Landscaping a garden so that there is a separate area for vegetables is an aesthetic and practical choice rather than a horticultural one. Although there are benefits to having flowers and vegetables in the same area, benefits we’ll talk more about later on, not everyone wants to look out of their window onto barren rows of bamboo sticks in spring.
Practicality of Sheltering a Vegetable Plot
There is also a consideration for protecting vegetables from the worst of the wind and rain that’s so much a part of the kaleidoscope of weather we experience in the United Kingdom. If you have open areas in your garden, bordering the vegetable plot with a hedge, fence or wall will help keep as much of the crop in good shape as possible.
The classic Victorian kitchen garden took this principle to heart and many model farms, manor houses and vicarages had their red brick walled gardens that protected the serried ranks of parsnips, beans and peas from the wind and rain. You may not have the space for that but it is important when planning the landscape work in the garden to be aware that you might want to build some protection in.
Follow the Sun
It’s quite common for a garden landscape plan to separate the vegetables off at the end of the garden, using a wall, hedge or fence. This plan lends itself particularly well to the long narrow gardened that were popular with suburban houses built during the massive urban growth of the last century. It also keeps the prettier part of the garden close to the house.
But take a look at the direction of the garden and how the sun falls on various parts of it before assuming that the far end is the best place for the vegetable plot.
Putting Up a Wall
If you do decide to landscape the garden to provide a sheltered vegetable plot, try and pick out a material that will echo those around you. Don’t use Cotswolds stone if the houses around you are all red brick, for example. In terms of height you probably want to go for at least six feet.
Then if the orientation is right you can also use the wall to train plants on, vegetables one side, flowers the other. This gives a practical advantage and also softens the impact of the wall.
Trying a Fence or a Hedge
A hedge makes a good barrier although it won’t be any good for training green beans and the like. The other problem is that you may have to wait for a number for years before you have an attractive and good-looking barrier. But once full grown and dense it will give almost as much shelter from wind as a wall or a fence.
Fences are of course cheaper, easier and faster to erect than either a wall or a hedge which accounts for their popularity. But visually fences can be a bit brutal so try and match any surrounding fence styles and consider painting or staining it to help it fit in.
Don’t Rule Out Companion Planting
As we said at the beginning, there are actually several benefits to keeping flowers and plants together and this deserves a mention. This is known as ‘companion gardening’ and is built on sound principles. For example marigolds keep pests away from tomatoes, dead nettle fights off potato bugs and nasturtiums prevent aphids from getting a hold.
These are just a few examples, there are literally hundreds of others. So even if you do still separate your vegetable plot, either for aesthetic or practical reasons, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant rows of flowers next to the vegetables.