You’re figuring out when to plant each vegetable, which of the thousands of varieties of tomatoes you like best, and how to tell the difference between weeds and newly sprouted vegetables. Mastering the details of gardening keeps you busy for those first few years.
But once you settle into the practice of growing your own food, it’s time to delve into the art of it.
I firmly believe that vegetable gardens don’t have to be strictly utilitarian. You don’t have to shove it into the back corner of your yard. You can actually elevate it to be the centerpiece of your landscape.
At my house, my vegetable garden explodes from my front yard each season in a riot of color, texture, and life. My neighbors stop by often to tell me I have the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood.
Your vegetable garden doesn’t have to be simply a place to grow food to feed your body. You can also intentionally design a garden that grows plenty of beauty to feed your soul.
In this article, I’ll share five unique vegetable garden ideas you can employ to elevate your garden from ordinary to outstanding.
How a Beautiful Vegetable Garden Adds Joy to Your Life
Like most gardeners, I’m a highly visual person. I need to have beauty around me. It comforts me, inspires me, and lifts my spirits when I’m having a sad or stressful day. It’s what I feed on to survive.
In my home I surround myself with others’ artwork. I love bright colors, vegetable garden art (of course!), clean lines, and inspiring messages.
Outside my home I surround myself with my own artwork – my garden. I love to grow my own food, that’s a big part of the reason I have a vegetable garden. But, I also love the deep beauty and joy that having a garden brings to my life.
My garden is right outside my living room window and when I wake up in the morning I peek through the curtains to get a breakfast dose of visual garden candy.
It’s difficult to put into words the internal spiritual lift I get when I catch a glimpse of my garden. It’s like my heart pauses for a little back flip of joy.
My daily inspiration is found within that garden. Just a few minutes tying up tomato branches, deadheading flowers, or harvesting a brightly colored vegetable is enough to center and ground me.
My garden needs to produce a lot of food for my household. But I also want my garden to be beautiful. I want to walk out my back door and be overcome by the loveliness all around me.
Over the years I’ve learned it’s very possible to focus on both of these objectives at the same time. Why shouldn’t your garden feed both your body and your soul?
5 Unique Vegetable Garden Ideas to Try This Year
Create a permanent garden design
This year, take some time to design a permanent layout for your garden. This means laying out a design of garden beds and paths instead of just planting in a tilled up area in long rows.
You don’t necessarily have to build raised beds, but there should be some overall organizing structure to your garden. Create permanent beds out of lumber, logs, stones or mounds of your own soil.
You can keep your design simple, or harness your creativity and create a garden in the shape of a peace sign or mandala.
I like to view the beds and paths as the canvas of your garden. They’re the backbone that neatens up your design, add visual interest, and provide a set area where you’re going to use plants to paint an interesting design throughout the season.
In this article, I share how I designed and built my vegetable garden and outline three different options for garden beds: How to Make Easy Raised Beds for Your Vegetable Garden.
Express yourself through your garden
Think about how do you decorate the inside of your house. Do you have favorite colors, hobbies, or art that attracts you?
If so, how can you start to weave these symbols of personal expression into your garden to make it more “you”?
My favorite color is turquoise. I have an accent wall in my living room that’s painted this bold color. Turquoise can also be found throughout my house in pillows, rugs, art, and even my clothing!
When I built a wooden obelisk for my garden a few years ago, of course, I painted it turquoise. It now serve as a centerpiece of my front yard garden and I feel happy whenever its pop of color catches my eye.
We’re not talking about the tchotchkes available from any garden center or big box store. Think local artists and art fairs instead. Invest in a few quality pieces instead of lots of little things that crowd the garden.
Visit local art fairs in your area and specifically hunt for things for your garden.
I love ceramic and metal art. My yard features a ceramic bird house made by my neighbor and a totem I found at a local art fair. Over the years I’ve also picked up various metal trellises and small sculptures to add to my vegetable garden and the surrounding yard.
Made By You!
Maybe you’re an artist or craftperson! If so, you should definitely come up with some projects to add some of your own artistry to your garden.
I’ve dabbled in mosaic art over the years and one winter I committed some weeks to designing and creating a mosaic birdbath that lives in a different location each season and brightens up that corner of my yard with its sparkly mirror and blue glass.
I live in a cold climate, so at the end of the gardening season I pack my garden art away into the garage. It’s such a fun and uplifting spring ritual each spring to take it out, clean it, and decide where it’ll go that year. Things tend to move around my yard this way, which adds a layer of surprise for visitors.
This season express yourself by incorporating one of these three unique vegetable garden ideas – add art, a favorite color, or things you’ve created yourself.
Add Color with Flowers
The vegetable garden has a lot of green, which is a great color, but it can make the garden seem a bit one dimensional sometimes.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to add beauty to your vegetable garden is to mix in annual flowers. The vibrant pops of color catch peoples’ eyes and draw them (and you!) into your garden.
Personally, I reserve the ends and corners of my garden beds for a little color each season.
I pop in two to three of my favorite annuals at the edges of the beds and fill the rest with my vegetable plants. The play of flowers and vegetables together in a garden bed is a beautiful sight to behold!
My top picks for flowers for the vegetable garden are: zinnias, verbena bonariensis, rudbeckia, salvias and globe amaranth.
Read this post for more inspiration: How to Add Beauty to Your Garden with Flowers
Alternate your plantings within garden beds
If you have a lot of rectangular beds in your garden, instead of planting long rows down the length of the beds, consider planting in blocks.
You can plant along the width of the bed sometimes to create shorter rows of vegetables. The photos above is a great example of this. From left to right I have blocks of: salvia, eggplant, basil, cilantro and green onions.
See how much more interesting the bed looks than if it was three long rows of one of the vegetables?
If you’re ready for a more advanced tip, you can also pay special attention to contrasting leaf and plant shapes. I often place certain plants next to each other that I think will create interesting combinations.
This photo above illustrates this as well – all of the vegetables and herbs I planted in that bed have very different leaf shapes and textures. Side by side their visual contrast adds some interest that catches your eye and draws you deeper into the planting.
Before you plant a bed in your garden this year, take a step back and look at the vegetables you’re planting through this lens – how can you combine them to accentuate their different characteristics?
Choose colorful vegetables
Don’t just plant the regular garden variety (pun intended!) vegetables year after year – red tomatoes, green bush beans, white potatoes. There’s so much more out there!
If you love eggplant, skip the dark purple globe kind found in the grocery store. It’s so boring. Instead try the neon purple of Dancer, the bright orange of Turkish, or the white of Casper.
Instead of just growing orange carrots, add in some yellow and purple as well. Buy the three different seed packets and mix them into one sowing.
When shopping for seeds and plants seek out varieties that have interesting leaf colors or produce a shockingly bright vegetable. There are electric lavender eggplants, sunny yellow peppers, dark purple tomatillos, and every color of tomato you can imagine.
Search out unique and fun varieties of your favorite vegetables and experiment! You’ll be surprised by how much joy it brings.
Read more about some of my favorites here.
Additional Resources for Unique Vegetable Garden Ideas
Because I strive to have a gorgeous vegetable garden every season, I’ve written several articles sharing my best tips for adding color, beauty, and fun into your garden.
Design a Decorative Vegetable Garden with a Rainbow of Colorful Plants
Tips for Growing a Colorful Vegetable Garden
Adding Beauty to Your Garden With Flowers
How to Build an Easy & Beautiful Garden Trellis
I filmed this garden tour during the height of the season and focus on showing you how I artfully incorporate flowers into my vegetable garden design.
Focusing on the details of your vegetable garden this season is what will help you elevate it from utilitarian to a work of art to be proud of!
Don’t settle for a humdrum garden this season, strive to make it more fun, colorful and unique. Then watch how it adds a deeper sense of satisfaction and joyfulness to your life.
The post 4 Ways to Add Beauty to Your Vegetable Garden appeared first on Creative Vegetable Gardener.