Ben - I'm just beginning to figure this out, too, and started with Google earth, Sketchup 8, Microsoft Office Visio. I export the 3-D model of my property using Google earth terrain from Sketchup as a 2-D image file (.png) and import it to Visio where I overlay the image with design objects (ponds, creeks, trees, etc.) Visio is expensive but I'm also experimenting with Open Office DRAW, a free open-source package.
I'm looking for collaborative consulting on permaculture design solutions for a 6-acre "homestead".
I'm in the early stages of the design process and have a sketchup model of the terrain with contour lines I can share. Basically the property sits smack dab in the middle of a watershed so I'd like to capture as much of the rain runoff as possible in a series of small ponds. In addition, the property is blessed with several springs and seeps feeding a seasonal brook / branch (this year's rainfall has fully charged the water table). I plan to redirect two (2) other seasonal brooks running off the property's edge boundary back to the main drainage to slow, store and soak a future forest garden.
Being a freshman permaculture student I'm interested in the feasibility of swales on contour for my narrow, 25% - 32% grade hillside (former pasture) nestled between secondary ridges below a 3200' mountain. The primary 5-acre lot ranges from 2500' to 2700' with a lower 1-acre narrow sliver of land running from 2400' up to 2500'.
I'm an IT geek so I was wondering if remote consulting using jpeg, pdf, png and skp files is doable? I'd obviously prefer onsite walkabouts to get the lay of the land to start.
By the way, I found a great source for Comfrey near Nantahala!
Thanks for your feedback.
Nantahala Mountains: Western North Carolina
Temperate Rain Forest: Zone 6b / 7a | Elevation: 1900-2700' | Annual Rainfall ~ 50+"