your paths should be at least 2.5 feet wide; more room is better because it makes walking through the garden more comfortable. This year I increased the width of paths through many areas in the garden so I can get more help from my husband. He had started referring to it as "the girlie garden" because he was too big to navigate it easily.
What your path surface is can be whatever you like, and what complements your landscape. We chose gravel to match our driveway. I have seen many beautiful paths made of brick, stone, mulch, straw in rural settings, and even grass. If you are on Pinterest, I maintain a board there just for garden pathways.
A spot to sit and relax will make any garden more inviting; and every gardener should have some time to enjoy the beauty of what they grow and a place to reflect on the wonder of it all. This is also a good way to fill in an area that gets more shade than the rest, and can even include some shade-loving plants. Furniture made of materials such as stone, wood or metal is more visually appealing in a garden than plastic, and will fit the overall design better. We chose metal since we already had the other materials in the area.
So with very little effort we changed the overall appearance of our roadside garden from being simply a place where food is growing, to something worth seeing. We have no doubt of that, because we see passing cars slowing down so drivers can get a better look all the time.
It’s a good thing we don’t live on a busy road, or it could be dangerous!
Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at gardeningjones.com/blog.