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Transform Your Conventional Landscape into an Urban Homestead

Mar 14, 2024

In a world where self-sufficiency and relationship to the land are increasingly important, transforming a conventional landscape into an urban homestead is a beautiful endeavor. Whether you have a sprawling backyard or a smaller space, there are ways to create a productive and eco-friendly permaculture space that provides food, habitat for wildlife, and a sense of connection to the natural world.

We’d love to share a project with you. An in-town Atlanta client came to us with the dream of turning her urban landscape into a fully functioning and abundant homestead that could nourish her family and beyond.

We began with a site analysis and assessment. When you can identify strengths and limitations through contemplative observations, you can begin to imagine the true needs and possibilities of the landscape. Consider factors such as sunlight exposure, soil quality, and available water sources and overland flows. Take note of existing features, such as trees, shrubs, or structures, that could influence your design.

Before shot of the client’s back yard

First plantings after building soil with our instal team

Then we began designing with the clients’ goals in mind, an important step that helps guide the entire process, whether it’s growing your own food, creating habitat for pollinators, becoming a gardener, or reducing your environmental footprint. This project had two main objectives. The first objective was to grow food. With a ton of organic farming experience herself, the homeowner wanted to grow all kinds of food so we designed a designated food garden plus various growing spaces throughout the front and backyards. The second objective was to manage and harvest rainwater onsite for irrigation, tapping downspouts from the home into an 1100-gallon cistern sited at the high point of that annual food production space. Overflow water was directed to three rain gardens in the backyard as well as a 15’ swale across that front yard.

Choosing Plants and Materials

Holy basil growing in abundance

We selected plenty of natives, perennials, and pollinator species to make sure the edible landscape would benefit from being a part of a thriving ecosystem. For the edible landscape and annual garden beds, we chose fruits like kiwi, muscadine, pomegranate, and blueberry, veggies like asparagus, sunchoke, horseradish, alliums, leafy greens, and herbs like lemon balm, tulsi, sorrel, and thyme. In addition, we incorporated fruit trees throughout the yard, including cherry trees, apple trees, paw paws, persimmons, loquat and fig, weaving in home-scale edible forests, plus hardy herbs, and sumac throughout.  

When selecting plants for your urban homestead, prioritize native species well-suited to your climate and soil conditions. Native plants typically require less water and maintenance, providing valuable habitat for local wildlife.

Implementing Sustainable Practices

The client’s fall harvest

Maintaining an urban homestead requires ongoing care and attention, but you can incorporate many sustainable practices to make the most of your space. This client has done an extraordinary job putting in the care to keep her landscape abundant, and she sees the value of a permaculture garden that wants to be there!

Integration of native plants and edibles in a biodiverse ecosystem

Transforming a conventional landscape into an urban homestead is a journey that requires patience, creativity, and dedication. By carefully assessing your space, designing with sustainability in mind, and embracing reciprocity with your new abundant garden, you can create a productive and eco-friendly oasis right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re growing your own food, supporting local wildlife, or simply enjoying the beauty of nature, an urban homestead offers countless rewards for both you and the planet.

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