How to design a veggie garden that doesn’t look scrappy

Edible gardens are not all the same. There’s the good, the bad and the downright scrappy – I have seen and tended to them all.

I know as well as anyone that edible gardens have the potential to get out of hand as your good green-thumb intentions slip away with the busyness of the week, and months … then all of a sudden your parsley is unidentifiable among an avalanche of weeds and you’ve got a real life Jumanji scene on your hands.

It happens.

But intentional and beautiful design for any garden, in particular your quick growing, high-maintenance edibles, should be considered.

I believe if the garden looks good, you’ll care for it and if it functions well you’ll be able to maintain and enjoy it for years to come.

Here’s what I’ve found makes a big difference to the look, feel and success of your edible garden.

When building raised veggie beds, consider materials that match your home and existing garden. This could be timber, sandstone, brick or steel.

In my opinion, traditional and more natural materials look the best and last longer.

In our designs, we opt for textures that complement each other and the plants themselves.

At home, we love the patina our Corten planters develop over time as the deep rusty tone complements the gold decomposed granite they sit on.

These planters are a far better look and improved quality than a flat-packed plastic garden bed from your local hardware store.

Clean lines in the garden not only help to make it feel spacious and structured, but they allow your eye, to follow the journey through the garden easily.

Negative space to rest the eyes on will allow your key features to shine. Don’t be afraid to leave some empty space.

A few golden rules of design can be applied to the garden, namely groupings of odd numbers. We subscribe to the idea that three sunny pots of rosemary, sage and thyme look better than two, and five plants in a row look more appealing than four.

Patterns and consistency will help you avoid creating a museum of assorted one-off plants. Try to weave a continuum of plants throughout some key feature plants to tie the whole thing together.

If you’re designing or replanting a new ornamental garden, try incorporating some edible trees into the plan.

They can be appreciated for their form and foliage like any other ornamental tree, plus you’ll get a juicy harvest.

We’ve just planted an avocado, persimmon, fig and tamarillo among other exotic plants so they blend into the landscape, rather than being a second thought at the end.

Plant your edibles not just according to their preferred conditions, but what you’ll use the most.

I’ve got thyme and rosemary growing with native grasses and succulents near the front door so I can pick as I need them.

In the big Corten planters, the leafy greens are on the edge for the daily quick pick while eggplants and tomatoes stand further back. Climbers such as beans, cucumber and watermelon are growing up the fence behind them.

And lastly, as my partner likes to remind me often, everything should have a home. Hoses, tools, pots, stakes, extra potting mix and the like can be stored away to keep your garden looking the goods.


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