Consider turning your kitchen garden into a potager garden. A potager garden is planted for diversity and beauty that remains in the garden all year long. First, what is a potager garden? A potager garden is a French kitchen garden that is a vegetable garden that doubles as both ornamental and yield-producing and keeps giving for all seasons. So, how do you make a potager garden? When designing a potager garden, there are some elements to consider, such as focal points, lines, pathways, texture, color, and rhythm.
All of these considerations come together and provide beneficial opportunities for companion planting, visual interest, and variegation of foliage and blooms that are pleasing to the eye. Check out our tips for creating a masterpiece of a potager garden for year-round beauty and multi-season interest using our favorite landscape garden design ideas.
Landscape Garden Designs for a Potager Garden
Garden Focal Point
Start your garden planning with a focal point in mind. It can be anything from a cascade of beans like the red flowering ‘Scarlet Runner’ to an obelisk that supports a climbing favorite, an arbor loaded with clematis or climbing hydrangeas, a birdbath, a globe artichoke plant, or a sundial. You may even consider a fruit tree as your main attractive garden feature. Let your love of nature inspire your focal point in the garden. Make it unique and make it your own.
In landscape garden designs you want to use lines and pathways to direct the line of sight to the focal point of your garden. Essentially, you are building the focal point as the centerpiece of your work of art. Your garden pathways are also important for a functional kitchen garden. You want garden pathways that allow you to move freely through your garden, as well as enabling you to work around your plants. Be careful to space containers, raised beds, and even your in-ground plants so you are able to easily maintain your plants throughout the year.
Garden edging brings a garden together beautifully while also possibly creating barriers to keep pests out. Use boxwood hedges, flowering shrubs, or even compact plants like lettuces to create natural edges to your pathways or create borders with natural stone or garden edging. Boxwoods, manicured berry bushes, and other shrubs and perennials add a more permanent structure to the garden year-round than edges that contain annual vegetables and flowers. Add small fruit trees to the outer border of a potager garden for easier fruit garden harvest and additional structure.
Garden Design with Rythm in Mind
Obtain rhythm in a potager garden by utilizing the same plant varieties at varying intervals within the garden design. Plant smaller plants of herbs, vegetables, flowers and shrubs part from each other in a pattern of sorts, so instead of having one area of one herb or vegetable, you have many areas of the same herb segmented out throughout the garden space as accents or even as decorative and fragrant edging. This method is not only pleasing to the eye, but it also helps to protect your crops from destructive pests, confusing them a bit as they move from plant to plant.
Garden Color Selection
For an eye-catching garden, it is essential to incorporate color in your potager garden. Fortunately, there are endless varieties of plants that add color and drama to any garden. Consider using plants with contrasting colors on the color wheel for added visual interest. Blues and oranges, reds and greens, yellows, and purples pair up well together as they heighten the level of awareness of the plants’ unique and vibrant qualities. Ornamental plants really shine in a potager garden. Consider adding showy varieties of coneflowers like ‘Mandarin Double Scoop’ and ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ and calendula varieties such as ‘Bon Bon Yellow’ or ‘Citrus Cocktail.’ Pair them with vibrant blue cornflowers or purple splashes of lavender, clematis, allium, salvia, or wisteria.
Garden Plant Diversity and Texture
Plant intentionally, with not only the fruits and flowers in mind but also the textures, shapes, and even colors of the foliage. Adding diversity to the garden is not solely about the shape of your plants’ leaves, however. Try planting billowing leaves next to grassy or elongated leaves, and variegated leaves next to solid leaves and more erect plants along the side of weeping foliage. Evergreen shrubs and hedges provide multi-season color and help build the structure of your garden. Consider the varying heights of the plants that you select and arrange them in the garden varying the textures of the leaves as well as the shapes for a more defined
You can achieve added beauty and variegation to the garden by the manner in which you plant your plants. Use your imagination and create planting patterns; plant in rows, diagonals, zigzags, circles, or checkerboards. You can also mix up the shapes of your garden beds into circles, cross-shaped, L shaped, or triangular, rather than the traditional rectangle or square.
Garden Trellis & Vertical Structures
Don’t underestimate the power, space-saving, and eye-catching power of vertical structures in the garden. Vertical gardens not only add height and visual appeal to any garden, but they can showcase colorful climbing vines, help tame climbing vegetable plants, and help aid in harvesting.
Companion Planting in a Potager Garden
In addition to the visual interest, the variety encompassed in a potager garden has other great benefits. As you intermingle fruits, vegetables, flowers, and shrubs, the variety of plants can actually be beneficial to each other. A potager garden mimics nature in your garden in a more orderly fashion and can give your vegetables the best possible tools to grow when you implement companion planting. Companion planting is an excellent way to improve your garden’s health and fruitfulness. When you plant compatible plants near each other, they can mutually benefit from each other’s attributes. Planting different types of plants close to each other can boost growth, repel pests, and even improve the flavor of your harvest.
Some examples include:
- Beans, squash, and corn make great companion plants. Beans can use corn to climb on, and beans repay the corn by feeding the corn with nitrogen.
- Nasturtiums and marigolds are edible and great around all plants that deter a host of pests.
- Marigolds tend to repel Mexican bean beetles.
- Catnip repels flea beetles.
- A great tomato companion plant is basil. Basil improves the flavor of the tomatoes and deters aphids and other pests.
- Borage provides benefits to squash, strawberries, tomatoes by improving flavor and repelling tomato worms.
- Try companion planting with onions and mint varieties as they help fend off destructive garden bugs.
- Flax plants keep pests away from root vegetables due to the oils it produces.
- Garlic is a fabulous natural pest repellant around any plants.
- Lavender is full of color, but also keeps pests at bay.
- Cosmos flowers should be planted near your vegetable garden to attract beneficial bugs and insects, such as ladybugs.
- Coriander is terrific among carrots deterring the carrot fly.
Maintaining Your Potager Garden
The concept of a potager can seem daunting as plants grow or overgrow their spaces, and when harvest time arrives. Implement some of these tips and tricks for maintaining your potager garden and create a landscape garden design for year-round beauty.
- Aggressive herbaceous plants such as tansy and mint should be contained. Plant in containers, bury them in the ground, or accent the garden with herbs in containers so invasive herbs can’t take over.
- The same is true with perennials that spread. Keep aggressive spreading perennial plants at bay by planting metal barriers in the ground around the base of the perennial plant, so they don’t take over your design.
- Upon harvesting, gaps in the garden should be filled in with fast fillers. Some favorite rapid growers include alyssum, basil, chervil, bush beans, cress, lettuce, mustard, parsley, and savory.
- Potagers thrive on an annual rotation of crops for the best success. So, you can have fun each year implementing a varied design.