Edible landscaping combines the best of aesthetics, ease of care and edible delights. Why not have your yard and eat it, too?
Whether it’s lawns to gardens, herb spirals on the patio, an outdoor edible room, or stunning fruit in the front yard Ecologia brings edible dreams come true.
Edible landscapes are shaped to meet your dreams and needs. Every client has a different vision and set of goals to design for. Ecologia takes these goals and dreams and overlays them on your landscape to see where they overlap. Our knowledge of appropriate plant selection and creative patterns make each design a one of a kind whether it’s for the home, business, school or extended community.
Our site is designed to give you a tour of our services and design ideas. Jump here for here for raised beds & terraces, here for back yard orchards, here for uncommon fruits, and here for an edible landscape recipe.
Laurel & Jay, Clover Hill, Frederick
Luscious Landscape You Can Eat!
Imagine a yard where trees are dripping with fresh fruits and ripening nuts, shrubs are packed with delicious berries, and every other plant is a medicinal herb, culinary spice, or beautiful edible flower. Tubers and root crops are abundant underfoot, gourmet mushrooms sprout in the shade, and hardy kiwi vines dangling fruit from the trellis. Imagine.
Ecologia’s Favorite Fruit, Nut and Perennials
It used to be that every yard had some kind of fruit or nut tree. At some point along the way we stopped planting them and just took buying fruit from the store as the norm but with renewed interests in organics yards are beginning to fill again with fruiting trees, shrubs and vines.
Growing fruit trees does not require an orchard space and many favorite fruits are also ornamental beauties that can be easily incorporated into existing landscapes .
Here are some ideas for bringing fresh fruit back home in style. Click here for a Luscious Landscape ‘Recipe’.
And see our list of favorites below
Mary and Carl, Taskers Chance, Frederick
Though seldom seen all of these selections will grow well in our mid-Atlantic region, zones 6 & 7, unless otherwise noted. They are also generally easier to grow species then our popular choices of apples, peaches, plums and nectarines. Not to mention they make gorgeous landscape choices that are mostly pest and disease resistant. See favorite fruits species list below. All can be acquired by Ecologia for Spring or Fall planting. Recommended reading on many of these is Lee Reichs ‘Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden’.
Bush & Cane Fruits:
- Bush Cherry – pie cherries on a bush
- Gooseberry – ‘Friend’ Variety is thornless
- Currants, black, red, white & pink
- Jostaberry, Gooseberry/Currant hybrid
- Blackberry- thornless and self-supporting
- Raspberry- everbearing no pruning just mow in Fall
- Aronia, chokeberry juice for hard to grow areas
- Elderberry – lace leaf var.
Shrub and Small Tree Fruits:
- Paw Paws – grafted and seedling
- Persimmon, Asian
- Figs – in protected area
- Medlar – medieval European favorite fruit like spiced apples
- Jujube, Chinese Date
- Cornelian Cherry, Fruiting Dogwood
- Che Fruit – delicious mulberry relative
- Flying Dragon Citrus – fruiting citrus good for juice
- Autumn Olive
- Goumi Berry – nitrogen fixing berry bush
- Highbush Cranberry
- Pomegranate – in protected area
- Sea Berry, Sea Buckthorn – medicinal fruit & nitrogen fixer
- June Berry, Service Berry – shrub or small tree with blueberry/almond flavor
Mid-Size Fruits (can be pruned and maintained small)
- Persimmon, American
- Mulberry, contorted, weeping and super sweet varieties
- Pears, European, Asian & Cider
- Hardy Kiwi – needs male & female plants
- Hops – ornamental climber
- Passion Flower, Maypop
- Hybrid Chestnuts
- Hazel Nuts, Filbert
- Pine Nuts, Korean & Siberian
- Yellow Horn – shrub with macadamia like seeds
- Fuki – prized Japanese vegetable
- Skirret – the original ‘potato’
- Edible Lilies
- Tea Plant – in protected area
- Mushrooms – oyster, shitake & wine cap
Tracey Frank, Downtown Frederick
*Geocells are designed specially as a permeable paving material. Geocells are a connected matrix of open, plastic cells that can be filled with aggregate, soil or turf. Can be designed for trails, horse paths, high use pedestrian areas, driveways and light traffic parking lots. Ref. http://www.uni-groupusa.org/eco-stone.htm
Raised beds do not need to be boxed up in wood. There are much more fruitful designs for your garden. Well placed and designed garden beds can accent the topography of your landscape while passively harvesting water and nutrients, reducing your efforts for a verdant garden.
Raised beds shaped on contour, also known as swales, sculpt your landscape in beautiful patterns that clearly define path and bed. Clearly defined raised beds and pathways help avoid soil compaction, allowing the soil to act as a living sponge and loose medium for plant roots. Starting your garden out with raised beds goes a far way to assure your planting success.
Terraces and tiered landscaping gardens add instant architecture and growing space to otherwise uneventful and unproductive slopes. Like raised garden beds on contour terraces passively harvest rain water while stabilizing slopes and show casing gardens in unique and creative ways. Well designed into the landscape they blend with your home or businesses architectural style.
Terraces can create several mini-gardens in your backyard. On steep slopes, terracing can make planting a garden possible. Terraces prevent erosion by shortening the long slope into a series of shorter, more level steps. This allows heavy rains to soak into the soil rather than run off and cause erosion.
Terraces present wonderful possibilities in the garden. They are outdoor living rooms during good weather and form a transition from the outdoors to the indoors throughout the year
The Art of Espalier & Arbors – Growing fruit vertically!
Espaliered plants are prized for their beautiful vertical accents and for their ability to add ornamental beauty to both compact and sweeping spaces. They can be used either as privacy screens, to adorn bare walls, to define walkways and drives, or to create an edible outdoor room. Providing not only a feast for the eyes, but for the tongue and tummy as well.
Ecologia offers many design options for growing fruit creatively and artistically regardless of your garden size. Using locally and ecologically harvested black locust we construct free standing fruit fences, arbors and trellis’s. From fan shaped currants and multi grafted espalier fruit fences to grape dripping arbors. Edible Architecture at its best.
Herb spirals add instant character and edible architecture to your landscape. Spirals are a great way to grow an abundance of herbs and plants in a small space. The herb spiral creates multiple micro-climates for a range of favorite herbs. Starting at the top where it is sunny and windy Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, oregano and thyme are planted, winding down chives to the north, parsley and cilantro to the east, sage, basil and lavender to the south, wrapping up with water cress or flavored mints at the lowest, moistest point. The mix is up to you as you have lots of space and conditions to work with. Herb spirals also extend the growing season by heating up early in the year and stay productive late into the season from the radiant rock heat.
There are no limitations to size and character of plant spiral designs. From the smallest patio snail to a large step in herb spiral. They can even go over brick or concrete.
*A good example of an Ecologia herb spiral installation can be seen at Volt restaurant in downtown Frederick where culinary wizard Bryan Voltaggio is often seen popping out to cut fresh herbs. Also check out the espalier fruit fence and fanned gooseberries that create an ‘edible room’.
Imagine a yard where trees are dripping with fresh fruits and ripening nuts, shrubs are packed with delicious berries, and every other plant is a medicinal herb, culinary spice, or beautiful edible flower. Tubers and root crops are abundant underfoot, gourmet mushrooms sprout in the shade, and hardy kiwi vines fruit over a shaded trellis.
Fruit trees, bushes and vines bring the joy and flavor of fresh picked fully ripe fruit home. Whether it is one or two fruit trees or a small food forest every landscape should be graced with hanging fruit. Food Forests take the mini orchard beyond just fruit.
A food forest is not growing food in a forest but rather like a forest. It imitates the natural ecology and pattern of a forest where multiple species grow together intimately and symbiotically. We take this pattern and plant the species we need for food, fiber, fodder, and medicines. So instead of just sticking the pear tree out in the lawn to defend itself in a sea of grass with marauding weed whackers we create an extended mulch circle that we plant with useful and beautiful perennials that also support the pear. Leave it at one or space a few of these oasis’s about 15 feet apart and in time you’ll be weaving through a food forest with your wheelbarrow stacking up the harvest!
Ecologia works with a cornucopia of uncommon fruit trees, bushes , vines, cane fruits, nuts, perennial vegetables and mushrooms that are selected for beauty, abundance, and easy of care.
– Brigitte Fortin, Myersville, MD
Growing culinary mushrooms and using fungi for ecological restoration is fun, easy and tasty! Growing gourmet mushrooms is an interesting addition to gardening that can provide you with numerous harvests containing more delicious gourmet mushrooms than you’ll be able to eat.
Growing gourmet mushrooms on wood logs and wood chips can be as easy as growing kale and best of all needs no sunlight. Those shady evergreens in the yard finally have a productive purpose! Oyster and shitake mushrooms grow well on wood logs that roughly measure 5 inches in diameter by 40 inches long, ideally cut or acquired at winters end. The logs are drilled and plugged with spawn (seed) sealed with wax and stacked in the shade. With good moisture and shade they will begin to pop mushrooms in 12-18 months and depending on the species of wood used can produce up to 8 years. Oyster and shitake are especially productive in our climate.
Does working with logs sound like a pain in the back? Wine Cap mushroom are best grown on hard wood chips and can grow up top 5 lbs! Once the mycelium (thread like structure of fungi) colonizes the chips they can be tucked under your vegetables to double your harvests and boost plant growth.
Gourmet mushroom cultivation is easy to learn and begin. Ecologia offers hands on workshops and installations.
Recommended reading for both cultivation and restoration: Paul Stamets ‘Mycelium Running’.
Water-harvesting earthworks are the simple strategies and landforms that capture and ‘plant’ rain and localized run off
In sculpting your landscape and creating water capture systems, you are restoring, revitalizing, and mimicking natural systems such as forest watersheds while improving aesthetics and production. With urbanization we have sealed so much of the land with roads, buildings and parking lots creating vast run off, storm water challenges, pollution, erosion and loss of fertility. By adding rainwater harvesting technologies such as swales, rain gardens, permeable hardscapes, green streets, Keyline Design and tree planting it is possible to replace the watershed and ecosystems that have been lost.
Passive water harvesting earthworks serve as the foundation of thriving landscapes and are appropriate for use in schoolyards, parks, farms, ranches, street medians, public rights-of-ways, restoration sites, and in your yard.
Ecologia works with clients to select, place, size, construct, and plant your chosen earthworks.
Rain gardens are basically sunken garden beds, like a bowl or catcher’s mitt, it collects, infiltrates, and utilizes the rain and organic matter that falls within it, while also catching the runoff from the surrounding area. Rain gardens work best on relatively flat landscapes or gradual slopes. Place them where you want to grow vegetation (ideally Fruits!), they work great near driveways, pathways, patios, alleys, gathering areas, and buildings if they are positioned lower than these hardscapes. The excavated soil from creating a rain garden can also be used to build meandering raised pathways or patios that beneficially drain their run off into the basins.
Get creative and imagine a series of rain gardens that can be designed to spill into each other creating an oasis of fruit trees and interconnected mosaic of themed gardens. Rain garden basins can also be placed around the home or building to grow shade trees on the north, east and west sides that form a living solar arc that cool outdoor summer temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees, while maintaining full winter sun access by planting low vegetation in south facing basins. Make your landscape a rain water harvesting oasis that waters for you, protects our Bay watershed, cools your house and beautifies your surroundings.
Ecologia sites, designs and plants unique, multi-functional rain gardens for all landscapes.
French drains are great designs to harvest and move rain water where you want in the landscape. They can take on many different functions and looks. French drains in urban/suburban landscapes are usually designed along hardscapes, drives, patios, building foundations etc. to either capture and infiltrate run off water or move standing water further out in the landscape.
The basic design element of a French drain is a stone filled trench, either on contour or slightly off, that allows water to infiltrate quickly or be moved to where it can best be utilized. As with rain gardens French drains are used on flat or gently sloping land, suitable adjacent to patios, paved parking areas, buildings, driveways, walkways and down spouts. Designed with rain gardens or raised bed swales or just on their own French drains fit nicely into the existing landscape, adding a new dynamic that seamlessly combine beauty and function.
Green Streets & Green Parking Lots
We can create mini watershed along our streets and within our parking lots by harvesting rainwater runoff into planted basins. Think of a street or parking lot as a watershed and collecting water runoff at multiple points dividing the ‘watershed’ into subwatersheds. Each subwatershed or basin yields an easily managed volume of harvested rainwater that quickly infiltrates to passively irrigate plantings.
Planted with trees these rain garden basins act as living air conditioners, living carports, and living water and air filters. By harvesting storm water onsite we reduce street flooding, decrease the need for flood control and Bay pollution, we beautifies neighborhoods and creates wildlife habitat. .
– Virginia Stormwater Design Specifications
- Lancaster, Brad Rainwater Harvesting, Vol.1,2 & 3
Designing for wild flowers and wildlife adds an extra dimension to the landscape. It is an exciting way of gardening and can help our native wildlife by providing food and habitat that may be in short supply in the wild. Even a small garden can be managed in such a way that birds and mammals become a part of the fabric of the garden, rather than occasional visitors.
Jo and Jos Hindriks, near Frederick, MD
Whether it is a wild flower border to draw in butterflies and song birds or vast meadows of swaying flowers we help pollinate your wildest dreams. Ecologia prepares wild flower sites organically and custom designs high quality wild flower mixes to suit your site.
Landscaping for Wildlife
Landscaping for wildlife involves some new principles which are beyond the scope of traditional landscape practices. Landscapes designed for wild life focus on food, water, shelter and spacing.
No matter what the size or location of your yard you can begin to attract wildlife. Ecologists have shown that a single minor change in a landscape can bring from 5-10 times as many birds to a yard.
Planting a wild life landscape creates all season interest with fruits and berries, grains and seeds, nectar sources, nuts and acorns, browse plants (woody twigs and buds), forage plants (grasses and legumes), and aquatic plants. A native food forest!
Some Favorites for Wildlife and Human Alike!
- Crab apples
Woo Wildlife With Water
Landscaping your backyard for wildlife is not complete without water. It is an essential habitat component. Constructing a wildlife pond is one of the best ways to encourage birds, insects, mammals and amphibians to your garden. Any pond is useful in the garden, but one made specially for wildlife will tempt birds and mammals to drink, dragonflies and damselflies to breed, and encourage toads, newts and frogs to take up residence in your garden.