Create a Bayscape and Edible Bayscape Garden

The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy has developed conservation gardens since 2009 as part of watershed restoration projects.

Conservation gardens include rain, bayscape and edible bayscape gardens. These gardens are attractive, practical, and can be sized to fit any yard or landscape. Designed to mimic nature, these gardens are comprised of hardy regional plants that naturally provide food and habitat for species native to the Gunpowder watershed.

Conservation gardens are beautiful landscapes that mimic nature to protect our streams and the Chesapeake Bay. Bayscape gardens replace traditional lawns with native plants that support wildlife, reduce maintenance, and filter rain water from your yard, driveway, or other hard surfaces.

Click here to learn more about Rain Gardens.

Benefits of a Bayscape and Edible Bayscape Garden

  • Beautifies your yard
  • Reduces the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides
  • Reduces lawn and yard maintenance
  • Helps eliminate problems such as erosion, poor soils, steep slopes or poor drainage
  • Provides habitat for native wildlife, birds, butterflies and pollinators
  • Absorbs excess stormwater
  • Decreases your home’s energy usage with strategically placed trees and vines
  • Edible bayscape gardens provide fresh organic produce

Step-by-Step: Designing Bayscape Gardens

Step 1: Select a location

A properly placed bayscape garden can absorb rain water, maximize use of space, inhibit pests and weeds, beautify your yard, and conserve home energy. Keep in mind your property’s natural resources (sun, water, wind, soil, flora and fauna) and the needs of your plants. Consider a location where the garden can intercept water running off your lawn, driveway, patio or other hard surfaces. This can be below a downspout or simply an area of lowered elevation.

Step 2: Prepare your Soil

Native plants are indigenous to the Gunpowder watershed and grow naturally in this region. Therefore, there is little need for fertilizers or other additives to your soil. However, in order to promote healthy plant growth and drainage, you may need to add some compost. A layer of mulch will suppress weeds. Once you lay out your garden and have your soil prepared, it’s time to put in your plants.

Step 3: Install Plants

Suggested Native Plants:

  • Bergamot (Monarda bradburiana)
  • Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)
  • Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)
  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
  • Sweet pepper bush (Clethra alnifolia)
  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)
  • American holly (Ilex opaca)
  • Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • New England aster (Aster novae-angliae)
  • Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Joe-pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)
  • Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • River birch (Betula nigra)
  • Sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)
  • Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)
  • Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Suggested Edible Plants:

  • Garlic
  • A native “3 sisters” garden with beans, corn & squash
  • An herb “spiral” with culinary herbs
  • Dwarf peach
  • Dwarf apple
  • Hardy Fig
  • Alliums attract beneficial insects to fruit trees
  • Grapes
  • Dwarf Hazelnut
  • Ever-bearing Strawberry
  • Salad greens
  • Red onions
  • Blueberries
Step 4: Maintenance

Bayscape gardens need the most maintenance in the first year or two after planting. However, since native plants grow naturally in this area, expect to weed, mulch and water only occasionally. After a few years, the native plants have been established and your bayscape garden will not require much from you.

Edible bayscape gardens can be made up of native, edible plants, providing you with fresh herbs and fruits throughout the growing season.

Click here for a printable brochure on Bayscapes

Click here for a printable brochure on Edible Bayscapes

For more information, or to see if you are eligible for on-the-ground assistance, contact Darcy Herman, Clear Creeks Assistant Project Manager.