One thing I love about homesteading is that you can do it on any scale. It does not matter if you have many acres or a small apartment; you can do something to increase your self-sufficiency. In this specific post, we are going to discuss how to homestead on a small property, because I think it is important to know how to cultivate a self-sufficient lifestyle regardless of circumstances.
When I first became interested in homesteading, we lived on two acres. I could have done a lot more than I did, but I did not realize it until we moved to a larger property. So I thought it would be fun to provide some ideas of what I wish I would have done on that property to utilize it best for homesteading.
[If you are interested in ideas for homesteading on a different size scale, such as an apartment or many acres, please let me know below in the comments.]
How to Homestead on a Small Property
First, I want to point out that two acres is not the smallest property you can homestead on, but you will be able to take any of my ideas and scale them to your property size. The most important thing is to plan out what you have space for and what you actually care to do. Here is some food for thought before we get into how to incorporate homesteading onto your small property.
Things to consider before you start your homestead
- What homesteading activities do you enjoy? Do you enjoy gardening, caring for animals, preserving goods, etc.?
- Regardless of how beneficial something is, if you do not enjoy doing it, you probably will not do it to its full potential.
- You want to do more of what you enjoy, because that will keep you focused on why you are doing this.
- Why are you homesteading?
- If you know your why, it does not always matter how much/little you enjoy something. You will do it because of your why.
- What are your zoning ordinances for where you live?
- If you live in the city, be sure you check your zoning ordinances for what animals you can or cannot have. Also, your zone may have some crazy law/rule about something you may not expect. It is not better to ask for forgiveness versus permission in this case.
- How much of your yard are you willing to devote to homesteading?
- Do you have a small area in your backyard that you want to dedicate to homesteading?
- Do you want to use every inch possible to dedicate to homesteading?
- Answering these questions will help you determine which of the ideas shared is most beneficial for the space you decide to dedicate.
- Will you grow vegetables, animals, or both?
- One of the most important things for a small property is whether you want to grow just vegetables, just animals, or both. Each need their dedicated space, so be sure you consider that before bringing plants and animals home with no idea of what to do next. Both can exist in a small space, and I will get to that a little further into this post.
- Note that with a small property, you won’t be able to have several cows or horses. These animals need a lot more space than a small property can provide, and I am not for putting a cow in a small 1/4 acre or smaller pen to be fed feed. I think animals deserve more than that, but that is just me.
Landscape Ideas for Homesteading on a Small Property
Small scale gardening
- Pick a space that gets 6+ hours of sunlight. This is what most vegetables/fruits/herbs need to grow and produce to their full potential.
- Make a list of vegetables, fruits, and herbs you eat [very important to only list what you eat], then plan accordingly.
- Be sure you give each plant proper spacing, or it will not grow as well due to root bound.
- Training vine plants to grow up a trellis or arched structure provides shade for plants that do not like the summertime heat versus letting the vines grow on the ground to take up unnecessary space. For example, cucumber is a vine plant that can provide shade for different lettuces, kale, or spinach. This also utilizes the small amount of space you have to grow as much as possible.
- Be sure to pick pots with enough space for the plant’s root system to grow well.
- These containers can be used as a patio boarder, mixed in with the landscape, or in a window sill [depending on the plant].
- Animals are completely possible for homesteading on almost any scale. Think rabbits, chickens, quail, pigs [stretching it, but definitely possible], goats, and any other smaller animals that does not need an entire acre to forage.
- Keep their use/purpose as priority. For example – if you want to enjoy fresh eggs, but also would like meat, a dual purpose bird maybe a good option. If you just want the meat with quick turn around and little space required, rabbits may be a better option.
Plant an edible garden landscape
- Mix in your herbs, edible flowers, vegetables, and fruits with your flower beds. The flowers help attract pollinators, which improves the harvest significantly.
- Planting your vine plants on a trellis adds appeal to your landscape, but also provides room for cucumbers, gourds, melons, and other vine plants.
Learn how to succession plant
- With having a small homestead, you want to get the best bang for your effort. With succession planting, you have the opportunity to have an ever changing landscape and make every plant count.
- When one plant has produced all it will produce, you plant something new in its place.
- This helps keep your soil healthy, too!
Plant dwarf size trees
- Small trees still produce, but they do not shade the yard like large trees do.
- Plant them in containers or within the landscape.
- You can plant fertilizing plants like comfrey around them as a dual purpose plant.
Window sill boxes
- Not only is it convenient to prune herbs for cooking, it creates a lovely aroma and adds curb appeal near eye level.
- These boxes can be used to grow edible flowers, herbs, or vine plants (depending on how much you want them to grow).
- It provides a second level of gardening that is wasted space without it.
- This allows you to grow vine plants into patio decking to provide shade for not only yourself, but also for plants that need less sunlight.
- Plant shade vegetables in containers and place under pergola to help extend growing season for these plants.
- Use hanging baskets as well for strawberries, herbs, or any other plant that does not require a lot root space to thrive.
Hopefully these ideas give you enough to get started on your homestead. Growing your own food is unlike anything else. If I had realized I could have had a homestead on my previous property, I know I would have enjoyed it more.
There is no such thing as having too small of a homestead. Trying something is always better than nothing, so never give up trying to live simpler.
If you have any questions or would like to contribute to the ideas shared, be sure to leave a comment! Learning how to homestead on a small property comes in many forms, so if you have a unique perspective, I would love for you to share it!