When you dream of your ideal landscape, does it include edibles? Vegetables, herbs, fruiting trees and shrubs – there are many options when designing and edible landscape and it doesn’t have to be separate from the rest of your landscape! If this is music to your ears, you might be interested in a permaculture landscape design! This case study in Hastings-on-Hudson, part of Westchester County, NY, involved a complete front yard renovation – removing existing weeds, constructing terraces, walkways, stairs and a new patio encircled by the garden.
Designing a Hillside for Erosion Control
The network of garden terraces and pathways were constructed with boulders, logs and engineered soil. Cumulatively, they effectively halt erosion of the slope and allow for greater absorption of stormwater during storm events. The previous herbaceous vegetation had little impact absorbing stormwater. The designed landscape’s strategic mix of trees, native shrubs, and deeply rooted ornamental grasses and perennials are much more effective at stabilizing the slope with their varied root systems and at transferring water back into the atmosphere (via evapotranspiration, strengthened by their high root-to-shoot mass ratio).
Permaculture Landscape Design: Blending Edibles with Ornamentals
For this permaculture landscape design, we incorporated many edible plants into the garden terraces: tomatoes, squash, blueberries, paw paws, hazelnuts, herbs…the sky is the limit! Just be sure to have an enclosed area to begin with, to limit deer browse and other unwanted wildlife munching on your hard work!
There are a few benefits to incorporating vegetables and edibles into your landscape. First, they can benefit from neighboring plants’ improving the soil. For example, some native perennials like Lupines and Baptisia are part of the legume family, meaning they fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil in a plant-available form. Vegetables will be happy with this highly accessible nutrient-dense soil.
Plus, the pollinators attracted to the native perennials and shrubs surrounding your edibles will be more likely to find and pollinate your edibles when they are incorporated into the garden bed. Finally, many herbs act as natural pest deterrent because of its strong fragrance. Incorporating herbs into your perennial garden will transfer some of this pest tolerance to your perennials. Likewise, there are perennials in the mint family, like Monarda and Salvia, that deter pests and deer with their scent. Locating these perennials next to your vegetables can help preserve your veggies.
Make the Permaculture Garden a Destination
Not only do the series of terraced garden walkways contribute to slope stabilization and erosion control, they also enhance the experience (and maintenance!) of the garden. We always try to incorporate pathways into our landscape designs for this is exact reason.
They encourage our clients to meander through their property, harvesting veggies or just noticing what’s newly in bloom, and be present in their natural oasis.
On this property, the hillside required a few staircases to connect the network of walkways. A circular flagstone patio in the center is the perfect perch to view the garden, the waterfall feature, and the Hudson River! Simply divine.
Thanks to Cooper Ponds for partnering with us and constructing the recirculating waterfall!
While this front yard, hillside permaculture landscape design may not be for everyone, this client was absolute thrilled with the outcome. In the words of her Google Review:
If you can afford the best, forget the rest. Jay Archer and the whole Green Jay team are the best contractors I’ve ever hired for anything in 22 years in Westchester…and I’ve hired many. From the first visit to the design presentation to plant selection to soil remediation to hardscape choices to planting, each stage was executed according to clear & transparent communication. How refreshing to work with folks who take their job seriously, are open to learning new things and love what they do. Every job will have some unexpected challenges but Jay, Lora, Uzi, Aztlan and the whole crew are responsive, thoughtful and nimble, calmly solving any glitch. Throughout the process communication was stellar, which is the key to success in every endeavor. The results were better than I could have hoped. Jay & Uzi took a neglected, steep, weed infested, post-home construction (debris-strewn) back yard and turned it into my dream permaculture food forest. Native flowers, shrubs and trees coexist between a series of switchback pathways that take advantage of the natural slope. Piece de resistance is the recirculating waterfall. It looks as if we have a stream running towards the Hudson River. The sound is magical. There are too many little details that coalesce to create this Hastings idyll to list but don’t take my word for it, ask the bees and birds and butterflies and worms. This land will continue to give nutrition and joy to all living things for decades. Now stop reading reviews, call your broker to sell some of that overvalued stock & go hire Green Jay Landscaping. For the kids.
–Joan D, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
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Green Jay Landscaping
Where Design Meets Ecology