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Office of Sustainability and the Environment
Landscape Landscape

Guidelines for Sustainable Edible Landscaping

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  • Minimize water use by building up organic matter in the soil, applying 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around plants, and reducing the amount of time you hand water. Also, do not plant high water using crops like bananas, kiwis, and ginger.
  • All hoses should have an automated shut off nozzle and a hose bibb vacuum breaker.
  • Drip irrigation tubing emitters must not exceed 2 gallons per hour. Do not install multi-outlet drip emitters.
  • Make your own soil by building a compost bin or a worm bin. Make sure bins are rodent proof. Never compost meat or dairy products. Adding mycorrhizal inoculants, or beneficial soil fungi, to your soil can help make plants more drought tolerant and disease resistant.
  • Minimize chemical use by detecting plant disease and pest infestations early. Also choose disease resistant hybrids. Remove dead or diseased plant material. A blast of water may be sufficient to remove some pests. Identify and eliminate plants that are host to destructive insects, such as hibiscus. Create beneficial insect habitat with plants that have a lot of nectar or pollen, such as yarrow, lavender, sage or echinacea. Generally plants that get infested are stressed from environmental conditions, such as too much shade or a nutrient deficiency, so address these issues first.
  • Minimize weeding by mulching, or planting living groundcovers. Weed by hand or with a weeding tool.
  • Do not plant CAL-IPC listed invasive plants like castor beans, edible figs, fennel, fruiting olives, mullein, pennyroyal, plantain, morning glory, calla lily. Immediately remove invasive plants from the garden.

Less-Toxic Pest Management

Consult these City of Santa Monica produced fact sheets pdf covering Healthy Gardens, Lawn Care, Snails + Slugs, Aphids, Roses and Weeds.

Recommended Reading

  • Teaming with Microbes, A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web; Jeff Lowenfels
  • Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof
  • Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally - Robert Kourik
  • The Complete Book of Edible Landscaping - Rosalind Creasy
  • Gaia’s Garden – Toby Hemenway
  • The Garden Primer – Barbara Damrosch
  • Cornucopia II: A Source Book of Edible Plants - Stephen Facciola
  • Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's & Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding & Seed Saving - Carol Deppe
  • Good Bugs for Your Garden; Allison Mia Starcher
  • Chemical-Free Yard and Garden (Rodale’s); Anna Carr, Miranda Smith, Linda A. Gilkeson, Joseph Smillie, Bill Wolf





Last updated: Wednesday, 01/06/2016

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Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626