There is no one-size-fits-all concept to planning out your homestead, however, there are some key essential elements you should consider when planning out your homestead so that it can be planned out correctly. Here are my 36 epic tips to plan out your homestead correctly.
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Are you ready to learn ins and outs of planning out your homestead correctly?
Ever wonder how to exactly plan out a homestead?
Or maybe, how to plan the perfect homestead? If there even is such a thing.
Grab some coffee and a snack because this post is lengthy, but uber packed with homesteading goodness!
You are either here because:
A.) You are planning on starting a homestead and you want to gather as much info before you start
B.) You have a homestead, but you want to utilize your property more efficiently.
Either way, you’ve come to the right place, my new fellow farmish friend; let’s learn about planning a homestead!
Quick introduction about Our 5-acre journey
That’s me! My name’s Cherelle, but I go by Fancy Farmgirl on my blog here. You can call me whichever! 😀
When my husband (Mr. Hubs) and I decided to move out of the city, and start our very own homestead, we didn’t know too much about the planning process for homesteading, let alone, what we should look for, plan for, or avoid.
We’re kind of risk takers!
I knew I wanted chickens, and I knew I was tired of having neighbors that I could see and hear at all times.
I wanted a garden so we could grow our own food, maybe one day get some larger animals for milk and start raising our own meat.
But besides that, we didn’t know much about how to plan out a homestead or an ideal layout for a hobby farm.
So on a whim, we took the idea of starting a homestead and decided to purchase a 1940’s fixer-upper on almost 5 acres of land. **Insert praise hands!**
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When we first moved to our 5-acre homestead, I had big plans of what I thought we needed and wanted and went right away to plotting out my dream homestead.
There was a lot of hard work, sweat, blood, and tears that went into grafting our homestead, and it was not easy from the beginning… because we didn’t exactly know what we were doing!
But as time went by, things have been tweaked, a lot!
Fast forward years later, after many trials and errors and finding out what works…and what doesn’t, we’ve finally started to understand about designing a homestead property.
So fellow homestead friend, let our trail and error, be at your advantage, so you can learn how to plan your perfect homestead!
How to plan a homestead- What to consider before you buy your homestead Property
1. Determine your purpose for homesteading
This is really one of the most important things to consider because this will determine a lot about the planning of your homestead property.
Before you go into plotting and planning for all your animals and huge garden, let’s determine your true purpose of having a homestead in the first place.
By determining whether you want to:
- Sustain your family with your farm-fresh bounties
- Have a few eggs a day from your very own chickens
- Make some goat milk soap
- Have your own fresh raw milk and dairy products
- Raise meat animals
- Have some extra to sell and make some money
This will really play a big part in choosing your homestead property and planning out your ideal layout for your hobby farm.
However, just because you have 1 acre, 2 acres, 5 acres, 10 acres, or 20 acres of land, this DOES NOT mean you need to utilize every inch.
**We will get to this in a later section of this blog post.
So, determine your purpose of having a homestead, first!
2. How many acres are enough for homesteading?
This is a total and complete preference and solely depends on what you plan to have, and do on your homestead property.
- If you only want a few chickens and a garden for your family, you could easily get away with 1 acre for your homestead.
- If you want some chickens, a decent garden, and maybe a couple of other animals, 2-3 acres should suffice. (With a 2 acre homestead layout, you can easily accomplish a lot. My friend has a little over 2 acres and it’s definitely more then enough to start out a hobby farm.)
- If you want to raise your own meat, have chickens, a large garden, and dairy animals, this when you will want to start looking at acreage that is 4 acres or more for your homestead.
We currently live on 4.73 acres, and I honestly would love to have more one day, but the almost 5-acres that we have are definitely more than enough for our current 5-acre farm layout plan.
3. Is the land cleared or heavily treed?
Luckily, our whole entire property was cleared, which made it fully usable right away.
Here’s a Birdseye view of our property before we moved there:
One major thing to consider when looking to purchase a homestead property is, Is it cleared enough for you to accomplish all your homesteading goals and purposes?
If the land is NOT cleared, will you need to pay someone to clear it out for you to accomplish your homesteading goals?
However, sometimes it’s an advantage having trees on your property because some companies will pay YOU to come take them. But, if they’re not “those special trees”, then you will have to figure out how you’re going to clear your land to make it usable for your homestead farming needs.
Some trees, however, do serve a great purpose for shade for your animals and privacy from neighbors, so I wouldn’t go completely cleared out!
4. If the potential homestead property doesn’t have a current home on the property, does it have utilities already?
There are plenty of amazing, blank canvas homesteading properties for sale out there.
However, if the land itself doesn’t have a well, septic or electricity currently on the property, you are looking at around $60k and up, just to get that installed (at least where we live).
5. Choosing a farmhouse
Depending on where you live, you might need to NOT be picky about the current house on the potential homestead property, and settle for less, or a fixer-upper, unless you have tons of $$$$.
Here in Washington state where we live, they can sell an old 1980’s double-wide on 2 acres for over $325,000. YIKES!
Therefore, when we decided to buy land for homesteading, we knew we’d have to go way down in the size and quality of the house so we could get the acreage we wanted.
**We have since remodeled our house, so it’s not as horrible as it was when we first moved in.
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How to plan a homestead- How to plan the perfect homestead
Now that we got all the pre-planning out of the way, now let’s move forward on the homestead and dive into planning out your perfect homestead. These are going to be the essential homesteading tips you will want to really get deep inside your brain, so let’s continue on…
6. Your homestead garden
Will you use raised beds or plant straight into the ground for your homestead garden?
If you are going to plant straight into the ground, you will want to prep the soil for planting and do a soil test (in fall or spring) to see what it’s lacking and what you need to do to make it amazing for growing your homemade bounties.
We personally use mostly the raised garden bed method, we’ve also practiced the square-foot gardening method to utilize as much garden space as possible.
Square-foot gardening is especially useful if you have a smaller garden space to use.
If you plan on growing enough crops for consuming as well as growing some for selling to friends and family, or a cute little farm-fresh side stand, it might not be economical to build one million raised beds, so you’ll want to go the in-ground planting method and plan your homestead land accordingly.
7. Homestead Garden Placement and layout
After you decide whether or not you will use raised beds or plant straight in the ground for your produce garden, this will help you decide how much space you really need for planting on your homestead garden layout and placement.
Planning our your homestead garden layout is essential to growing your best crops.
Here are a few things to consider when your planning your homestead garden placement and layout
- Your garden rows should be spaced out nicely so you can easily maneuver around, bring a wheelbarrow between the rows, etc.
- Run your garden rows North and South for equal amounts of sunlight.
- Don’t place the garden in a place that has too much shade.
- Does it get full sun and at what time does it get shade?
- Is your vegetable garden handy to your kitchen?
8. Extra Gardens, aka (herbs, flowers, medicinal, animal garden)
a weirdo awesome like I am, you probably have plans to grow your own flowers and herbs for your chicken’s nesting boxes or grow a medicinal garden for your family, so you can be that person who makes salves and balms.
Don’t worry, you’re not weird! I’m with ya on all that!
If you have other gardens aside from your main garden, then this is another thing that will need its spot on your farm layout, so plan it out!
Will you have it near your animal pens, or will the herb garden be near the house for easy snipping… think about the ultimate uses of the “extra gardens” and place them accordingly.
9. Septic Drain Field (make it useful!)
Now before you get all grossed out by the thought of using your septic drain field, here me out!
Since we were just on the topic of gardening, I’d like to add this one next.
All the “sludge” from your septic gets put into a tank, and not into your grass or yard!
Your septic drain field is where the “liquids” like water from showers and baths, doing dishes and laundry… and okay, yes, also your pee is what goes into the drain field.
However, this makes the septic drain field a naturally wetter place. Therefore, why not plant some of those beautiful flowers in that area.
If you love the thought of having a beautiful flower garden where you can cut fresh blooms to place around your home, plant them in your septic drain field, and let the flowers get “fed” by the septic water so you don’t have to worry about watering them much, if at all!
10. Homestead Curb Appeal
Even though you live on a farm, you should still want to make your yard attractive.
I realize your backyard probably won’t have the best looking grass, especially when you have animals, but you can keep the front yard lawn looking great.
If you decide to plant flowers, and shrubbery around your farmhouse, make sure it’s plants that are easy to care for (you’ll have enough to do around the farm already) and MAKE SURE the plants you plant are not poisonous to your animals. That is unless your animals won’t be near them.
Always plan for a few animal escapes though, so be careful and safe. It’s just bound to happen, sorry!
11. Composting on the homestead
Where you place your compost pile is another preference.
Having farm animals leads to what I call, ” A poop overload “.
The question is, what are you going to do with that poop? Turn it into compost, duh!
Most people recommend that your compost should be placed near the barn or animal pens, and garden.
If you don’t want an actual compost bin like this one, you can also make a compost pile or compost heap.
Just be warned that it might attract wild animals.
12. Fruit Trees
Does your potential or current homestead have existing and well-established fruit trees?
If so, this is a huge, HUGE plus, and I cannot stress this enough.
Our property came with 5 large apple trees that produce hundreds and hundreds of apples per year!
Our apple trees did need some help though, and with a good pruning, most trees can be brought back to life and produce beautiful fruit.
If your homestead property does NOT have existing fruit trees, you will have to decide whether or not you want to plant some, and if you do, you should have already planted them like…yesterday!
I say this because planting new fruit trees will take years and years to even produce anything worth saving for a family’s worth!
If you’re going to plant new fruit trees, make sure you space them out far enough that they won’t become overcrowded when they reach maturity. Where will you place your fruit trees?
13. Garden shed on your homestead
We don’t have a garden shed currently on our property, but I now understand why people have them. And if you have one, or are planning on putting a garden shed on your homestead property, place it near your garden!!
I say this because, we keep our tools in the barn, or sometimes they get left in animal pens, which means, I have to walk a few acres just to get a rake shovel or the wheelbarrow. It would be so nice to have a garden shed actually near our garden.
So when planning our your homestead, put a garden shed, near your garden!
14. Your homestead Barn
Does your potential homestead property have any outbuildings that can be used as a barn, or will you need to build a barn to suit your homesteading needs?
Our almost 5-acre homestead came with a very old barn. We eventually gave it a new roof and painted it RED, of course, and now it’s looking mighty fine!
Homestead barns can be small or large, and you will need to determine the size you will need to house your animals. You will also want to place it near your animal pens and runs as much as you can, to make trasnferring back and forth to their pastures and barn easy.
My goats hate the barn, btw. They’d rather be outside in their goat run all year round! 🙄
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15. Other outbuildings on your homestead
There are many reasons to need multiple outbuildings on your farm. We already talked about the main barn on your homestead, and a garden shed, but there are definitely other needs and uses of other types of outbuildings.
Just remember this one tip about your other outbuildings: Preferably, you will want to make sure your outbuildings are in close proximity to their specific uses.
Example- The barn near the animal pastures, garden shed near the garden, tool shed close by the house or shop… you get the idea.
16. Chicken Coop
I feel like I can safely assume that anyone wanting to start a homestead and live a more self-sustainable life, wants some chickens. Am I right?!
So let’s talk about chicken coops.
Our property didn’t come with a chicken coop, but it did come with a 3-stall barn which I saw fit to turn one of the stalls into a chicken coop, and we did just that!
Your chicken coop doesn’t need to be a freestanding coop, it can easily be a stall in your barn, or an old shed turned into a chicken coop. Get creative!
Now, speaking of creative, I, Fancy Farmgirl, got super fancy an creative with my chicken coop.
Your chickens need a home and shelter, and I encourage you to decorate it because it makes it more exciting to clean it.
READ >> You can Check out my beautifully decorated chicken coop HERE!
17. The Farm Workshop
This isn’t necessarily a complete must, especially if your homestead farmhouse comes with a garage (ours doesn’t have one), but you will want a farm workshop.
When you run a farm, whether big or small, there will be times you will be making or fixing something.
Cutting wood, building nesting boxes, or anything else farm related is NOT FUN doing it out in the blazing heat, or pouring rain.
I really, really wish we have a farm workshop on our property. But we don’t.
Take it from me, you will probably want a farm workshop if space allows!
18. Bad Weather Shelter (for your animals)
This was one thing I didn’t consider when we first plotted out our 5-acres of land.
We live in Washington state, so rain is very common, and it does snow occasionally, but I never considered what to do in a huge snowstorm as we had a few years ago during what we Washingtonians called, “snow-ma-geddon”.
My goats have a covered 3 wall pen in their fenced-in area, but when we got like over 2 feet of snow and the weather become so cold, we were forced to hurry up and think of something quickly to keep our goats warm.
We tried putting them in one of the stalls in the barn, but they hated being in there, as I mentioned before. They would rather be in the freezing snow, I guess.
So we added a half wall of plywood to their pen outside in hopes to provide extra shelter from the crazy wind and snow.
What will you or put your animals in bad snowstorms? Is there housing sufficient enough?
If you live in an area where you have crazy storms or winter months, you might want to consider having a safe storm shelter for them. Plan that out on your homestead layout!
19. Animal Pastures on your farm
The amount of animal pasture space will greatly depend on how many animals you get and what type of animals you get.
You will definitely want to make sure that you place your animal pastures as far away from the house as possible to keep the animal smells from getting inside your home.
Breakfast just doesn’t taste as good when you can smell the aromas of pig manure at the same time. Just sayin!
Now, I have one caveat here about animal pastures. Please listen closely.
If you’re going to do this whole farming/homesteading thing, let’s do it right and humane, and not shove a million animals on a tiny pasture.
Give them enough personal space to roam and get some good grazing in!
Therefore, if you plan on having 50 chickens, don’t make there “chicken pasture” small. That’s just not even right. Don’t be that person!
However, if you don’t have enough space to give the animals a large fenced in pasture, read on to learn the next little trick…
20. Cross Pasturing on your Homestead
One big homesteading tip I want to tell ya about is the concept of “cross pasturing” or “cross fencing”.
Instead of sticking your animals in one large fenced-in area, consider adding a second, or third, or more other fenced-in areas for them to be able to graze in.
How to Cross Pasture or Cross Fence a pasture Example:
When you use the cross pasturing/cross fencing technique, you give each fenced area a break from being trodden on, eaten, and pooped in, and the manure time to decompose into the soil, and the pasture time to grow again.
When you do this, you can also minimize internal parasites such as worms in animals.
Also, when you plot out the pastures, the pasture gates should be wide enough for your tractor to go through.
Our tractor thankfully fits, but just barely, as we didn’t know this tip in the beginning.
So, you’re welcome!
21. Animals For Meat
On your acreage, do you plan on raising your own meat?
Will your meat animals be put with your other animals, or will they need a separate space to live and separate sleeping quarters?
We currently have pigs we’re raising for meat, and we have them in one of our cross pastured areas, and our goats in the other area.
Plan for your meat animal’s shelter and pastures when planning your homestead layout.
22. Take advantage of Rainwater on your homestead
If you’re going to have a lot of animals or a large garden, you might want to consider making or buying rain barrels to catch rainwater for them.
My in-laws water their garden almost solely with rainwater (we live in Washington). They have a ba-jillion rain barrels.
A lot of times the water that comes from your well might be high in iron, which can lead your goats to be copper deficient, which ours did. We could eliminate this issue if we caught rainwater for them and even mixed it with the well water for them.
Will you need to catch rainwater for any specific purposes? Make sure you decide where you’ll put rain barrels on your homestead layout plan.
23. To Free Range Your Chickens… or Not
I first became obsessed with chickens after reading about them online on homesteading blogs and reading the Fresh Eggs Daily book about raising chickens naturally, which I’ve read over and over, and it’s packed full natural chicken keeping goodness.
After learning all about chickens, I knew once we moved onto our 5-acre homestead, that I wanted to ” free-range ” our chickens.
Well, after about 6 months of letting them completely free-range our almost 5-acre property, and then losing 4 chicks to flying predators, 3 grown chickens to dogs, and 4 chickens to bobcats, I said enough is enough!
Now, hear me out- I do NOT agree with someone putting a bunch of chickens on a tiny pasture area, but I do agree with one putting chickens in a large fenced-in area, and that’s just what we did, and you can also cross pasture their area as well.
We built our chickens a HUGE, as in their spoiled kind of huge, fenced-in area, where they are now kept safe, but still able to scratch and peck around like free-range chickens!
They also do get free range time when we’re home and can check on them constantly or are outside with them.
Use your best judgment and consider whether or not you will free-range your chickens, or if you’ll need to build them a fenced-in pen.
Chances are, if you are going to live out in the boonies, “as I call it”, you’re going to be neighbors with plenty of wild animals. And those same wild animals and birds, want YOUR animals, and birds! 😑
We’ve lost baby chicks to eagles and hawks…
We’ve also lost 3 chickens to two separate domestic dog attacks.
Yeah, you know, because people think it’s an amazing idea to let their dogs just run onto our property, and they ended up killing our chickens. Not going to get into that, but it was very frustrating, especially because we have cameras on our property and was able to catch the entire thing on camera each time, as we weren’t home.
Also, we have witnessed other animals on our 5-acre property such as coyotes, black bear, foxes, bobcats, cougars… just to name a few.
Yeah, talk about scary!
So what will you do for bio-security? Guns, high fences, farm dog? Make sure you come up with some sort of plan for your homestead because predators WILL come. Who am I kidding?! They’re already watching your animals, waiting for a good opportunity!
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25. Animal Food Storage
Animal food storage on your homestead is anything from hay, grains, scraps, and the list goes on.
If you have animals that will need hay, you need to plan on building some sort of hay storage area.
Hay needs to be kept dry and free from dust, and we currently drape our hay bales with old tablecloths. What will you use?
For your other animals, if you need to store things like feed and grain, you have to decide whether or not you will keep this food in the barn or another outbuilding.
If you do, you will want to highly consider putting food in metal bins with lids like these that can’t be tampered with by other animals, such as rats.
Rats can chew through even hard plastic, so I would use these if we kept our chicken’s grains in the barn.
We keep our animals supplements in a metal filing cabinet in the barn, and this has worked out nicely. We also keep their brushes and other first aid stuff in the metal filing cabinet as well.
Where are you going to store your animal’s food? Be sure to place it in a place away from rain and in bins that animals can’t get into.
26. Milking Area
You will want to think about where you place your milking station.
We built a D.I.Y milking stand for our goats and placed it in their goat pasture. But one thing that didn’t cross my mind at the time was, “where will I milk when it’s raining or snowing out?”
Will it be in the barn, outdoors, under a covered area or roof…?
The struggle was real, as you can tell in the above photo!
Some milking tools we have on The Inspired Prairie are:
27. Barn Cats for your homestead
It took us almost three years to finally get barn cats, and I’m so happy we did!
Our two barn cats are amazing mousers and keep the mouse population down in the barn!
If you have farm animals, you will encounter episodes of having an over abundance of mice around your farm, and what a great way to take care of the mice without using chemicals on your farm!
Do yourself a favor and get some barn cats!
28. Hose Spigots on your farm
Where are your hose spigots located on your homestead?
I ask this because it’s a very important topic that we didn’t put much thought into when we planned out our 5-acre land layout and built our animal pastures.
Some questions to consider:
- Is your garden planted near your hose spigots to make watering easy?
- Are your hose spigots far away from your animals and you will be forced to carry heavy buckets of water for them to drink?
Check out my awesome farm hack of how I get our animal water buckets and pails sparkly clean!
You have 4 choices when it comes to hose spigots:
- Put things that need water, close to the hose spigot.
- Get a plumber friend who can put a hose spigot out in the pasture.
- Use an excavator and dig your own trench to put a hose spigot out in your pasture.
- Or, how we do it on The Inspired Prairie, aka, the sort of ghetto-ish way, but it works kinda way… connect many super long hoses together starting at the hose spigot, and trailing all the way to the goat pen and pig pen which is out in the far pasture.🤣
Just think about the placement of where you’ll put things and consider where the hose spigots are located.
29. Kids Play Area on your homestead property
If you have children or are planning on having children, you will want to include them in your homesteading dreams and farm layout plan.
Yes, they will mostly be outside, using their imaginations and becoming one with nature, but you still want to keep a separate area set aside for them to play in, aka, away from animal poop, yet visible from the farmhouse.
We have a trampoline for the kiddos and they also have a mini jungle gym.
The rest of the time they’re kept busy with their dirt bikes or playing randomly outside.
Will you do an outdoor play area for your kids? Where will you place it?
30. Entertainment Area on your homestead layout
I love to entertain and to have people over at our place, especially in the warmer months where we can be outside.
It’s even more fun now that we live on a property where the kids can play ball, and we can host BBQs.
Therefore, we wanted to make sure we set aside an area for “entertaining” on our almost 5-acre homestead because we knew this was one area that was important to us.
Your area for entertaining on your farm layout should be away from the animal pastures as much as possible because no one wants to take a bite of their cheeseburger while simultaneously getting a nice whiff of cow manure. Sorry, nope!
Want to learn how we BBQ on a budget? Learn my 19 frugal tips and tricks!
Will you set aside an area specifically for entertaining guests and family in the backyard of your homestead? Keep it away from the animal pens, friend!
31. Cold Storage/ Root Cellar
If you are planning to do a lot of canning, or store root vegetables, you will need to add this on your to-do list.
Also, if you raise animals for meat, where will you store their meat once processed?
Figuring out where you put a root cellar or cold storage on your homestead property is something you will need to think about.
32. Wood Storage
How will you keep your firewood dry?
We never really thought about this much until we finally installed our woodstove insert and came home with a cord and a half of wood.
We were then forced to hurry up and figure out a place to put and store the wood. We currently store our firewood underneath our deck, however, it does get wet and isn’t the most ideal place.
If you have a wood stove or fireplace, where will you store your firewood to keep it dry?
33. Decorating The Homestead Farmhouse
Mkay, let’s have a little talky poo about the farmhouse.
Listen farmish folks, just because you live in a farmhouse on acres of property, and want to do this whole “homesteading” thang, doesn’t mean your farmhouse or the interior of your home needs to be, well…
How do I say this… ?
Now I don’t call myself the ” Fancy Farmgirl ” for nothing, as I love doing things a little over the top, and our farmhouse was no exception.
When we bought our 5-acre property and farmhouse, our house was old, musty and very outdated
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But we couldn’t leave it that way, and we’ve been busy remodeling it room by room over the last few years.
We took our master bathroom from this, to this…
Our super small and not useful kitchen went from this, to this…
Those are just a couple of the many farmhouse remodels we have done to this house.
So bottom line, just because we want to live a simpler, more self-sustainable life, does not mean our house needs to look like Ma Ingalls’ cabin.
Your home, however, should reflect the personality of your family or yourself, and be warm and inviting.
So if decorating like Ma Ingalls is your thing, then rock it!
34. Plan for more on your homstead
Always plan for more. More kids, more animals, more garden.
If you can easily plot out 2 acres or 5 acres of land, you might consider going a bit bigger if your budget allows!
35. Plan for changes on your homestead
Plan for changes.
You might realize one season that a specific area of your property floods easily, and you might need to completely move something.
It’s not fun, but it happens.
Last year our barn completely flooded when we had an extreme amount of rain for days.
Even though we didn’t and wouldn’t exactly move our barn, we did however, plan for changes.
Raising up hay higher, moving certain bins that were once on the ground in the barn up to higher areas, etc.
Maybe an area gets way too much sun and your animals have no where to escape the heat. Will you need to move them, or add something to shade them?
Always plan for changes and tweaks on your homesteading journey!
36. Get books!
Finally and last, but not least. Spend some money and get yourself some really great books and start your very own little homesteading library of useful books.
Here are some amazing homesteading books:
- Fresh Eggs Daily
- DIY Chicken Keeping
- Duck Eggs Daily
- Nourishing Traditions
- Attainable Sustainable
- The Backyard Homestead
- Complete Book of Home Preserving