Designs on permaculture



This is a picture of my house. Click it if you want to enlarge it. I’m enlisting some advice from any of you that might be perma-culture people. We want to increase the food production of our little lot while still maintaining a “normal” front yard and also attempting to shield the house from some of the sun during the summer.


In this picture you are facing north, which means that the front of the house faces south. In the winter we get great solar gain from this but I want to shade more of the house during the summer. Especially the windows on the right and left of the front door. I was thinking about planting cherry trees about 5-6 feet in front of those windows to provide some sun blockage in the summer. I expect they will grow about 8-10ft tall so that seems like it would work.


We are also trying to determine what other trees to add to the front of the house. I think we will only add two trees. The existing tree you can see on the left is a maple tree that is almost dead, but I left it there to provide some shade until it completely dies. Any trees we plant in the front yard will be mostly on their own as the front yard is the play yard at our house. Behind our house our neighbors have an apple tree and a pear tree that we are allowed to assist with tasty fruit removal so keep that in mind. Personally I’ve been interested in paw paw trees, but I’ve never had one and I don’t want to invest in a tree until I have one. I just haven’t found one to try yet.


Also, we want to remove the evergreen bushes you see on the front. We’re thinking about making those blueberry bushes, but I’m not sure if that would be too much sun. Most likely I think it might be. I also would like to add a rosemary bush in there somewhere. And over to the far right by the clay pot, which isn’t there yet, will be the spot of our solar water heater, so I have to keep the need for full sun for that in mind when I place the plants in their spots.


Well, do any of you have any ideas on what we can do to get some Gaia going on over here?






5 responses to “Designs on permaculture

  1. Matt,

    What follows are random comments in no particular order:

    Spend some time in the front yard during the summer months during the middle of the day. I’m wondering how much shading that maple does that far from your house. It’s hard to tell from the picture.

    Other trees, including fruit trees, will serve to shade your house but fruit trees are not generally large trees. Also the dwarf and semi dwarf trees that begin bearing much sooner are much smaller. I think the larger the tree you plant for shade purposes the longer you’ll have to wait for shade and fruit. Some nut trees are generally much larger in size- pecan and walnuts among others. They also tend to take a while before you get much fruit from them. You might want to use a faster growing, larger tree that doesn’t produce human food if you’re really interested in shade and position some smaller fruit trees elsewhere. Also cherries tend to be shorter-lived trees. This is not a rule but they and other fruit trees have more than an average instances of disease as trees go. Not a reason to abandon the idea of using them, but you just don’t want to count on them for long term shade.

    Blueberries lose their leaves in the winter. This is not a reason not to use them. I love blueberries. Just keep that in mind when placing them in front of our house. If rosemary will survive where you live, they make an excellent, evergreen foundation planting along a sunny front facade. Or you can plant them closer together and get a great smelling hedge after only a few years. They root easily- you could start your own spring rosemary shrub production business with some soil, some pots and sharp pair of scissors. They also make great tea and great skewers.

    Too bad you don’t want to turn over more of your front yard to garden. You’ve got great sun exposure. You could put in a walkway from the street to your front door. This would give you the pretext to create beds along the path where you could grow a mixture of flowers and herbs and perennial greens and vegetables too. This would negate the front yard as Frisbee friendly, this is true. But I couldn’t help but mention it because of what a great canvas you have their.

    Of course there’s room for water also- a small water feature that could pretend to be for looks but could be deep enough to hold a substantial amount of water from roof runoff. A very small pump hidden just behind the alligator statue could allow you to use water from this decorative water feature to water the plants you install out front.

    And you could mix ground covers like strawberries and chamomile in anywhere you choose to use larger shrubs.

    Personally though I’d plant the whole thing in corn though. Don’t you live in Iowa? Haven’t you read about the demand for ethanol? I’m sure your neighbors wouldn’t mind.

  2. Now, Aaron, don’t get him going too much. Yes, I think he would love to turn the front yard into many vegetable beds. As nice as the walkway from the street sounds there is not street parking and the boys do need someplace to run in the grass. I like the idea of the rosemary hedges along the front and the water feature but lets keep the blueberries elsewhere. Got to keep up the curb appeal. Neighbors would be the least of his worries if he did anything radical.
    Matthew, sometime ago I sent you a website for curb appeal vegetable gardening and for the life of me I cannot think what it was called and did not save. Hope someone can come up with it cause it was sharp.

  3. Momma Mayer,

    Remember, as Matthew’s friend it is my job to get him in as much trouble as possible.

    I would like to see that article as well.


  4. May take me awhile, Aaron but will see if I can locate it. I am not as computer savvy as some.

    Long distance troublemaking is O.K.


    I believe this is it but with my old dial up it is taking forever to download.

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