Whether you are a design professional, a city planner, municipality, developer or possibly most importantly, a member of the community, a great design starts with a base plan.
So many of us, right now during the COVID-19 space, are thinking about creating and or strengthening our homesteads. Whether it is growing food, harvesting rainwater, supporting biodiversity, and so on, NOW is a great time to be thinking about ALL OF IT. Resiliency starts at home and in our communities. Activism doesn’t always need to be out in the street. Growing your own food is a powerful form of protest and action. Did you know it only takes 3.5% of the population to tip the scales for change?
So we ask ourselves, “Where do we start?”…..with a base plan. This is something you can do yourself at home with a long tape measure, pen and paper.
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Here is a list of things you might need to start:
1. Tape Measure, paper and pencil
2. A camera to record your findings
3. A large sheet of bond or trace paper (typically 24×36” depending on your property size)
4. An architectural scale
5. A circle template
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Instructions to create your base plan:
- Draw an outline of your site. Use one-quarter inch for a foot, or one-eighth inch for a foot for your scale (if your yard is large).
- Draw the outline with the proper compass orientation (the top of the paper being the northern end of your site if possible).
- Draw “to-scale” outlines of your home, outbuildings and garage.
- Draw “to-scale” outlines of the existing hardscape (patio, driveway, walkways, etc.) at the site.
- Draw “to-scale” circles that represent the dimensions of the canopies of existing trees and shrubs.
- Be sure to draw existing trees and shrubs, whether you would like to keep them or not, as this is a warm-up exercise designed to prepare you for making a new plan.)
- Be sure to include neighbors’ trees and/or shrubs and outbuildings that shade your site. The surrounding context is very important and will inform your design.
- Get your roof measurements if you want to capture rainwater.
At this point you should have enough information to start planning your dream garden spaces, community garden or wherever you’re able to play the role you are meant to during these challenging times. Just remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect. The point is to get your hands in the soil and connect with the earth.
Here are just a few idea of regenerative systems you might want or be able to include in your new design:
- A food garden or food forest
- Rainwater / Stormwater Harvesting
- A biodiverse native garden to support pollinators
- Hugelkultur for triple the amount of planting space
- A place to compost green waste for reuse