For aspiring homesteaders, the first thought that often comes up is, “I’d like to start homesteading, but I need more land”.
And it’s true. With a good-sized lot, you can have lots of space for a variety of plots and livestock.
However, this doesn’t mean you need 200 acres of property to get started.
Whether you have a tiny backyard or a tiny apartment, there are options to start homesteading.
Take microgreens for example. They can be grown at any scale. The same goes for herbs.
No matter the size of the space you have to work with, you can start NOW. Your creativity and effort will make up the difference. And hopefully one day, you can take what you’ve learned and apply it on a larger scale, with the property size you’re imagining.
But even though it’s more practical to start with what you have, it’s still nice to dream up what your homestead could be. And that’s exactly what I did here.
Designing a half-acre homestead
Let’s start from the beginning.
I wanted a backyard homestead design for some inspiration, so I took to the net.
I found there are a lot of urban homesteaders out there, but it was nearly impossible to find a plot layout that wasn’t from the WWII era (aka victory gardens).
The few that I found weren’t detailed enough or too low resolution to see anything.
So, I decided to make my own.
With this post, I’ll loop you in on how this was designed and the steps I took to keep it accurate.
Of course, I’m not a professional (designer or homesteader), but I hope this gives you a head start on your homesteading plans.
Homestead layout for zones 9 to 11
Born and raised in Florida, and currently living in California, I felt more comfortable designing a warm climate layout.
And while some things remain consistent across zones (like the viability of rabbits and chickens), others needed to be tailored.
Good crops to grow in these zones
Keep in mind, these are not exhaustive lists. They’re meant to serve as an idea of what food you could sufficiently grow in these half-acre layouts.
Naturally, some plants are better suited for warmer climates. I found that these crops grow best in zones 9 to 11.
Roots and green vegetables
Although many of these crops can be grown in colder climates, they will likely go dormant or die with frost. Growing in warmer zones means growing year-round.
Homestead layout for zones 1 to 8
While I live in a warm climate (zone 10a), I also wanted to develop an outline for a colder climate.
The biggest difference between the two was the addition of a greenhouse. Which isn’t exactly necessary, but can be an incredible asset to grow earlier and later in the seasons.
Good crops to grow in these zones
Overall, root vegetables tend to grow better in colder climates. If you’ve planted later, and frost is approaching, it’s likely a good idea to move your seedlings or saplings into the greenhouse.
Roots and green vegetables
- Stone fruits (apricots, peaches, cherries, etc)
Even within similar zones, there are several other factors to consider. Check to see which fruits and vegetables grow best in your area and are desirable to you. If you’ve been dying to try that one funky, exotic fruit, and it grows well in your area, then go for it.
Why these layouts are accurate
These half-acre layouts are true to scale, meaning the size of the house, gardens, and even the chicken coop in these graphics are proportional to ones in real life.
To size these, I used data from everyday Google searches:
- A half-acre is 21,780 square feet
- The average US home is 2,687 square feet
- The average garden size to feed a family of six is 1,200 square feet (200 per person)
- A stationary coop for 10 chickens is 100 square feet
- A den for five rabbits is 100 square feet
- The average-sized greenhouse is 2,880 square feet
From there, I converted square feet into pixels and was able to size exactly how large the graphics should be.
Things to consider
While I had fun researching and designing these plans, I adjusted it to allow for companion crops.
For example, I found it’s not smart to plant root vegetables alongside citrus trees as they can disturb the tree’s shallow roots. So, moving root vegetables to an independent plot was a better alternative.
I am 100% sure I missed other crop optimizations, so please do your research and build off these outlines to best suit your property and climate.
Amount and direction of sunlight
Before you build your homestead, make sure to learn about the direction of the sun on your property.
For northern climates, your gardens should be facing south as it will get the best amount of sunlight.
On the other hand, shade can be helpful to shield from the hot afternoon sun. So, consider the amount of sun and shade your property will provide.
Elevated or sunken ground
Note if your backyard has any raised sections. Raised areas will allow for more water drainage, while lower areas can get flooded. You might have to even out the land to get it how you’d like.
It’s much easier to do this beforehand than it is to realize it after you get going.
The amount of food generated
While 5 rabbits and 10 chickens will provide enough protein for one family (yes, rabbit reproduction is that fast), the plant food generated from the gardens is meant to be overcompensated.
With a good harvest, these plot sizes could feed up to three to four families. But, not all harvests will be good, which is why it’s smart to diversity.
You can start by growing a variety of foods that require different sun and water exposure. This diversity will also help make sure pests stop at one crop and don’t decimate your entire backyard.
Learning how to become more self-sufficient and grow survival crops is becoming more common as people reconnect with nature.
When you’re just starting, it’s nice to look towards others for inspiration. And while there are many homesteaders with amazing stories out there, finding designs for ideas can be tough. Hopefully, these two layouts spark some imagination for how you’d design your half-acre homestead!