Zone Analysis of Our Homestead – Part 2

This is Part 2 of dissecting a Permaculture Zone Analysis of our five acres.  You can read Part 1 Here.

This is also a continuation of an introductory series exploring my study and application of Permaculture.  You can find the related articles by visiting GHC’s Site Index.  All of these topics are discussed more deeply during our Workshops and Seminars.

Welcome back!  So… you remember what we’re doing?

How To Create a Permaculture Zone Analysis

Create a Permaculture Zone Analysis

Yes, we’re taking a stroll around our five acres and looking at space through the filter of a Permaculture Zone Analysis.

Let’s pick up right where we left off last time, where we already covered Zones 1 & 2.

Zone 3 – Area You Manage Rarely


H – This area is seven mature apple trees (25 years old?) which produce well and we’re very thankful to have.  I consider this a Zone 3 for now because they’re incredibly overgrown.  I’m pruning a little at a time several times a year until they get back into healthy and even more productive shape.  The ducks are currently paddocked here so they can help fertilize these poor neglected trees, and also clean up fallen fruit and any apple tree pests that are trying to overwinter now that the days are growing cooler.  But putting my ducks to work is a longer explanation for another day and not really relevant here.  Pardon the digression…  When the trees are better pruned, more sunlight will filter through their canopy, and I can establish other supporting elements here to help out the trees… and save me work (theme alert!)

I – Proposed future spot for bees.  I want two hives in each location.  The northern letter I out by the road will pollinate the multitude of trees, bushes, herbs, vines, and other cool stuff in the future Zone 4 Food Forest (you’ll see in the next section).  We’ll begin in the spring with this one as the wife has only recently lifted her veto over adding buzzing chambers of death to our place.  I’m not going to push my luck yet, but hopefully once she sees how docile they can be, and how free the honey is (since she uses expensive bought honey almost every day) we’ll establish a couple hives at the southern letter to help populate the elements down that way.  Yes, spousal comfort levels need to be worked into your design.  I like sleeping inside Zone 0.

J – These areas are currently open and get good afternoon sun.  I want to plant a couple fruit trees and supporting layers here and keep these up a little nicer than a more wild looking, large Zone 4 Food Forest.  As I talk with clients about what is possible at their place, I want it to be clear that someone doesn’t need five acres to grow healthy, sustainable food.  “Oh, you only have a tenth of an acre to work with?  Please come with me over to this semi-dwarf cherry tree and multitude of other edible bushes, shrubs, vines, herbs, ground covers, and tubers” that all fit in my tiny little oval J area.

Zone 4 – Area You Manage Very Rarely


K – Here’s my future food forest.  We’ll talk someday about what exactly that means, but for now imagine a full fledged, healthy forest… except everything growing there, at every level and every layers… is either edible, or aids something else that’s edible.  I’ll walk through this area to enjoy it, but will only manage it when something needs harvested or maybe helped out for a change in seasons.  Man, am I sick of mowing this.  Grow little food forest… GROW!  I’m going to leave alleys in between the tree plantings and tractor a couple batches of pastured meat chickens through here.  That is a small element that will get managed often inside this larger, rarely managed Zone 4 element.

L – This is a small timber harvesting plot.  Since this gets southern exposure, I want to selectively and responsibly thin out the trees in here to help the remaining trees remain as strong as possible.  What I harvest in here is already being used for our winter firewood.  I’ll replant as I go to utilize the southern sun…  just not exactly sure with exactly what yet.

Zone 5 – Area You Never Manage


M – I love walking through our woods.  Every time I do, I learn something.

  • Why does the creek divert right there?  I should think about it and see if I should mimic it in the garden.
  • What’s up with this erosion pattern coming down the hill? Hmm, I wonder if that’s what’s happening to the culvert under the driveway.
  • Pretty cool how squirrels and birds instinctively jump or fly to a higher perch when I walk through here.  I should add more elevated elements to the chicken coop.

I tread lightly and try to disturb as little as possible.  If a tree falls in here, I let it be.  I don’t take rocks out because they’re probably somebody’s home.  I don’t divert or dam up the creek.  I look.  I listen.  I observe.  However, I do make a few exceptions.  I hunt out here (remember the 9 foot tall Zone 1 deer fence?) and forage to take home great stuff like autumn olive berries, wild garlics, black walnuts, morel mushrooms, and much much more.

The last thing I’ll mention is that this is a macro Zone Analysis of the whole property.  It’s just as important to take the next step and create micro Zone Analyses of each space and element.  For example, I have a border strip in the largest Zone 1 garden area that is about 3 feet wide by 100 feet long that I don’t manage at all as Zone 5 habitat for beneficial insects and the like.

So that’s it.  Did you enjoy your look around?


Question of the day: What would you change or improve from my analysis?  Have you done something similar with your place?

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9 comments on “Zone Analysis of Our Homestead – Part 2
  1. Ann says:

    If I divided our yard into zones, each one might take up about the square footage of a porta-potty. But I like living vicariously through what you guys are doing. So interesting! And I’m even growing my own inner-city shiitakes, thanks to my latest acquisition of a shiitake log. Not quite foraging my forest for morels, but it will do for now! Thanks for such an informative post
    Ann recently posted…Moose BallsMy Profile

  2. It’s so fun to watch your design develop. It sounds like you have a solid plan laid out. I’m with Ann…so accustomed to my little one-tenth of an acre, that I would probably never leave zones 1 & 2!

    I like the idea of adding elevated perches to the chicken coop – cool forest observation.
    Amy@TenthAcreFarm recently posted…In the Garden: What to do in OctoberMy Profile

  3. WY_Not says:

    Ok, ye slacker. hehe When is the next update?

    • Mike says:

      Yeah, unfortunately life has gotten in the way of the ol’ blog side of GHC. We’ve still had lots of projects going on around here and eventually I’ll be putting up some updates. 🙂

      • WY_Not says:

        Can definitely relate to that. Spent the weekend trying to get some projects finished up outside and still have a ton to do. Got about a foot of leaves in the chicken run and a huge pile in the far corner and couldn’t tell the yard had been raked. Of course all this snow hid that.

        Did manage to get some garlic in the ground. And a double batch of honey butter made and in jars (4 pint jars and a half pint jar). Have about a gallon of vanilla liqueur that is ready to be filtered and bottled. Have fixings for a few gallons of hard cider, just need to get it started.

      • WY_Not says:

        Almost forgot to mention the reason I was chomping at the bit about your next installment…

        Our property is actually laid out VERY similar to yours. About 5 acres in a narrow strip. House on one end with yard around it and the other 3/4s or so of the lot wooded. We have a small creek running through ours. Your write ups are sparking lots of great ideas and saving me some time/work. 😀

        Really need to have you guys up to visit some evening to visit and to pick your brain a bit. Perhaps a few cups of good coffee and some home canned goods will add to the enticement.

        Hoping to get to the Miamisburg AS in December but not sure if that will happen; it is a kids weekend.

        • Mike says:

          Sounds good. I surprisingly did pretty well this year in the Battle against the Leaves. Pretty much a few hours every weekend raking and blowing everything into my Zone 1 garden area, to be used in the coop as litter like you, and to kill off grass and stage for sheet mulching for future garden beds in that large area. I also got garlic in the ground thanks to a gift of a lot of cloves from a friend.

          We’d love to come take a walk around sometime. You need to come see our place too.

  4. Can’t wait to see what the next 20 years brings to your homestead 😉
    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite recently posted…Market Day Traditions and the Crazy CookieMy Profile

  5. mamasarge says:

    just a thought…what about coppicing trees for firewood?

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