Planning and Planting a Home Garden Berry Patch

Berries ripening in the garden

Is there anything tastier than a freshly picked berry? I have to confess, berries are one of my edible garden favourites. Let’s dig into ideas and tips for planning a berry patch for your garden. Short on space? Patio garden? Balcony? Window box? Luckily, there’s a suitable berry plant for most garden conditions and spaces, even the tiny ones. Big or small, bring on the berries! 

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Fun Facts!

Did you know that, from a botanical perspective, boysenberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries aren’t actually berries at all? True berries are simple fruits from one flower with one ovary (the fleshy fruity part) containing seed. But these so-called berries make multiple seed-bearing ovaries from one flower. Botanically, this makes them accessory fruits (singles like strawberries) or aggregate fruits (clumps like raspberries). On the flip side, this also means that fruits like oranges, kumquats, tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkins, bananas, grapes, and avocados are technically berries. Berry mind boggling! Call them what you want – they’re all still delicious!

Dalmatian dog sniffing handful of ripe strawberries

What Berries Do You LOVE to eat?

Grow Your Favourites

When selecting berries or any other edibles for your garden, one of the best places to start a wish list is with what you like to eat.  Yes. I just said it yet again! So, what types of berries do you and your family enjoy the most? How much is enough (or too much) for your household? 

Why waste your money, space, time, energy, etc. growing things you don’t enjoy if you could be  growing something that you’d love to eat?  Start by thinking about your favourite berries.

Experiment with Different Varieties

If you’re feeling adventurous and conditions allow, it’s fun to grow types and varieties of berries and other edibles that aren’t readily available commercially. This is especially nice if, like us, you live in an area where lots of different edibles are grown. When locally grown berries are in season, the common varieties are usually available for purchase and can be relatively inexpensive compared to specialty varieties. If you can find specialty varieties for sale at all. 

But even with the common varieties of berries, growing your own can still be a great money saver, and freshly picked berries are hard to beat.

Reduce You Exposure to Chemical Reside

If you’re concerned about sprays, some berries are more prone to commercial chemicals and pesticides than others. If this is a concern for you and your family, you might want to grow your favourites at home where you can control how they’re grown and treated.

Common favourites, like strawberries and blueberries, often make the residue dirty lists. But strawberries are easy to grow, compact, and happy in pots for small spaces. You can easily propagate strawberries from runners to expand your berry patch for free, too! Blueberry bushes need more space or a bigger pot, but are also fairly easy going plants. They’re a little tricker to propagate, but you can try your luck with cuttings. 

Of course, there is often a reason why commercial growers turn to sprays. Bugs, birds, and other garden wildlife love berries, too. But it’s nice to try and keep your garden healthy without using harmful pest controls, if possible, and the bees will thank you. In addition to fending off the bad bugs, you may need to net for birds if you’re not keen to share. Although I haven’t found a net quite big enough for these foraging black and white spotted berry birds! Haha!

Berry Patch Planning Favourites Wish List
  • What berries do you and your family love the most?
  • What berries are grown in your local area? What are the availability and in-season prices like?
  • Are there any less-common varieties of your favourite berries that might be fun to try? 
  • Are you concerned about the chemicals used on the berries you buy? If so, are any of your favourites hard to find (or extra expensive) as spray-free or organic produce?

We can all dream of a big garden filled with all our favourites, right? Berries are no exception. But it might be a tight squeeze to fit your dreams into your space, or not suit the local climate to plant some of your favourites. Start with the wishlist and, from there, reality will help adjust those dreams into a practical plan for what could be grown in the conditions and spaces available. 

Two Dalmatian dogs sniffing strawberry plants in garden

Growing Conditions and Available Space

From your dream wish list, the practicalities of space, climate, cost, etc. will help you select which plants from your berry garden wish list you could try growing in your home garden.

Growing Conditions

Room to grow a limiting factor for most home gardeners when planning. Considerations include mature height, width, and root behaviour. Many berries are fairly low maintenance; however, rambling raspberry, blackberry, loganberry, and boysenberry brambles benefit from support frames and training/pruning to keep them in check, and beware of invasive suckering roots. In our experience, even “minimally invasive” brambles have been a pain to keep under control.

Many berries prefer to be planted in full sun for best yield and flavour, but some varieties are more tolerant than others. The great news is that, unlike many fruit trees, lower growing berries are often subjected to shade in their natural environments and can still do well in semi-shaded berry patches. We have lots that are happily growing in shadier areas of our garden.

Some berries have specific soil preferences, like acid lowing blueberries and cranberries, and are best grown alone or with like-minded plants. It’s helpful to group plants that require similar soil, but also similar watering and feeding. It will help them all stay happy in their conditions, and help to streamline your garden chores, companion planting in its simplest form.

Be aware of local pests and diseases that might impact the health of your plants or quality of your berries. This is especially important if you want to grow organically or prefer to avoid spraying. Bugs love berries, unfortunately. And birds are fierce raiders, and netting can be an ugly but effective way to protect your harvest. Consider your options and personal preferences for care before making final decisions on what types of berries to buy and where to plant them. 

Small Space Berry Patches

Many berries grow well in container gardens or pots, so they’re a great addition to the home garden not matter how small your available growing space. In terms of yield for space occupied, strawberries are on the best growing options.

Many berries are self-fertile, but cropping is often improved by having plants for cross-pollination. If you’re short on space and trying to squeeze in as many different berries as possible, look for fully self-fertile options. As an example, many varieties of blueberry either need a pollinator or do better with other plants for improved pollination.

Berries for Landscaping Double Duty

Do you need to plant for both form and (delicious) function? Berries can be productive but pretty landscape plants if you pick the right plant for the right place. Some are rambling, prickly, deciduous, or all of the above – tasty yes, but not always pretty. Others, like Chilean guava (aka New Zealand cranberry or bush cranberry) and some blueberries are evergreen, and can even be pruned as informal hedging and good-looking general garden specimens. 

Strawberries are low growing and can make a pretty addition to mixed beds. Some varieties will even spread (if you allow them) into a flowering and fruiting groundcover. Awesome for double-duty use of space. Depending on where you live, there are varieties that crop at different times or multiple times in a growing season, and in our temperate climate, the leaves are evergreen. 

I have strawberries and carpet thyme co-planted as groundcover under our feijoa hedge, and the birds seem to prefer the pretty red feijoa flowers to pillaging the early strawberries. A companion planting surprise win! I’ve since started planting strawberries under our citrus trees as well, and they’re thriving. Although the dogs usually beat me and the birds to these haha…

Berry Patch Planning Garden Conditions and Considerations
  • How much room do you have for growing berries? Which of your favourites might fit?
  • What’s the growing climate in your area? What berries can be grown in that climate?
  • What’s the aspect like in your growing space? What types of berries thrive in those conditions? If the conditions aren’t ideal or your favourites won’t grow in your space/climate, are there any other types of berries that you like that might be tolerant?
  • Are there pests or diseases that might need to be considered when you’re selecting plants?
  • Do you have room for cross-pollinators, if needed? Do you enjoy those berries enough to occupy that space, or might other types of berries be a better fit (literally) in your garden?
  • Do you need to find plant options that will do double duty in your landscaping?

With a preference to planting your favourite berries, where possible, putting your dream wish list through the reality checks for your own specific space and conditions will help you to create your berry patch plan. Then it’s on to the work of planting, growing, and snacking on your rewards. 

Even with a great starting plan for your berry patch, things will likely change over time. Not everything always goes or grows to plan when we’re gardening. Your garden will continue to change and evolve as you discover what thrives, what doesn’t, and perhaps as favourites change with time. Happy berry patch planning, planting, and (hopefully!) eating, fellow berry lovers.

Berries growing and ripening on bramble canes

Berry Patch Planning and Planting Idea Sheet

The follow-on infographic idea sheet was created years ago, long before Green in Real Life transitioned from Blogger’s blogspot to our home here at greeninreallife.com. The branding and design are outdated, but good ideas are always in fashion, so we’ve kept it with our berry garden planning post so that readers can still revisit an old fav or stumble across it for the first time.

Home garden berry patch planting ideas
Planning and Planting a Home Garden Berry Patch

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