Suzanne's Tips on Edible Borders in Gardens

I was out in my kitchen garden a few weeks ago to visit my floribunda hybrid rose trees which are pruned into a ball shape on the top. I have a love/hate relationship with them. (They’re nothing like my carefree heirloom roses! See my previous blog.)

For the second year in a row, two of the four trees didn’t survive the winter and seeing how I have a geometric garden, I sighed as I realized, that yes, I was going to be digging up rose trees again.

Beneath these four rose trees, I had planted strawberry plants to fill out each section of the raised bed. The strawberries were totally thriving, but even the surviving rose trees were already exhibiting black spot and would definitely be sprayed this year with fungicide.

This left me with the dilemma of not wanting edible plants underneath a tree which could be sprayed with chemicals. Yes, the strawberries would need to be moved.

I looked around the garden and realized they would be perfect as a border to my flowers!


This is a great example of how edible landscaping can be brought into your garden.

An Idea is Born: Creating Edible Borders in your Garden

There are many plants which make extremely colorful and attractive borders.

  • Herbs are an awesome choice. Sage, basil, oregano, chives (look at those beautiful blooms on the chives below!), parsley, spearmint and bee balm all bring visual interest, lots of flavor and amazing scents! Plant just one type, such as green leafed basil for a more formal look or mix it up, alternating colors and textures for a cottage look. The variations are endless.


  • Add in edible flowers and the list of choices grow. Hostas, daylilies, nasturtiums and violas are all flowers now being served in salads in upscale restaurants. They can make it to your dinner table too!
  • Be adventurous with vegetables and really pack a punch. Bush beans, carrots, bush cherries and garden patio size blueberry bushes.
  • Even lettuce can be used for borders. Loose leaf lettuce such as mesclun can be planted, cut and then if left and watered, will come back again for a second, even third crop. It’s called “cut and come again”.

How to boost the success rate of your edible border?

  • Take into consideration light requirements for your plant choices and if the plant is an annual (needs to be planted every year) or a perennial (comes back every year).
  • Also, consider the mature size of each plant and how much watering/maintenance is involved.


  • Last but not least, remember if you like to eat it, animals do too! Herbs are pretty safe outside a fence but strawberries and lettuce definitely need protection from hungry grazers.

So if you’re up to the challenge and don’t mind a little experimentation, an edible border may be a fun weekend project that brings beauty and bounty to your garden.

There’s nothing like getting beauty and food all rolled into one!

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