Forest Gardening

Forest gardening or agro forestry is a sustainable perennial system to grow food crops in a manner that mimics a deciduous forest. The plants grown are trees, shrubs and other perennials. Crops produced are edible and useful in other area of sustainable living. They include fruits, nuts, edible leaves for food, honey, medicinal products, baskets and fuel.

Forest gardening is a system of agriculture that has long been practised in tropical regions, but is a more recent introduction in temperate climates. One of the problems in temperate zones are the lower light levels as compared to that experienced near the equator in the tropical forests. This is particularly relevant for the ground hugging plants.

A forest garden is organised in up to seven layers: –

  • Canopy trees
  • Small trees and large shrubs
  • Shrubs
  • Herbaceous perennials
  • Ground covers
  • Climbers and vines
  • Root zone

Within these layers, the positioning of species depends on many variables. For example, their requirements for shelter, light, moisture, pollination, pest-protection.


Chartered Institute of Horticulture