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Edible Shrubs

Edible shrubs to include in your landscape

Curb appeal is important. A beautiful landscape really adds a lot to a home. But what if some of your landscape's foundation shrubs could be both beautiful and edible?
If you're interested in growing your own food using the space you have, it's worth taking a minute to consider swapping out some of your ornamentals for edibles. They are just as beautiful, with the added benefit of providing fruit. We've provided you with some tips and suggestions for choosing the right edible shrubs for your yard.
What to consider before you choose your edible shrubs:

What are the site's conditions? Does it get full sun? Full shade? Is it at the bottom of a hill, where water collects? Is the soil clay? You'll want to know where you want to plant the shrubs ahead of time so that you can match the plant's requirements with the site's specific conditions. Determine what cold-hardiness zone you're in ahead of time as well.
What is the shrub's purpose? Do you want to replace the boxwood in front of your house? Are you looking to create some privacy with a hedge? Or maybe you want to cover up an unsightly air conditioner unit? Different shrubs have different growth habits, so know what you're looking for before choosing your shrub.
Once you figure out what your site's conditions are and what purpose you want the edible shrubs to fill, you can start doing some research on edibles that fit your needs. From a design sense, don't shy away from mixing and matching ornamentals and edibles. Blueberries with evergreens in the background can be quite striking. Check out the list below for some ideas!

1. Blueberries
Blueberries can be difficult to grow. The key is amending your soil appropriately. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, blueberries prefer a more acidic soil with a pH between 4 and 5. They also prefer a loamy, well-drained soil. Blueberries come in three different habits: highbush (6 to 12 feet, or 1.8 to 3.7 m), lowbush (1 foot, or 0.3 m, sprawling ground cover) and hybrids (usually standing between 2 and 4 feet tall, 0.6 to 1.2 m). So blueberries can satisfy a place in the yard as a hedge, foundation shrub or a ground cover. Keep in mind that blueberries produce more fruit if you plant multiple varieties, due to cross-pollination. Blueberry Croft Farm and Nursery suggests trying Little Giant, a hybrid blueberry that grows to 4 feet (1.2 m) high and is said to have delicious berries that are great for baking.
2. Raspberries and blackberries
Raspberries and blackberries are great if you want a sort of informal hedge. They tolerate a variety of conditions and soil types and don't require mixing and matching varieties (like blueberries do) to increase harvest. Not to mention, according to the National Gardening Association, blackberries and raspberries start producing fruit in their second year and are fully productive by their third year. On the downside, they may need some extra wrangling as the suckers can really take off. They may also need some additional support structurally. Look for varieties, like the black raspberry pictured above, that don't spread as vigorously.
3. Currants
The National Gardening Association suggests currants as a great addition to the landscape. Currants are hardy in zones 3 to 8 and available in black, red and white varieties. Growing on average to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and wide with a fairly uniform habit, currants can be used as a part of your foundation planting, as a hedge or to hide something ugly (think electric box or air conditioner unit). And, a major plus, Tenth Acre Farm says currants are still very productive in a shady area. One of the best uses for currants is to make homemade jam.
4. Roses (for their rose hips)
Rose hips, which are the fruit of roses, are often used for jam, tea and beauty products such as lotions and creams. Since roses are already such a popular plant in the landscape, it's a bonus that they offer edible and medicinal value! The most popular variety for large rose hips is the Rosa rugosa. However, One Acre Farm cautions against using it, since it's not native to the United States and has a tendency to become invasive. Consider other species, such as Rosa carolina (pictured above) and Rosa virginiana. On the downside, given the thorns, rose hips are a little cumbersome to harvest. In addition, as the Missouri Botanical Garden points out, roses are susceptible to a number of diseases, including powdery mildew and black spot. But if you already love growing roses, why not plant varieties with useful fruit?
5. Nanking bush cherry (Prunus tomentosa)
Nanking bush cherry shrubs are large. The Missouri Botanical Garden lists them as 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m) both tall and wide. But they're uniform and beautiful and make a great hedge. They have showy white flowers in the spring and produce an abundance of small red fruit that's valued for jams and jellies. Missouri Botanical Garden notes P. tomentosa's hardiness all the way down to USDA zone 2, which is great news for northerners.