Functional Landscapes: Planting for Purpose & Function

Functional Landscapes: Planting for Purpose & Function

Trent Johnson
Aug 20, 2008

Choosing plants for more than how they look can add function to an already beautiful landscape or garden deck - and what's more green than something that has multiple functions! For example, did you know that lavender, basil & garlic not only repel insect pests but can also be used in food and home products? Check below the jump for some other functional plants!

We recently posted on a natural mosquito repellent, Catnip, which can be planted in any garden and eventually harvested to create your own bug spray. Below are some other plants that can be used for more than just a pretty landscape.

Edible Plants
By far my favorite type of plant, adding herbs or fruit trees & bushes to landscape makes gardening fun and functional. Consider planting fruit trees instead of crabapples, herbs instead of small hornamentals, and strawberries instead of junipers, liriope, or cotoneaster for ground cover. Substitute blueberry bushes for hedges and enjoy a bounty of delicious berries.

Plants to Deter Insect Pests:
Integrating some of these plants into your garden will naturally repel some unwanted garden pests (from ehow):


  • Lavender

  • Basil

  • Garlic

  • Sweet woodruff

  • Thyme

  • Catnip

  • Mint

  • Rue

  • Tansy

  • Artemesia

  • Feverfew

Plants to Deter Unwanted Cats
From about.com


  • Rue

  • Lavender, which deer pests also dislike

  • Pennyroyal


Sometimes to remove unwanted pests, it's best to create a garden that welcomes predators of those pests. Below are two charts from Grinning Planet, one that lists predators of common insect pests and the second, what to plant to attract the beneficial insects:

Insect, Predator

Aphids, Aphidius
Aphids, Aphidoletes
Eggs of many pest insects, Damsel bugs (Nabidae)
Whiteflies, aphids, thrip, spider mites, Dicyphus
Slugs, small caterpillars and grubs, Ground beetles
Grubs, Spring Tiphia wasp
Aphids, mealybugs and others, Hoverflies
Scale, aphids, mites, soft-bodied insects, Lacewings
Aphids, mites, Ladybugs
Thrips, aphids, mites, scales, whiteflies, Pirate bugs
Caterpillars; beetle and fly larvae, Tachinid flies
Whiteflies; moth, beetle and fly larvae, Parasitic wasps

Predator Insect(s) - What to Plant (Insectary Plant)
Lacewings, aphidius, ladybugs - Achillea filipendulina
Hoverflies - Alyssum
Ground beetles - Amaranthus
Spring Tiphia wasp - Peonies, firethorn, forsythia
Ichneumon wasp, ladybugs, lacewings - Anethum graveolens (dill)
Lacewings- Angelica gigas
Ladybugs, hoverflies - Convolvulus minor
Hoverflies, parasitic wasps, lacewings - Cosmos bipinnatus
Dicyphus - Digitalis
Lacewings, ladybugs, hoverflies - Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace)
Damsel bugs, ladybugs, lacewings - Foeniculum vulgare (fennel)
Pirate bugs, beneficial mites - Helianthus annulus
Hoverflies - Iberis umbellata
Hoverflies, parasitic wasps - Limonium latifolium (Statice)
Aphidius, aphidoletes, hoverflies - Lupin
Parasitic wasps, tachinid flies - Melissa officinalis (lemon balm)
Parasitic wasps, hoverflies, tachinid flies - Petroselinum crispum (parsley)
Pirate bugs, beneficial mites - Shasta daisy
Pirate bugs, aphidius - Sunflowers
Ladybugs, lacewings - Tanacetum vulgare (tansy)
Dicyphus - Verbascum thaspus

Front image from BallymaloeCookerySchool

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