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The front yard of this home has been turned into a productive and beautiful kitchen garden where edible ornamentals are grown both in the ground and in containers. Grace Design Associates in Santa Barbara, CA.

This sunny kitchen garden consists of multiple raised beds. Avant Garden in San Anselmo, CA.

Kitchen gardens are not a new idea - in fact they have been around for centuries. With the rise of sustainable and organic lifestyles as well as the desire to save money, the kitchen garden is in the middle of a major renaissance. It seems everyone has a kitchen garden, from the White House, to high end restaurants, and even Meryl Streep's character in It's Complicated.

Simply put, a kitchen garden, or potager (as the French call it), consists of herbs vegetables, fruits, perennials and shrubs. Differing from a regular vegetable garden, a kitchen garden combines function and aesthetics. Color and form are incredibly important when selecting what plants to grow and how to arrange them. Popular edible ornamentals include Swiss chard, kale, basil, squash and even peppers. Many kitchen gardens feature some type of an enclosure, whether this be a low wall or picket fence, in order to keep rabbits and other hungry animals out.

Keys to a successful kitchen garden:

  • Location, location, location - A kitchen garden needs plenty of sunshine and soil with good drainage. Also consider how the garden will be viewed from the rest of the yard as well as from inside your home.

  • Try raised beds - Growing vegetables and herbs in raised beds solves many problems. Drainage improves, pests such as gophers and rabbits can be kept away, and the plants are easier to access.

  • Companion planting - Growing a productive organic kitchen garden can be a challenge. Knowing which plants grow well together and which plants ward off insects is essential.

Kitchen garden design ideas:

  • Informal - Echoing the style of a cottage garden, herbs, vegetables, fruits, perennials and shrubs are grown in a seemingly unorganized fashion.

  • Four-Square Garden - This design features four distinct plots created by two paths that intersect at a ninety degree angle.

  • Patterned Garden - The various colors and textures of vegetables, herbs and fruits can be used to create a distinct pattern. Popular kitchen garden patterns include spiral, checkerboard, and wagon wheel.

Related Links

Small Vegetable Garden Ideas
Raised Bed Gardens
Get more Gardening Ideas

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