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Assessing Your Site

Part of "Planning Your Homestead"


I ka nānā no ka ‘ike. - ‘Ōlelo No’eau #1186
By observing, one learns.


When starting a homestead or garden project your first inclination may be to jump into action, start digging, planting and building immediately. But at this stage it is most important to just take the time to sit back and observe your site before taking up a shovel or mapping out a plan.


​Whether you have a multiacre lot or a small patio for container planting, ​spend time walking around the entire space. 


How do you want it to eventually look, feel, and function? While nothing needs to be set in stone now, try to imagine your optimal layout. It should be convenient and functional. 


Spend significant time looking at your space from many angles. Evaluate the sun exposure at different times of the day. Look for the sources of shade that will protect your new plantings.


Use weather websites to understand seasonal changes, average rainfall and prevailing wind directions of your area. Identify your main water sources and begin to think about how to best get water to your key cultivation areas. Observe the interaction of all these factors to generally identify the best place to site your shelter and storage areas.   

Areas that you will be visiting frequently, such as a vegetable or herb garden, are best sited near your kitchen door. A compost area should be close enough to be convenient for dropping off kitchen scraps but not so close to be unpleasant to your senses.


Any farm animals or beehives should probably not be very close to the house. Yet you don’t want them so far away that it becomes a big chore to visit and care for them.  

Start this segment with the link to the video Make a Sun Map. Then proceed to the other Useful Links that provide you with instructions on how to observe your site in basic ways.

Useful Links:
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Observe the track of the sun across your property to plan a successful garden.

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What to look for when orienting your growing areas and garden.

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Swales are lower lying contours of land that assist with irrigation. Learn more.

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Weather History of Your Site

Plug in the town or zip code of your site and Wunderground lists the nearest weather history by your selected date, week or month or year. You will need this to make planting choices.

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Brief video showing how swales are used in house siting on a lot.

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Article from Mother Earth News on how to supply water to a homestead.

> Back to Course 2:

Planning Your Homestead

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