Potager Garden Design: Basics & Benefits of Ornamental Kitchen Gardens

Time to add a potager garden to your landscape!? Here are the potager garden design resources to give you a head start with your ornamental, edible kitchen garden.

Potager garden design is the traditional art of arranging plants grown for food in an ornamental manner. Typically, potager gardens are designed in a French country style with plants in neat rows that form geometric shapes. Most potager gardens have short raised garden beds separated by paths made of pea gravel or paving stones. These idyllic kitchen gardens combine beauty and practicality to create a wonderfully productive garden.

Your potager will be more than just a vegetable garden. It will also be your herb garden and fruit garden! Here’s how to design a potager garden that suits your lifestyle. Let’s dig in! :)

Potager with Greenhouse

Potager Gardens in the Home Landscape

Growing your own food in a potager kitchen garden is such a wonderful way to learn how to start a vegetable garden. Whether you’re growing vegetables in containers on the patio or in a backyard home vegetable garden, it will help you connect with your food in a way that buying it at the store just can’t do. Here’s how to get started with your potager garden.

Potager Garden Design with Veggies and Flowers growing in straight rows
Potager Garden Rows

Designing Your Own Potager Garden

Design is an important part of a potager. The design should not only be aesthetically pleasing to the gardener but should also be convenient for the chef to harvest from.

Many potager gardens are well defined by perimeter hardscaping. Hardscaping refers to all the non-plant parts of the garden that are constructed, including walls, paths, trellises, and patios. Growing areas are often in raised beds or slightly raised mounds to get the plants up off ground level. The perimeter of the growing area may be edged with wooden boards, bricks, river rocks, or formal stonework.

Paths are used heavily in potager garden design. Paths between growing areas are often made of durable surfaces such as crushed rocks or gravel. The passageways and growing areas of potager gardens are often arranged in a pattern that looks interesting from an aerial point of view.

Also, take advantage of the natural structure of the garden. The shape of the area, surrounding buildings, large trees, and other permanent fixtures should be considered when designing your garden layout.

Large Formal Potager Garden with Boxwood Hedges

Designing a potager takes some planning. Start by checking out this gallery of potager images to get some inspiration. Then move on to creating your garden plan (grab your free garden planner here). The tips below for growing vegetables, herbs, and fruit in your potager will help you to make your design a success!

“Regardless of style, all well-designed gardens make use of three essential principles – balance, proportion, and repetition – to blend the various parts of the garden into a harmonious whole. Even if your entire gardening effort is focused on edible crops, you can incorporate basic design principles to create a productive and visually attractive garden.”

Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden, by Deborah L. Martin
Potager Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Gardening in the Potager

Vegetables are the foundation crops of potager garden design. Choose veggies you love to eat as your vegetable garden crops. Grow your favorite salad greens or smoothie ingredients. Pick veggies your family will eat. Grow edible flowers! If you grow vegetables you love, you’re a lot more likely to stick with the whole vegetable garden thing.

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

If you’d like to start with a few common vegetables, here are some easy crops perfect for vegetable gardening for beginners:

Growing Vegetables in Containers

You don’t need a yard to grow a garden! It’s just as much fun growing vegetables in containers. If you’re living somewhere without a yard, or it’s too cold to grow anything outdoors right now, check out this post to get started:

Growing microgreens is the perfect way to get started gardening if you don’t have very much growing experience. It’ll teach you how seeds germinate and sprout, helping you build confidence for when you grow full-size plants! Growing microgreens is the perfect way to start growing vegetables in containers.

Potager Garden with Scarecrow

Planning for Herb Gardening in Your Potager

The culinary herb garden is another key part of the potager. A good potager is filled with fresh organic herbs that complement the vegetables in the garden as well as favorite family recipes. Try these herb garden projects to grow your own culinary herbs!

Herb Plants for the Potager Garden

There are numerous herb plants to add to your herb garden. Some are common culinary herbs that can be picked up as fully-grown herb plants at the grocery store. Others are a bit harder to find and must be grown from seed.

Here is a big list of common culinary herb plants and their preferred growing conditions.

One of my favorite herb plants to grow is garlic! Garlic can be grown from plump organic garlic cloves from the grocery store. Here’s how you do it:

Homegrown organic garlic is one of the most rewarding herb plants to grow! Plus, homegrown garlic makes the best garlic powder. Who knew?

red alpine strawberry being picked from a potager kitchen garden surrounded by green leaves

Fruit Garden

Fruit gardens are so much fun! Most fruit gardens focus on delicious perennial plants that produce yummy fruit year after year. It may take a few years for plants to become established, but once they do, you’ll be SO glad you planted them. Here are a few ways to get your fruit garden started:

Fruit Trees for the Edible Garden

Fruit trees are under-utilized in urban settings and potager plots. There are fruits that will grow easily in most temperate climates and environmental conditions. Where I live, plum and apple trees grow wild!

What kind of fruit trees love growing in your climate? Do some research about fruiting trees that grow well where you live. A nice fruit tree or two can provide a year-round focal point in your potager garden design, while also creating an abundance of sweet fruit once each year.

Berries for Edible Gardens

While you’re planting fruit, why not try growing some berries in your fruit garden? Both strawberries and blueberries are small plants that are easy to tuck into the potager garden. Every year I am so glad that I have strawberries to snack on!

Potager Garden with Raised Beds on Slope

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