A Hedgerow for Color
Often hedgerows are made up of a single type of shrub like privet or yew. An edible hedge row has a mix of plants that produce edible fruits and nuts. An edible hedgerow can offer flowers, edible fruits and nuts, and fall color. Edible hedge rows can be used as a privacy screen or as a border between different parts of the yard. Decide how tall you want your hedge to be before choosing what plants to include. You might have a mix of shrubs and small trees or just a row of mixed shrubs.
Small Trees and Tall Shrubs
Serviceberry or Juneberry, beach plum, and viburnums will grow as small trees or tall shrubs. Serviceberry is one of the first trees to flower in spring and its delicious small dark blue fruits ripen in June. Eat them right off the tree or use them as a substitute for blueberries. Beach plums ripen in mid-summer and you can eat them raw or use them to make jam. Several native viburnums offer edible fruits including nannyberry or wild raisin, and highbush cranberry. Viburnums have three-season interest with their spring clusters of white flowers, colorful fruits and great fall color.
Medium Height Shrubs
Chokeberries, blueberries, elderberries and hazelnuts grow as medium height shrubs. Chokeberries may not sound appetizing, but cooked with sugar they make a tasty jam full of antioxidants. You can find red and black chokeberries. Both have white flowers in spring and the leaves turn red in fall. Everyone loves blueberries and the shrubs have a neat appearance. They do require acidic, well-drained soils and plenty of moisture. You can help these shrubs get the moisture they need by planting them in Miracle-Gro® Moisture Control™ Garden Soil. Elderberries grow as a loose shrub with big masses of flowers and small dark purple fruits. Both elderberry fruits and flowers are edible once cooked. Hazelnuts ripen in fall and provide delicious nuts that can be used in a wide range of dishes.
Raspberries and Blackberries
Allegheny blackberries and black raspberries are native to the mid-Atlantic region. They can be incorporated into a hedge, but will need more maintenance. Some canes will die each year and will need to be removed to keep the hedge looking neat. Blackberries and raspberries can also be grown on a trellis to make harvesting the fruit easier.
Article by Sylvan Kaufman. Dr. Kaufman is a writer of popular scientific and gardening articles. She is also an ecological consultant.