• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

FLAT landscape, Cooling Microclimate and what to do first  RSS feed

 
Holly Brown
Posts: 10
Location: Palm Beach County
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I am a complete newbie who just found out about permaculture (via understanding peak oil, etc at the Crash Course, and then finding Transition) and only recently joined up. I am making my way through gaia's garden but am not quite done yet. So, naturally my first feelings are kind of gung ho, and I would like to do stuff. So far, I have found a supplier of local free mulch and can get free compost at my SWA and I have been stocking up on these as I can. I also found a local source for granite, marble, limestone dust. These are all great and encouraging, BUT the really exciting aspect of design in permaculture is where I really would like to do something but am a bit intimidated about what to do.

The most exciting thing I learned initially in Gaia's Garden was the concept of capturing and storing water in my landscape with swales. I live in SE Florida (Palm Beach Cty) and have less than a 1/4 acre on a city lot with very sandy soil and a FLAT yard. The only slope is the swales are sloped a bit to run water into the street (naturally something I want to stop, without getting cited by the city for digging up the swales too much! Also, there is a VERY slight gradation of the lawn toward the house. I don't want this to prevent me from capturing water, but am rather at a loss as to where to start here. Do I plan a trench around the perimeter of the yard to keep water from going out? Or do I do some type of fish scale swales contoured according to existing trees or planned trees?

Okay, now for my real conundrum. I want to create a REALLY cool micro-climate for my yard. This is South Florida, so right now it is gorgeous, but I do currently run the AC for about 6-7 months out of the year to combat the humidity and heat. Obviously this is not desirable. We already have a few mid-size trees and two large trees established in the yard, plus a few of newer small trees. I was wondering if since you could create "heat traps" with "U" shaped planting arrangement of trees, would that also work in reverse? For example, if the bottom of the "U" faced south, around the house would that help to block out the heat? If so, wouldn't that require many years of growth to get the needed height and shade casting? Is there anything else (relatively easy) I can do in the shorter term to cool my yard, and therefore my house?

Finally, would a strategy of planting lots of different legumes around the yard and encircling my existing trees be a viable first thing to do while figuring out my long-term design and saving up to buy my various fruit trees, etc? Would there by anything I should be aware of before doing this. (Although, admittedly I already threw quite a few under my low-producing tangerine the other day--black eyed peas, kidney beans, green "split" peas, cow peas..)

Thanks for any advice!

Holly Brown
 
Toby Hemenway
author
Posts: 105
22
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Holly, you're thinking in the right direction. Keep the water from leaving your yard. I assume that things can get dry between rains, even though you may get a fair amount of rain. Create shade, create shade, create shade. Mulch like mad. Don't worry too much about swales unless you are seeing serious runoff during storms. A trench around your property may make sense, just don't flood yourself. Build organic matter and get roots into the soil. There was another thread--sorry that I can't find it--about staying cool in FL, too. Your reverse suntraps are a good idea, but make them permeable to any cooling winds; you want both shade and ventilation. Try to have light-colored landscape features, not many big dark rocks and things to accumulate heat.

Yes, planting legumes as well as mulch and humus (big root system) plants while other stuff is growing is a good idea. Turn your yard into a living sponge. Good luck.
 
Holly Brown
Posts: 10
Location: Palm Beach County
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks so much! This is just what I needed to hear--no major errors in thinking and encouragement. Your right about the dryness -- I have noticed a major drop in our seasonal 3pm rains that I grew up with down here. We are often on water restrictions. Very sad, as I have really fond memories of those...and it worries me.

I was actually just thinking of the ventilation aspect yesterday while standing under our akee tree and feeling the breeze. We had just cut off many low-hanging branches a couple weeks back to clear room for my laundry line, and that plus a bit of other cutting back had really improved the ventilation in our fenced-in backyard.

Paul- you would be glad to hear that after viewing your hugelkulture page a few days back, my husband started one with a bunch of dried palm fronds, those akee branches and some other brush he had pruned. Now I just have to haul in a LOT of dirt to get it going! Thanks again to both of you gentlemen, I am looking forward to seeing what I can learn from observation and practice in this first year of my permaculture adventure. ~ Holly
 
Don't mess with me you fool! I'm cooking with gas! Here, read this tiny ad:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!