Edible Gardens

Getting Started with Edible Gardens

Over the past 3 years, we have received more requests for edible gardens , including herb and vegetable gardens. My impression is that this increase in interest has come about due to the trend and encouragement to “be more green” and the health interest for organic food. Find a spot that gets enough sun. Vegetables and fruit trees need lots of it – at least 6 hours (preferably 8) of direct sunlight a day. Improve the soil with compost to grow the healthiest plants and largest harvests from the available space. The edible gardens that actually get approved and installed more frequently are herb gardens since the plants require less space to grow and are “prettier” plants.

Popular herbs for Atlanta: Rosemary, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Cilantro, Parsley, and Mint. All herbs mentioned do well planted together.  They all need full sun conditions and well-drained soil.  Start by seed in late winter inside, install grown-out plants in late Spring. For novice gardeners, most any herb is easier to grow than vegetables and fruits.  They require less space (can even be grown in container) and less extensive soil preparation. All new plants require regular watering during dry weather (2-3 times per week) and some pruning or pinching back as the plants grow.  Most herbs do not over-winter and will need to be replanted each year.

Popular vegetables for Atlanta: tomatoes, radishes, peppers, carrots, peanuts, beans, eggplant, cucumber, corn, potatoes, cauliflower, peas, onions, okra, broccoli, celery, artichokes, garlic, zucchini, cabbage, lettuce and turnips. Most leafy vegetables prefer cool weather and can be planted in Fall.  Most other vegetables can be planted in April.

Popular fruits for Atlanta:  Strawberries, Blueberries, Figs, Apples, and Pears. Plant strawberries in April; blueberry bushes in Fall; Fig, Apple and Pear trees in Fall

Plants that can be grown in containers: Herbs – most any herb. Vegetables – Tomatoes, peppers, beans on trellises, cabbage, lettuce. Fruits – Blueberry bush.

Creating Outdoor Rooms


  1. Sleeping, Reclining, Reading Areas:  On a beautiful day, haven’t you ever just felt like lying down to relax and feel the breeze and hear the birds and squirrels chatter?  You can when you have an outdoor bed or sofa.  Much like the appeal of sleeping inside a screened porch when the day or night weather feels so comfortable, you can create an outdoor space to fully relax by placing a weather-proof sleeping structure like a bed or Indian-style blanket in an appropriate spot outside.  You may also want to hang a “mosquito-net” from a tree or other structure to keep away the pests.  Cushions and other materials are now more available for outdoor use in many wonderful colors and patterns.
  2. Living Rooms for conversations: Although living rooms inside homes have been losing their appeal for “visiting” with friends and kitchens have now become the “visiting” area, a living room outdoors for relaxing and inviting conversation can be a wonderful addition to your landscaping.  Gorgeous new designs for outdoor furniture have exploded on the scene and even beautiful outdoor rugs are available.  So consider adding an outdoor living room and discover the enjoyment of tea time outdoors with your friends while your kids also have fun running around outdoors.
  3. Outdoor showers: Yes, outdoor showers are becoming popular – especially if you have a pool and don’t want to go dripping inside to get to the bathroom to shower.  And you feel even more in communion with Nature while showering outdoors.  I have seen wonderful examples of showers artfully created with natural stone that simulates showering under an outdoor waterfall.  And other natural materials such as stone, wood or tin can be used to create privacy “walls”.
  4. Dens with fireplaces or firepits: Outdoor fireplaces, along with outdoor kitchens, has been the fastest growing element for bringing the indoors outside.  Or if you don’t have the budget for an outdoor fireplace, there are many portable outdoor firepits available on the market.  So there is no excuse now for not getting out and enjoying the comfort of a warm fire and toasting marshmallows for s’mores on a nice cool evening.



Some ways to create the “walls” for outdoor rooms are:

  1. Actual walls or retaining walls created from stone, decorative concrete blocks, brick, wood, poured concrete, stucco, glass block.
  2. Any form of planting.
  3. Outdoor curtains or drapes.
  4. Placement of outdoor furniture.

Small Space Gardening

Small Space Design Considerations

1. Consider the type of space

  •  How much space is there?
  •  How do you want to use the space?
  •  What garden theme excites you?

2. What level of maintenance will be provided?

3. Will furniture be included?

  •  What type of furniture and how much space will it require?

4. What type of primary surface is desired?

  • Hardscaped
  • Grass
  • Mostly planted
  • Space for containers only 

5. How is or how will the space be enclosed?

6. What are the environmental conditions?

  • Sunny
  • Shady
  • Mostly wet
  • Very dry

7.  Is there a need to create some shade?

8.  What type of plants choices are there for this environment?

9.  Irrigation needs and options



1. Each individual plant should have a long season of interest

2. Be sure to use plants with contrasting textures

3. Use varying heights (this also goes for container gardens)


Perennials for Foliage:

  • Acanthus
  • Ajuga
  • Artemesia
  • Aspidistra
  • Canna
  • Crocosmia
  • Dicentra
  • Epimedium
  • Geraniums
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Heuchera
  • Hosta
  • Stachys byzantina
  • Summer Tropicals


Small Shrubs:

  • Azalea ‘Gumpo’
  • Boxwood
  • Euonymus
  • Fatsia
  • Ilex ‘Soft Touch’
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Prunus laurocerasus ‘Nana’
  • Taxus baccata
  • Sarcococca
  • Dwarf conifers

Small Trees:

  • Acer griseum
  • Acer japonicum
  • Amelanchier lamarckii (Serviceberry)
  • Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
  • Cornus
  • Crataegus
  • Magnolia stellata (Star)
  • Malus ‘Profusion’
  • Malus sargentii
  • Prunus serrula
  • Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Renovating Older Landscapes

Many homes within the Atlanta Perimeter area have a mature landscape that is looking tired and outdated.  If you are one of these homeowners, you may be unsure what to do about it or where to start.  Following are some tips to guide you in understanding what can be done:


1) shrubs have been pruned improperly

2) inappropriately planted shrubs whose mature size is too large for the location

3)  little to no fertilization

4)  surrounding trees have become larger and providing more shade and root competition

5) large trees have fallen or have been removed, suddenly subjecting plants below to direct sun


Choice 1) decide if they are worth renovating with pruning and fertilization, and

if you can wait while they “look bad” for several months

Choice 2)  remove old shrubs and start over with new shrubs appropriately

selected for location


Use a fertilizer formulated for Tree and Shrub use with ironite included

(Be sure to follow directions and not use too much!)


When trees are young and small, the plants installed around them are usually ones that do better with good sunlight.  Now that the trees are mature and provide a lot of shade, the plants beneath are not getting enough light. These plants should be moved to an area with more sunlight and new shade plants installed under the tree shade.


The plants underneath may require shade, and now they are suddenly in full sun (such as Azaleas).  Either plant a new, large tree that will provide enough shade; or move these plants to a shadier area and replace with full sun plants.


1)  Improved sidewalks

2)  New driveway with masonry details (i.e. stone apron or other)

3)  Larger planting beds

4)  Redo lawns that are 50% or more weeds

5)  New, larger deck

6)  Additional drainage installed

Landscaping to Increase Curb Appeal

Spending just $400 to $500 (for do-it-yourselfers) on fresh landscaping, for example, can boost your home’s curb appeal and value by $1,600 to $1,800, according to a survey of real estate agents conducted by HomeGain, an Internet real estate service.



  • PRUNING – Reign in those unruly shrubs that are hiding your house
  • MOWING AND EDGING – Mow your lawn or hire a mowing service every week during the active growing season.  And include edging the grass along curbs, walkways, patios, and bedlines.
  • PLANTED SPACES – Keep your planted spaces clean.  Keep these areas weeded and cleared of leaves.
  • MULCH – Fresh and clean mulch for areas that are planted or are bare ground is essential for curb appeal.
  • ROOF AND GUTTERS – It also helps to keep the roof and gutters cleared of leaves, pine needles, extra



  • FLOWERS – Plant annual flowers for each season in existing flower beds, or create new flower beds at key locations such as the mailbox, beginning of sidewalk, and/or close to the front door.  For the backyard, containers of flowers on patio and decks can add to the overall look.
  • SHRUBS – If there are empty spaces in the front where plants have died, replace them with plants close to the size of existing ones around them.  Replace diseased or otherwise sad-looking shrubs.
  • TREES – Remove dead limbs from trees (or have a tree service do it).  It also looks better and cleaner to remove short lower limbs on large trees in the yard.



  • PLANTING – Fall is the best time to plant trees and hardy shrubs
  • BULBS – November is best for planting bulbs that will bloom in late winter to early spring.
  • LEAVES – Keep leaves cleared off your lawns; especially if you have newly seeded fescue.  Invest in a blower – it really makes quick work of leaf removal.
  • MULCH – After the leaves have mostly fallen, it is important to check the mulched area.  If the mulch is thin or has disappeared from an area, add some mulch.  It will protect the roots of the plants and trees from extreme soil temperature changes over the winter.  Mulch also helps to conserve moisture and get down on weeds.