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software for designing pathway for forest garden

 
Ronaldo Montoya
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Hi, in the book edible forest garden it says its a good idea to create your pathway before planting your forest garden.

Im programmer and i was thinking about creating a program that would generate algorithmically the shapes of the pathways.
For doing so i was thinking which design criteria or shape evaluation should i need to incorporate in order to select the best pathways .

For example , if the software create tons of fractal pathways, in which way should the software can automatically select the better pathways?


One criteria i can think of is : using less resources , that would mean the shortest paths.

Other criteria: the distance of the end of each pathway should not be very near of very distanced, which should be a good distance?

Which kind of shapes do you think is better for forest gardens?

which criterias can you think of?



any idea would be appreacited



 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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I am not sure if fractal designs will create optimized paths. I think it would be better to use fractals in planting design after the main paths are set. Sub-paths off the main paths to the fractal plantings would work I think. I am a programmer too.

In forest gardens, the key is to be able to harvest. Designing paths will allow you to incorporate the current existing landscape and mature/immature trees and their more mature sizes.

Then adding in the main supply lines that will feed to those groves. These should be 6-7' wide to allow access with wheelbarrows.

In the groves, creating triangles or hexagons around your mature trees. Spacing no more than 15'-20' off of the main trees or new grove trees. Then add your understory right next to the path and will grow over it.

Then the herbaceous layer under that, and growing on the paths when you are not harvesting. This will keep the soil cool, and should be diverse with the many micro-climates being created.

Attaching a picture with the "green" trees as mature already. Triangle harvesting path, can be any shape, but not right up to the canopy tree.
forest-garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for forest-garden.jpg]
 
Ronaldo Montoya
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Hey DAve, your image is very interesting, it looks very fractal to me. But which is the criteria you used for setting the main paths?
I ask this because i think very little differences in the positions , or inclination of the pathways are gonna give different result in terms of efficiency.

I think it would be better to define where is gonna be your fruit trees at the beginning and then the software should generate the most efficient pathways and also the positions of shrubs, herbs, and the rest of plants.

Most efficiency would mean moving the shortest distance possible for harvesting and using less resources and space .





Dave Lodge wrote:I am not sure if fractal designs will create optimized paths. I think it would be better to use fractals in planting design after the main paths are set. Sub-paths off the main paths to the fractal plantings would work I think. I am a programmer too.

In forest gardens, the key is to be able to harvest. Designing paths will allow you to incorporate the current existing landscape and mature/immature trees and their more mature sizes.

Then adding in the main supply lines that will feed to those groves. These should be 6-7' wide to allow access with wheelbarrows.

In the groves, creating triangles or hexagons around your mature trees. Spacing no more than 15'-20' off of the main trees or new grove trees. Then add your understory right next to the path and will grow over it.

Then the herbaceous layer under that, and growing on the paths when you are not harvesting. This will keep the soil cool, and should be diverse with the many micro-climates being created.

Attaching a picture with the "green" trees as mature already. Triangle harvesting path, can be any shape, but not right up to the canopy tree.
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Ronaldo Montoya wrote:I think it would be better to define where is gonna be your fruit trees at the beginning (...) Most efficiency would mean moving the shortest distance possible for harvesting and using less resources and space

Just to be difficult, here's another perspective
I'm designing/planting a community food forest.
the path layout is definitely being worked in around the planted trees/shrubs
The food forest is being created for maximum engagement-efficiency is waay down the list...
People (especially children) love twists and turns-inefficient, but fun!
Our food forest will have four main guilds (I might call them 'families')
and it's important that paths and signage are designed so that visitors understand why/where/what etc
The main paths will meander impractically through the guilds,
although I'm sure more useful paths will appear in direct a-to-b routes, as they always do!
 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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The main paths are 15-20' away from the canopy trees to keep them out of the main root zone. In the plan the canopy trees already exist in those locations so I just drew a line in-between them. Tree roots will go beyond this amount but will be able to grow beyond the paths. Would depend on your natural tree density where you are. I have canopy trees at 7-10' apart here, so I can space pretty close together.

In terms of efficiency, the trees further out need no maintenance, and might have limited fruiting time or multiple plants fruiting at the same time. (Plums, Apples, Walnut, Chestnuts, Grapes in the fall). The plants closer to the house can be things that are more maintenance or a long harvest time. Raspberries, Blackberry, Herbs. Your speed gains are the main paths which allow you to have a wheelbarrow or some harvesting tool to go with and that's why its simple lines to the minimal amount of path space. Straight lines allow the best speed because turns will almost always reduce the speed you can move and increase resistance.

Paths are a waste of space usually, so I like to grow on the paths where I can cut off management to the cluster. Usually they are path plants to be harvest-able/cutable before the tree/shrubs are harvest-able. Then just cut the plants to the ground and harvest whatever, or chop and drop into the root zone of the trees. If you mulch the paths, this can be a good place to grow your greens since they have a short growing period and you can harvest them before stepping on them.
 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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I went through and tried a more fractal design. Not sure if its more paths this way. Larger in scale than the other image. Trees are 150px, understory is 75px, herbs is 25px.

Shows visuals so you can get a overview of your grove at a point, which can be underplanted with shorter species. Ideally at a higher place.
fractal-forest-garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for fractal-forest-garden.jpg]
 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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Whoops, thats not really a fractal ha. Now I am getting what you are talking about I think.

It is not true mathematical fractal but gives some idea. Canopy 15-20' away from main paths, sub-main paths if needed between main runners. Can keep replicating this outwards.
semi-true-fractal-forest-garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for semi-true-fractal-forest-garden.jpg]
 
Dave Lodge
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Location: New England
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Adding some more scale to it, but could be fine tuned with some math models.
another-fractal-design.jpg
[Thumbnail for another-fractal-design.jpg]
 
Dave Miller
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Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Here is one example I found of pathways in a rubber tree leaf:


Some things I have noticed about this design:
1. Some of the side veins are mirrored on the other half of the leaf, some of them are not perfect mirrors.
2. Near the edge of the leaf, each major radiating vein joins the tip of the next one.
3. In between the major radiating veins is a network of tiny veins

More thoughts:
- One trail design that I have seen work well is to have no trail design at all. Instead, just let people walk wherever they want to, and over time natural paths will be formed. Put your "paving" material where these natural paths have been formed.
- Keep in mind that any land used for paths is not growing plants. Thus you might want to allocated just the bare minimum for paths. That is one reason I am using a keyhole design for my vegetable garden.
- In a food forest it is OK to walk where there is no path. You don't need a path to every single plant. You want paths where you will be walking often. If you have a fruit tree that you visit only a few times a year, you don't need to make a path to it.
- On the other hand, paths can be a key part of your design aesthetic. i.e. you can have paths which are mainly for visual appeal. It depends on your goals.
 
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