Not Your Grandpa’s Garden: Thinking Outside The Row

Close your eyes and picture a vegetable garden. Chances are you just saw a rectangular bed with neat and tidy rows of green- just like grandpa’s, your mother’s and your neighbor’s gardens. When starting a new garden it is easy to go straight to the old standards and overlook the beauty that can be achieved with a little planning. This year when laying out your edible garden try thinking outside the box, or row as the case maybe. Row after row of vegetables can be lovely in their own way but there are many simple ways to add a punch of style to your garden this season.

Try incorporating flowers in to the vegetable beds. Edible varieties are always nice, such as pansies and calendulas. Another option is to plant flowers to help the garden. Sunflowers and marigolds are great helping plants that will ward off unwanted pests.


Source: Heronswood Nursery

Instead of using tomato cages and standard trellises try twig tepees or using iron fencing/headboards for trellises to create a unique focal point in the garden. You can also try mixing in ground plantings and containers This is a great way to add height and dimension to the design.


Source: Sundry

Arranging greens and herbs in patterns creates a living picture. By thinking of greens and herbs as landscape plants it is easy to plant them in a new unique way adding a charming edible landscape.

Source: S.Smith

Shapes are a great way to add a little style to the garden. Circles, horseshoe, triangles and spirals all make a big impact with little effort.


Source: Van Chaplin, Southern Living

A great example of a beautifully designed garden bed is the image below from the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Viola and parsley towers created from wire frames are planted in beds of more parsley and cabbage. Violas are an edible flower creating a completely edible bed with beautiful color, pattern and depth.


There are a few rules to always remember, however, when designing your space no matter how straight or curvy. You always want to take practicality into account. Don’t make your beds too deep. You still need easy access to all the plants. You also want to do a bit of research, make sure when combining plants in beds that they are compatible. For instance don’t plant corn and tomatoes together since they are both summer crops the tomatoes will have their light blocked by the taller corn. Just remember, with a little planning and creativity your vegetable and fruit garden will have as much visual appeal as your prized flower beds this season.


What are way you add style to your edible garden?

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4 Responses to “Not Your Grandpa’s Garden: Thinking Outside The Row”

  1. May 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Thank you for the link. I do love a vegetable garden that lives outside the ordinary and brings beauty in the process.

  2. May 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I am in awe of the beautiful garden designs here, thank you for posting them. I had to laugh about your title, “not grandpa’s garden” as that was how we gardened when we were young. As soon as I had my own garden I went right to 4×4 squares planting areas and have never looked back!

    Perhaps when I grow up I will plant beautiful arrangements like those that you have pictured as they look lovely.


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