The Physical Landscape

Videos in this section:

  • Water is fundamental to biological systems. Knowing how it works around us and how we relate to it can strongly influence our designs for the better.
  • Earthworks take large amounts of energy to change but can dramatically alter the way water works through our landscapes. Landform being second on the scale of permanence, it is best to consider first before any other aspects.
  • Soils build over time. Their formation can be accelerated and they form the foundation for the plants and animals.
  • Trees & Forests build upon the landshape and soils. They can provide many useful things to the systems we design in the appropriate place.
  • Animals are either a part of all systems or excluded to the systems determent. Properly integrated they can play a beneficial role while living out their lives naturally.

Water

  • What is the difference in scale between the whole of our system and ourselves
  • How does the water cycle work in your area (where does the moisture come from? What is your watershed? Have you visited the different parts of your watershed?
  • Where does your water come from? Where does it go?
  • How is the area around you designed for water? How is it good? How is it not good?
  • What are ways that you can or do reuse water at your home?
  • Would swales be useful where you live? Why or why not?
  • What are ways that you could store water where you live? What would be the easiest to implement?
  • How could you clean the water around you? How would you clean it enough to drink?

Please send answers to the questions above, additional questions, and any feedback to .

Earthworks

  • Why are earthworks the first thing to consider when designing a system?
  • What opportunities to create small ponds, ephemeral or otherwise (opportunities to bring water into the landscape)?
  • The accumulation, movement, and flow of water creates patterns around us in the world.  What around you indicates that water is present at some point? How could you interact with that water and put it to positive use in the landscape?

Please send answers to the questions above, additional questions, and any feedback to .

Soils

  • What is the soil like where you grow or garden?
  • What are the soil types around you?
  • What is their parent material? 
  • How does the makeup of your soils indicate how they were formed?
  • In what ways can we accelerate its formation?

Please send answers to the questions above, additional questions, and any feedback to .

Trees & Forests

  • How managed are the landscapes around you? Where are the more or completely wild landscapes nearby?
  • What is the texture of the landscapes around you?
  • Spend time in the wild places around you.
  • What is the yield from the landscape around you currently? Can it be increased?
  • Are there examples of various stages of succession around you?
  • What are ways that the landscape around you can become more wild?
  • How do we speed up succession?
  • Can you identify the layers in your own landscape? How integrated or segrated are they?
  • What are the functions of the plants already around you?
  • How do the plants around you (or those that you add to the landscape) propigate?
  • What are the species around you that are considered invasive? Why are they so successful? Curiosity about them can lead to alternatives or better relationships with them.
  • What species around you demonstrate variability from plant to plant around you? Try sampling different Mulberry, autumn olive, apple (especially wild or crabapple), cherries, more?
  • Is there any room for USDA practices in your landscape?

Please send answers to the questions above, additional questions, and any feedback to .

Animals

  • What animals are appropriate for your landscape. What lived there historically?
  • What animals are currently a part of your landscape? 
    • What are those animal’s activities and how can they be beneficial to your own?
  • Are there any animal systems near you, good or bad? Are there any systems that invite animals to participate near you?
  • As an animal how do you interact with the landscape? How do others around you do so?

Please send answers to the questions above, additional questions, and any feedback to .

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