Remake your backyard into a mini farm

  • ( Danielle Sykes/ Houzz)

  • ( Jake Moss Designs/ Houzz)

  • ( B. Jane Gardens/ Houzz)

If youve been staring at the patch of grass in your backyard and wishing there was something else you could do with it, youve come to the right place. Whether you are just beginning your first vegetable garden or are an experienced urban gardener looking to try something new( drying your own herbs, perhaps ?), here are nine ideas to inspire your backyard farmstead.

Why rethink your backyard? A typical backyard, made up of a big green lawn and maybe an region for grilling and feeing outdoors, can be great for playing and entertaining but its not the only style to work your outdoor space. Imagine the elation of picking fresh salad greens just before dinner from your veggie garden, harvesting fruit from your own trees, collecting fresh eggs from your backyard flock or meeting honey from your own hive. Even a small garden takes work, to be sure, but the pleasure of producing food in your own backyard can be worth the sweat.

Plant a vegetable garden. A vegetable garden is where many folks interested in producing some of their own food begin, and with good reason. You can dedicate as much( or as little) of your yard to edibles as you want, and even novices can have great success planting a first garden when its kept to a manageable size.

Are you ready to start a vegetable garden ?

  • Do you have a place in your yard that get full sunshine ?
  • Do you have the time to water and weed your garden each week ?
  • Do you have any big travel plans? If so, is there someone who can care for your garden while youre away ?
  • Do you have deer, rabbits or other critters in your region that may try to get your veggies? If so, will you be able to create a barrier that can keep your garden protected ?
  • RELATED: How to Plan Your Edible Garden

    Dry herbs and flowers . Drying herbs like lemon salve( for tea) and flowers like lavender( for sachets or bath products) can extend the harvest of these fragrant plants. Herbs and blooms also tend to be lower-maintenance than vegetable gardens, attaining them a good option for gardeners who want a useful crop but have less time to spend gardening.

    Are you ready to grow herbs and blooms ?

    • Do you have a sunny place to grow a bed of flowers? Flowers and herbs can do well in pots, too, so you can grow these even on a patio .
    • Do you have space to spread out or hang up herbs and flowers to dry ?
    • Dont forget that you can also cut fresh blooms for corsages and use fresh herbs in your cooking !
    • Grow an orchard . Even a single productive fruit tree can make plenty of fruit for a family to enjoy per year. If you have the space to plant a small orchard, consider which fruits you love to eat as well as which you can store, or turn into jam or sauce. And even those with small yards can do well planting dwarf varieties, which have the added benefit of being short enough to harvest altogether from the ground no ladders needed!

      Are you ready to start an orchard ?

      • Do you know which fruit or nut trees do well in your climate ?
      • Do you own your home or have permission to plant trees if you rent ?
      • Do you have the space to accommodate full-size trees, or do you need to find dwarf trees ?
      • Are you prepared to wait several years for the trees to ripen before enjoying a full harvest ?
      • Do you have the resources to hire a pro to prune your trees each year, or are you able take a workshop taught to do it yourself ?
      • Keep a flock of backyard hens. Chickens can construct highly entertaining backyard buddies that also happen to produce the freshest, tastiest eggs you will ever have. They can cause quite a bit of mayhem if allowed to run loose on your lawn or in your garden( hello, chicken poop; goodbye, plants) so its worth investing in a secure coop and enclosed operate, and letting the dames out in the rest of the yard merely on( supervised) special occasions.

        Are you ready to keep chickens ?

        • Are backyard chickens legal in your town? Be sure you know the specifics of your local ordinance before committing to a flock .
        • Do you have experience keeping other pets that require daily care, like a dog or cat ?
        • Are you able to invest in a secure, predator-proof coop and operate ?
        • Are you home enough to be able to take care of your flock morning and evening each day ?
        • Start a compost pile. If you have a garden, attaining your own compost is a logical next step. By saving your kitchen food scraps, chicken drops( if you have a backyard flock ), dry foliages and yard waste, you can create your very own stockpile of black gold to enrich your garden beds.

          Are you ready to make compost ?

          • Do you have critters in your region that may try to get in the compost bin? If so, you will need a securely closed receptacle .
          • Collecting food scraps( along with eggshells and coffee grounds) from the kitchen is an easy way to add to your compost pile and reduce landfill waste. Keep a small bin with a cover-up in your kitchen to construct collecting easy .
          • Remember to add brown organic matter between layers of green( kitchen scraps ). Good additions for the brown layer include dried foliages, hay, straw, timber chips and trimmings from trees. Keeping a pile of brown matter near your compost bin attains it easier to recollect to do this .
          • Turning your compost pile often will help the contents break down faster .
          • Line-dry your clothes. Theres something meditative about hanging up clothes to dry on a line plus it saves energy by making your dryer unneeded( at least during the warmer months ).

            Are you ready to line-dry ?

            • Do you have space for a clothesline? If you have a homeowners association, check the rules before setting up a clothesline within view of neighbours .
            • Is the weather in your area good enough? Frequent rains can thwart your best line-drying efforts !
            • Still not sure about line drying? You can always test the idea by setting up a small drying rack on the back porch .
            • RELATED: Find a Landscape Architect to Create the Backyard of Your Dreams

              Collect rainwater. Rainwater harvesting is a wonderful style to ensure that you have plenty of water to employ on your garden, even in times of drought when there may be water restrictions.

              Are you ready to collect rainwater ?

              How much water would you like to collect, and how much room do you have? Rain tanks and barrels come in many sizes.

              Is the runoff water from your roof exposed to lead or any other hazardous materials? If so, its not safe to employ on food crops.

              Worried about your homeowners association or neighbours? Seem for( or special-order) a rain barrel that matches your homes exterior, and keep it on the smaller side or position it at the back of your house.

              Be sure your rain barrel or tank has a secure screen to avoid mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.

              RELATED: How to Install a DIY Rain Barrel

              Collect honey from your own hive. Honeybees help pollinate the garden, leading to a more productive harvest, as well as providing fresh honey for the luck hive owned. And beekeeping doesnt require a lot of space, so even those in urban areas can get in on the sweet fun.

              Are you ready to keep bees ?

              • Does anyone in your household have a severe bee allergy? If so, its best to take a pass on the hive .
              • Do you have a spot to posture the hive away from entrances to your home? While a hive doesnt take up much space, if placed too close to your entryway, you may have a few unwanted visitors buzzing in .
              • Does your township permit beehives? Most dont have regulations against keeping bees, but its always a good idea to check first .
              • Keep goats, ducks and other animals great and small. Chickens are good starter farm animals, but if youve maintained chickens and want more on your homestead, ducks, goats, sheep and other beasts offer other benefits along with additional run. Duck eggs are delicious and great for baking, a milking goat can keep your family in fresh chevre, and sheep may be a knitters ultimate companion, wool to spin into yarn.

                RELATED: Enjoy Your Backyard With New Adirondack Chairs

                Are you ready to keep other farm animals ?

                • Is your neighborhood zoned for the type of animals you want to keep ?
                • Do you have ample space on your property to keep the animals you want? Bear in mind that some beings( like sheep and goats) can have a distinct barn-y smelling that you will want to keep a distance from your home .
                • Will your neighbors be OK having farm animals next door ?
                • Do you have the time and dedication to commit to caring for a barnyard animal? Milking animals especially require an intense level of being responsible, and should be taken on merely by those with its expertise and long-term commitment .
                • If you need more education about caring for farm animals, is there a local workshop where you can learn more ?
                • Living the life. A backyard-turned-farm, whatever your version of it is possible to, is certainly a lot of work but it also provides a rich source of homegrown entertainment. Why used to go, when you are able to enjoy a delicious local, organic dinner right in your backyard, steps from where the ingredients were grown?

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