[Homestead] Master Plan

Gene GeRue genegerue at ruralize.com
Mon Jan 12 09:29:29 EST 2009

On Jan 12, 2009, at 6:52 AM, Robert Walton wrote:

>> Rob, have you drawn a master plan for your property?
> No, not on paper. I've got a pretty good idea in my head.
> Back field pasture, middle field crop rotation. Front field (7 acres
> or so) is just goat pasture I've not touched yet, but I'm starting to
> get a grasp on how do divide that up. Some areas are sloped and should
> be permanent pasture. I've got a few areas of woods that are dedicated
> to pines, the rest, I favor hardwoods.
> To tell you the truth, until last year, it was a bit overwhelming,
> especially since all of my open land needed to be reworked in order to
> pasture or plant it. Topography is a driving force on the slopes.
> I'd like to hear ideas on how to get a master plan on paper. I'm not
> good at that sort of thing. Like to keep it all in my head.

You have been there long enough to have a feel for the place. Make an  
inventory of your assets: water, trees, buildings, soil types, etc.,  
and also make a list of all you dream of creating. Get a topo map from  
the USGS. Two ways to do the master plan: on the computer and on the  
wall. Computer is better if you have any simple drawing program; scan  
the map and enlarge as needed for detail work, then back to small- 
scale for visual overview. If on the wall, take the map to a place  
that can enlarge to a size you want. Put it up on a piece of sound  
insulation board or something else you can put pins in. Roads and  
water lines and fences are hard to later move so take your time  
getting that layout. Make cutouts for buildings and stick them on with  
pins. Use colored yarn to show wind paths, different color for fences,  
utilities, etc. Once you are happy with the plan, replace the yarn  
with colored pencil or ink.

Random thoughts: roads, shop and garden locations are paramount, get  
underground utilities planned and installed as early as possible, plan  
multiple garden areas and multiple compost heaps. Look for  
microclimate spots or plan to create them with buildings, plantings,  

I drew my master plan many years ago using Freehand. Alas, that  
program became unsupported by Apple OS. I converted to Adobe  
Illustrator but struggle with learning to use it. For building design  
and simple layout I use Punch! Home Design Studio.

Gene GeRue

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