In order to make the most use of and get the best benefit or sustainability of the natural resources offered by your property, you must first study the environment.
This will, and should, take more time based on the size and geography of your property. The process may come quick and simple for a person in a suburban neighborhood, or take days for a person with several acres in a rolling country side.
No matter how large or small, there are lessons to be learned and benefits to be gained from making the effort to study nature’s behavior.
Land Management: Natural Habitat
Before you decide that you need a certain type of garden, trees, or even landscaping, look to see what is already there. This can take some time if you are not familiar with wild edibles or animal habitats, but it is worth learning.
If you are looking at your property in the spring, you might not know that a certain tree is actually a fruit or nut tree, as they fruit will not appear until late summer. Since fruit and nut trees can take years to mature, these are a great asset and should be identified so that you do not remove them, for any reason.
Similarly, if you are looking at your property in the middle of the summer, you might not easily notice the movement of animals such as deer, which are more active in cool weather. The signs for these animals are there, but if you are unfamiliar with them they can be easily overlooked.
Before you try to “be the hero” and cultivate the land, check to see what is already there. Take walks in the morning, evening and night. Use all your senses to look, listen and smell what is around you. Any of these could clue you in to something that would benefit you that you might otherwise miss.
By first approaching the land this way, we can make better choices on what to leave as a natural habitat, identify where to find wild edibles, and so on, so that we do not remove these areas or pick the wrong areas to cultivate.
Access to light is an important asset on a property. Whether it is to help your crops grow or to collect for solar power, direct sunlight is almost always best. If your property is on the North side of a hill (for those in the Norther Hemisphere), your light may be limited.
This does not mean that all is lost – just that you need to prepare your land for the types of food that will be happy in the amount of light you can provide.
Pay attention to where the light already shines. There is little point in taking down trees to make a sunny area if there already is a sunny area for you to use for your garden.
If you plant to harvest sunlight for solar power, you will want to identify the area where there is sunlight the longest.
Remember, also, that the sun provides warmth. This is crucial when deciding how to place structures on the property and how you can make use of that warmth.