I have read a few books on Permaculture and I'd like your help and ideas on what I can do with my land. I live on 1.8 acres right next to a good size hill, in a valley, on a slope at 4500 ft in Zone 5 or 6 depending on the year. The yard has a bunch of weeds/ sage brush and very little has been done to improve the yard. I have a fence on the west and east side, but nothing on the front or back. Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like. See attachments.
Here are a few facts about the yard that I learned from neighbors, previous owner.
-Land slopes toward house and has had leaking in basement due to snow melt, rain run off-- the previous owner dug a 4ft deep pit behind the dog run to help with run off.
-Soil is a good mix between clay/sand. Not too hard to dig up with few rocks.
-for the last 10 years there have been dogs/horses/cows/goats in the backyard.
Here is my wish list, but not sure where I should put them and would LOVE to have any input from the group.
-currently have rabbits, but would like to grow their own food
-Fruit trees, 8 peach, 3 apple, 2 cherry, 2 apricot, 1 plum - Any chance I could incorporate swales to water these trees?
-Windbreak/firebreak trees. there have been fires and there is a good amount of wide coming from the west and south. Any recommendations on windbreak/firebreak trees?
-Pond - I'd like to have a backup water supply, but where the current pit is located to catch run off it would be hard to gravity feed garden, trees. Any ideas?
-I plan on following the Back to Eden method of having 3-5 inches of tree mulch spread over and around garden, trees.
-I would like to have 1/4 acre of sod directly around the house for the kids to play on. I will have to install sprinklers for that and wonder if I should put any drip lines/irrigation spouts for the back pasture area?
-Firepit area surrounded by swings
I would really appreciate any input/ideas on how or where I can put these things and group them to take advantage of sun, run off, permaculture ideas, etc. Feel free to ask any questions as I am at the beginning of a very exciting adventure starting my own homestead/sustainable yard. I'm also open to adding/removing anything as I am new at this and many of you have great experience and success. Thanks and look forward to the conversation.
Looks like intermountain west somewhere, sagebrush-bunchgrass ecosystem... three big thoughts before anything else...
Water - your primary productivity is water limited. Everything else will follow water mgmt. You have your roof, your greywater, and any flow through you property. Think about roads as water collectors. Water is the first fertilizer--you'll want to capture and store in soil every drop.
Wind - wind increases water stress, and I bet you have some wind out there. Because you're water starved, you won't want to spend water on windbreaks, so think about native shrub windbreaks, and non-living windbreaks. Research season wind patterns on your site (the airport windrose can give you a start... but is not the final word.)
Fire - summer wind brings fire. This is best managed at a neighborhood scale, rather than a parcel scale.
If you reduce wind and capture all water, you'll have enough biomass to consider animals. Consider water conserving breeds and species. Goats come in pairs... I bet you won't produce enough forage on that site to grow more than rabbits without a sacrifice yard, and buying in resources.
Welcome to Permies, and desert living.
Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer