Backyard application of permaculture is an area I would like to see more widely practiced.
It really can make our lives better, help us to be more self-sufficient, and be more productive with less work.
I think finding life contentment is easier when your living environment is as compatible with your life as possible.
The best way to do this is by hiring an experienced permaculture designer.
Can the average person do a permaculture design themselves? Sure!
And it’s a good exercise to think about all the different aspects of a permaculture design.
But a permaculture designer will have the foundational knowledge and experience to help you design a system.
They know how to do systems thinking and can create an excellent design for you.
They can also help you avoid pitfalls and mistakes that people new to permaculture fall into. See my article on Top 7 Mistakes In Backyard Permaculture Design for more info.
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#1: Save money
For most people, their biggest expenses are housing and food.
Applying permaculture design to these areas will result in significant savings of money.
If you involve a permaculture designer when building or renovating your house, they can help you design for your lifestyle and needs.
You can also do this when remodeling or changing your backyard landscape.
For example, they may suggest alternative energy methods and natural building techniques such as earth-sheltered houses, annualized geo-solar, rocket mass heater, and thoughtful construction and ventilation, and earth-based cooling/heating.
You can save a lot of money on construction, refrigeration and heating/cooling, especially if you can do some or all the work yourself.
Make sure to see to why you should not build a log home. It covers why you might want to reconsider using that common “natural” building technique, and some superior alternatives.
Some options (crazy as it seems) even involve using logs!
With proper techniques, you can save money on construction and have a much smaller mortgage, if any.
Instead of buying a traditional stick-built house, build something that will last and have much lower maintenance costs.
You can read more about money and sustainable finances in my permaculture view on money and debt article.
#1.5: Grocery bill
The other big expense is food.
I don’t know about you, but my grocery bill has more than doubled in the last 10 years.
And that’s being careful about sales and lower cost grocery choices.
Talk to your permaculture designer about backyard food production. Even very small yards and apartments can house animals and plants that are efficient food-makers.
Making an edible food forest is a great way to do this. You just need to scale down to fit the space you are working with.
Keeping chickens or ducks can give you eggs and meat.
But my favorite are quail!
Quail have a number of benefits. They are quiet, don’t need much space, and can be kept indoors.
They also mature quickly, and can be harvested at 6 to 8 weeks. The quail hens start producing eggs at 6 to 7 weeks.
This is much faster maturing than chickens, who don’t start producing eggs until 4 months old.
An average suburban backyard can produce more food than you can probably handle.
For example, the Dervaes family in California produces 6000 pounds of food a year on a 1/10th acre lot.
This will directly offset the cost of groceries, and be healthier & fresher food than you can get anywhere.
Plus, reducing the number and amount of food preservatives in your diet can only help you feel better and have more energy.
#2: Prevent Wasted time & Be More efficient
Every Saturday, you can hear the noises of wasted time. Maybe you have to do it yourself.
Lawnmowers – roaring and belching fumes – interrupt the quiet morning.
Mowing, watering, fertilizing, and bug-killing a lawn to emerald perfection: all tasks waste time and add unnecessary expense and toxins to your home.
The point of the design is to make sure the house and land works for you, not you working for it. It needs to be more of a homestead, instead of just a house.
An important part of permaculture design is mapping. There are sector maps, zone maps, sun maps, and other maps useful for designing.
Zone maps take into account the frequency of visits to each part of your property. By designing for time and distance efficiency, you minimize wasted time doing repetitive tasks.
These tasks (and their respective element locations) group together closer to the house depending on how often and how much time you visit them.
A permaculture designer will do a site survey and in-depth interview to find out what you do and how best to optimize these tasks.
Even a small backyard will benefit from a zone map and task efficiency reworking.
You can get more done by making your house and yard/land more efficient with time and inputs.
So stop walking all over the property to get a task done!
#3: Cost-effective for backyards
For what you spend, you get back an efficient, low-input system that will provide for you.
You get to live in an environment that makes you happy! That could be a food forest or quiet reflection gardens.
How much is that worth to you?
Plus, the costs of hiring a permaculture designer are very small compared to the benefit of well-designed and implemented system.
This is even more true when it comes to backyards and small acreages. Why?
Because a smaller system can be managed more closely, it can produce more food per square foot than a larger property.
So you have a lower cost, and yet it gives you a better yield. That’s a really big win!
Let’s say you spend some money to have a permaculture designer create a design and implement a permaculture system.
Between the time savings and what the system produces, you should see a complete return on investment within just a few years.
It could be even sooner than that depending on how the system is set up. And all the saving and production after that is pure profit, as good as money in your pocket.
In addition, the system should become even more productive over time. Fruit and nut trees will mature in a few years and begin making pears, apples, and peaches.
So the longer the system is in place the better it is, and the more profitable.
If you’re going to hire a landscape architect, you might as well get a permaculture designed backyard that you can enjoy for years to come.
For you, it may also be more about having a place that makes you feel good, rather than a quick monetary result.
Consider this an investment in your happiness!
#4: Customized to your needs
I touched on this earlier in the section about wasted time.
A permaculture designer can customize the design to you, your family, your backyard, and your needs.
Good permaculture design will evaluate and integrate your goals, abilities and current elements as well as future elements you may be considering.
In new construction or a new-to-you house, it makes a lot of sense to design with permaculture. If you’re going to live here, make it work for you, not you for it!
And if you’re going to do landscaping anyway, why not make it edible and productive?
Now, I know most people will just live with an uncomfortable situation. I know I have done that!
But look at it this way: have you ever had to wear ill-fitting shoes? It’s no fun.
You get blisters, sore and hurting feet, and it makes you feel like everything is going wrong.
Don’t settle for another’s idea of how to live. Make it fit your lifestyle and desires.
So don’t wear bad shoes, or live in a poorly designed living environment.
Hiring a permaculture designer for your backyard or homestead can save you money, make your house and land more productive, with less work.
It’s also designed so that it fits you and how you live your life.
It’s a great investment in your and your family’s future happiness.
If you’d like to know more ways to live better, we’ve partnered with Claire Goodall to offer the Everyday Roots ebook. It’s over 350 pages of home remedies, natural beauty recipes, and DIY household products.
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OK, that’s all folks! Do you have any questions or comments about hiring a permaculture designer, sustainable homesteading, permaculture design or anything else? Ask your question down below and let’s talk! You can also use the contact form, or email me at info at thepermaculture dot life.
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