What was once a structureless, empty space is now an expansive outdoor dining area, a bounteous kitchen garden, and an idyllic woodland garden.
We are proud to announce the distinguished recognition of the design website houzz.com for best of in design category. Click on the image to see our houzz profile!
Elements of a Kitchen Garden
The basic elements of these gardens is simplicity, practicality, and productivity. A kitchen garden is the ultimate cooks' garden as well as a relaxing and beautiful space for all to enjoy.
By combining beauty and functionality, the kitchen garden is a great addition to any outdoor space.
Proximity to your residence is the first consideration when planning a kitchen garden. Whether it is formal or informal, the space needs an open route, like the conceptual plan above designed by The Aldrich Company for a residence in sunny Carpinteria.
The actual layout is usually a symetrical design, in order to improve accessability and productivity.
This particular layout makes the most of a rectangular space, with neat rows and a designated sitting and relaxing area to view the bounty.
The kitchen garden in this design by The Aldrich Company makes use of a gradual slope of an estate in Santa Barbara. A central pathway leads past rows of herbs, roses, and vegetables. The top tiers are planted with fruit trees, and the pathway ends under a Honeysuckle covered pergola.
Pathway material varies in kitchen gardens, depending on taste, availability, and funcionality. For instance, a garden in a zone with little rainfall should opt for materials other than lawn. Paths are for creating a network between beds as well as weed suppression. Below are four examples of common pathways: lawn, hardscape such as stone, mulch, and pea gravel.
A raised bed for your vegetables, herbs and fruits provides optimum soil health, as well as a weed and gopher barrier. It is easy to add certain amendments to a particular bed and improve overall soil drainage.
Excavate to a depth of 8" or more to allow more room for root growth. If gophers are a problem in your area, it is crucial to install gopher wire to deter them.
Materials for a raised bed vary, but perhaps the easiest is pressure treated wood like redwood. Other materials include stone and woven willow. Often the beds are lined with boxwood to add formality.
Prefabricated raised beds are a sensible solution to those living in small spaces. You can have a kitchen garden with tubs such as these or other plant containers.
Fences, trellises, arbors, pergolas, benches, obelisks, and support cages are basic structures in the kitchen garden.
Trellises support a variety of climbers and provide shade for heat intolerant vegetables.
Garden obelisks, or tuteurs, draw the eye upward and offer support to twining plants such as pole beans, sweet peas and cucumbers. These structures can also be built of metal or constructed of branches.
A good fence with a gate provides protection from deer, rabbits, raccoons, dogs, and other hungry creatures.
Pergolas, arbors, benches, and dining areas add to the appeal and beauty of a kitchen garden.
Care should be taken when deciding on what to plant. Plant vegetables, herbs, and fruits that you enjoy, and perhaps a few you haven't tried before. Depending on your zone, the best times for planting are when danger of frosts have passed.
Harvest and Enjoy!
The Aldrich Company offers design services and consultation to residents in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, and the Santa Ynez Valley. To contact, click on the link below.
The website Houzz has featured one of our designs on 'Backyard Dreaming: 13 Ways to Spark the Imagination' ideabook. Their staff hand picked the design to be a part of their editorial on creative design ideas, such as planting a variety of wildflowers in place of a traditional lawn. Check out the ideabook by clicking on the image!
There is a growing movement to replace traditional, thirsty, fertilizer-hungry lawns with native grasses, groundcovers, and 'meadow' mixes. Here we'll explore several options for replacing your lawn and making your garden more attractive and sustainable.
Meadow Mixes/Ecology Lawn
The right mixture of herbs and fine fescue makes a stunning display. The benefits of such a lawn is that it is beautiful, does not require mowing or only requires some mowing (once a month in summer), increases and enhances wildlife, it takes less water, it doesn't require fertilizer, and you and your family can still walk and play on it.
Yarrow (Alchillea millefolium) Lawn (All Zones)
Yarrow forms a beautiful green mat that looks and feels very soft. If you keep it mowed regularly, it won't be able to flower, but it does make a stunning, prairie-like display in the warmer months. It remains green and lush with heavy foot traffic and little watering. It is a tough, versatile plant that keeps out the weeds and endures the heat.
Carex Lawns (zones 4-9, 14-24)
These are drought tolerant grasses that can look splendid all year round. Some of the grasses might go dormant in the summer without some supplemental watering, but the good news is that these mixes take about 70% less water than traditional lawns.
Light Traffic Alternate Groundcovers
Or ditch a uniform cover and opt for a beautiful mix of drought tolerant grasses, shrubs, and trees like The Aldrich Company's design here. Click on the picture for more design ideas!
Water-Wise California Native Plants
California is a diverse state rich in many different plants and habitats. Much of the state is dry--from the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Foothills down to the coastal bluffs and chapparal of the coast. The plants that thrive here are beautiful and tough. By utilizing natives, specifically drought-tolerant natives, we can conserve water, energy, and create beautiful and sustainable landscapes.
Note: all zones refer to Sunset Western garden zones
Perennials and Shrubs