7 Design Tips for a Beautiful Food Garden

Learn some quick tips to create a beautiful (and edible!) garden in a small space.

Credit: Flickr / Jeremiah Jacobs

Think you can’t grow a dazzling food garden unless you’re a professional? Think again

The following is an excerpt from Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Garden.

No matter what look you’re going for, a few key design principles can help you create a gorgeous edible garden.

edible garden design
The upright leaf form of alliums such as leeks provide good contrast to lower growing edibles with rounded or oblong leaves.
(Image: Jackie Connelly)

Design concepts

Repetition, contrast, balance and pattern: keep these concepts in mind when planning your informal garden.


Variety in plants

Aim for a variety of leaf shapes in your planting. Contrast crinkly leafed chard with ferny carrots.


Highlight the natural form

Think about plant form – for example, climbing, mounding or cascading. Visualize how these shapes will look together.



Use colourful varieties of edibles: bright, bold rhubarb; scarlet runner beans; and dusky purple cabbages.


Grouping similar plants

Dotting groups of similar plants throughout the garden ties the space together and creates a sense of harmony and balance, and contrasting forms, colours, and leaf shapes add interest.


More is better

Don’t take a one-here, one-there approach to planting. Place plants in odd-numbered groups or swaths for best impact.


Ordering by height

Taller plants should be at the back of your bed, unless you want them to shade shorter plants. That said, some variation is definitely appropriate – take too rigid an approach to height ordering, and your plants will look like they have lined up for a class photo.

More on small-space food gardens


Strong design in small-space gardens

Create a dazzling edible garden >

Zero-mile diet: ornamental edibles

Discover the joys of edible landscaping >

Edible hanging baskets

If you have a sunny balcony, you’re ready to grow a food garden >

Container gardening

Grow herbs and edible flowers in containers >