UC Food Safety
University of California
UC Food Safety

Make your vegetable garden gorgeous

Vegetable and fruit gardens are taking over American backyards and that is a really good thing. However, many gardeners are forgetting that their backyard should also be a place to enjoy in other ways and hence the food garden really should be a thing of beauty as well as productivity.

I was at a garden in downtown Oakland not too long ago and the garden, while productive for being on a vacant lot, still looked somewhat like a vacant lot. You could tell there were veggies growing, chickens ran around and there were also goats on the lot but it wasn’t really a place of beauty. It looked more like a weedy lot with intermittent plots of veggies.

A beautiful vegetable garden is not difficult but it does take some planning. First, it is important to think about design. Create a garden that is pleasing to the eye with garden beds that are appropriate size for the space, and are repeated in the garden. Include walkways and paths that are clear cut and wide enough for equipment that you will use. Add elements that excite the eye such as an interesting trellis for your peas or a small bird

bath or other elements that create interest.

Hide things that are not attractive with a trellis or with a screen of fruit trees. Everyone needs a place to stack up green garden refuse that needs to be chopped up for the compost pile.

Create space to sit and ponder your garden and rest in the shade. On a hot day out in the garden a little bench with some shade is a welcome respite.

Plan ahead so that you have open beds you can plant in August for your winter vegetables. So often we plant everything for summer and then August comes and we don’t have any room left for broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions and garlic.

Consider color as an added element to your garden. Flowers add not only blasts of color but they also enhance the beneficial insect population. Add color to your garden by painting raised beds with colorful designs.

Add something quirky to your garden. Do you have an antique or rusted metal object that can be planted with trailing herbs or strawberries? How about hanging an old stained glass window on a tree branch or a fence. Even colorful bottles hung around the garden add interest and sound.

The key is to make your garden pleasing to the eye as well as the palate.

Posted on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 7:11 AM


Great post. Inspirational as I try to integrate more vegetables into my yard but often can't figure out how to or struggle with keeping the beauty part.

Posted by Lynette Spicer on September 2, 2010 at 6:44 PM

Thanks Lynette: I agree...the beauty part is often the most difficult because not all of us are artists or designers and we also are working with pretty limited budgets. The best thing to do is to draw it to scale on paper first. That way you can make inexpensive mistakes on paper instead of investing all that work and finding out it doesn't look good. Good luck!!!!

Posted by Pamela M. Geisel on September 3, 2010 at 9:46 AM

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