I’ve been doing some research on plants as I work at my new landscaping job. The University of Florida is a good source for information on plants that work in warm climates. This publication on low-maintenance landscape plants for South Florida is better than I expected it would be, as it also contains a few fruit trees and a smattering of other edible species.
If you’re going to be putting in landscaping, why not make your landscaping pay you back for your hard work?
The front landscaping at my old place looked like normal landscaping, but most of it was edible or medicinal.
Yes, you can eat canna lilies. (NOT calla lilies! Don’t mix them up.)
The publication from UF covers a lot of species, many of which you might miss as edibles if you didn’t know what you were looking for. The Simpson stopper has decent edible fruit, as does the pindo palm and the natal plum, though they are rarely advertised as edible. Yaupon holly makes a great caffeinated tea as I relate in The Survival Gardener’s Guide to Growing Your Own Caffeine. Even many cacti have edible pads and fruit.
If you pick low-maintenance edible plants and add them to your landscaping, you will get paid back for the work you put in – and that work will be minimal. When I was in college I used to eat the fruit from a massive sea grape in the middle of campus. Free food and it was a beautiful tree.
You have to mow your lawn and trim hedges, rake up leaves and tend your flower garden. If you make sure those plants are also giving you something in return, it’s no longer just a loss of time.
Rosalind Creasy has the right idea:
First, go through lists of low-maintenance landscaping plants for your area, then figure out which ones are edible and useful. Alternately, ask your gardening friends which fruit trees and shrubs and berries are easiest to grow, then fit them into your yard.
Make your landscaping work for YOU!