Foodscaping With Natural Systems


I’ve been experimenting with the limits of foodscaping.

My goal is to convert my entire yard into a bountiful source of delicious food for the coming decades.  Of course, I want to accomplish this in a way that increases its potential for success by minimizing the work and expense required to maintain it.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to think in terms of systems.  It’s the same whether you are planning a special ops mission with Seal Team 6 or building a successful company that will be worth billions (I’ve done both).   A systems approach makes it possible to turn success into something that is routine and easy to accomplish.

In terms of foodscaping, this means working with natural systems.  Here’s a small example of what I mean.

I’ve been planting blueberry bushes since they love acidic soil and I have lots of it. I could have simply stuck the bushes in the ground, but instead, I’ve put a few systems in place to increase their potential to produce.  A little work upfront should pay off over the long-term.

Here’s a picture from my phone.


The blue arrow points to the blueberry bush (I bought small, inexpensive bushes).  The other arrows point to the components of my blueberry system:

  • White arrow.  A rock-lined drainage system.
  • Purple arrow.  Wood-chip mulch above and below a layer of soil composed of compost and peat moss.
  • Red arrow.  A large flat stone above the rootball. This moderates and warms the soil below.
  • Yellow arrow.  A small, mulched hillock on the north side to block cold northern winds and trap moisture.

This is just one small part of the bigger system I’m working on.


I’m learning more every day as I meet more of the experts working on the edge of what’s possible.  Are you using systems to foodscape?  If so, what do they do?

Sincerely Yours,



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  • sue

    Fab diagram :-)

  • Jim Dauster

    Does your soil get super super saturated? (Why would blueberries need a drainage basin behind it?

    • John Robb

      Jim, Yes. JR

  • Stephen Clay McGehee

    I just finished uploading a post about a local business that has replaced their landscaping plants with a vegetable garden. I love the idea of using even small plots of land to grow vegetables. Thanks for promoting resilient communities!

  • Drew

    Hi John,

    What do you think is the best way to start growing food? Any particular methods you think are best suited for absolute beginners with zero gardening experience?

    Any advice is appreciated,


  • Vicki

    I’ve been reading your blog and newsletter for a while. I’ve planted a papaya tree (sharing lots of fruit on my street with neighbors), a banana tree, lots of basil and rosemary, tomatoes, cucumbers and next up: a dwarf orange tree.

    There are so many things I can grow here but the seasons can be harsh. We’re in zone 10, the subtropics, so while I could grow plenty of citrus trees, I don’t really have room for them on my small lot. So I’ve started looking at dwarf trees and think this may be the way for me to start creating a resilient home.

    I love your blog and am looking forward to buying a rain barrel, several mobile vegetable bins and other dwarf citrus trees. I also hope to learn more about solar panels since we live in the subtropics. If we can’t harness the sun’s power, who can?

  • Art Simpson

    Hey Drew,

    Aquaponics. Check out the web and Murray Hallem sites. 3 acres will grow 1,000,000 pounds of fish & veggies. One small yard will grow enough for a family easily.

    Bury a new septic tank under the yard and store rain water. i have a 4,000 gal. catchment system this way underground. Use a hand pump or electric.

    Study & learn. You can do it. Art