Farm Landscape Design

aguptonMay 14, 2009

My wife and I recently purchased 58 acres, which 51 is currently crop land. We are in our early 30's and late 20's. Our long term vision is to have the entire farm in tree or landscaped. The purchase came with a 5 year lease on the land, but we are able to take 10 acres away before the lease ends for future home site development. We have overall ideas (i.e. pond location, house location, etc.), but we need someone with more vision and experience, aka landscape architect. The issue is most landscape architects work only with smaller residential lots and I feel it would be overstepping their knowledge base to expand to 58 acres. I could keep going, but I'll stop here. Any ideas on landscape design or does any one have a farm with similar experiences.

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You need to decide what areas will be more intensively maintained and what will recive less maintenance and what areas no maintenance.

What big-pictures ideas do you have for this land? vegetable farm, tree farm, wildlife habitat, dirt bike trails?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 8:47AM
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catkim(San Diego 10/24)

I don't completely understand the terms of the purchase and lease. After 5 years will you still have 58 acres, or 10 acres?

In any case, a competent landscape designer should have no difficulty assisting with siting the house location and laying out the surrounding 10 acres, concentrating on views of the home on approach, views from the home, and usage of the areas immediately around the home. That's a fairly ambitious project right there for five years, but if you have the funds to expand beyond, your landscape architect should not find it difficult to at least lay out a general plan for the remaining 48 acres.

You should be able to find a team of architects and landscape architects who have experience with larger projects such as wineries, parks, public open space, resorts, golf courses, university campuses, or care and preservation of historic estates and grounds.

It sounds like an interesting project. What is the topography like? What sorts of properties or development adjoin your parcel?

I did a quick search for award-winning landscape designers in Kentucky and found:

If these groups are not appropriate for your situation perhaps they can refer you to a firm that will be a better fit.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:42AM
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holleygarden Zone 8, East Texas

Are you seriously going to landscape 58 acres? Do you currently live on acreage? I ask this because you will either need enough money to implement the design and even more money for continuous maintenance, or it will take all your time and efforts just to keep up with the maintenance.

One thing you need to look into is taxes. I don't know anything about Kentucky property taxes, but you may wish to investigate either cattle or continue the crops for an ag exemption, planting pines for a timber exemption, or even a wildlife exemption (natural habitat with water available), if these are available in your area.
After that, you need to decide exactly how much money and time you can put into planting and maintaining this acreage. I live on 100 acres, but we only 'landscape' about 5 of it - and that has taken us years to plant and we are almost at the top end of what we can reasonably maintain. This is a whole lot less than what I initially envisioned. Of course, you are younger, so maybe you could do more!

You are naturally excited to have this acreage and have lots of dreams for it. I would just advise slowing down and perhaps doing it in stages by priority so you will not outgrow your limitations on time and money. A good landscape architect can get you started with the landscaping around the house, and a pond, too, and you can expand later if/when you want.

As far as house location is concerned - don't rush into it! Go out there and look not only at the view, but also access, sun direction, winds, soil, and topography. Go numerous times during the year before you make your final selection. Having acreage is a dream come true for many people and I hope you and your wife love living the country life. Good luck! :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 11:09PM
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we have 75 acres and I echo holleygarden's thoughts. Take your time and listen to what the land has to say. When we first bought the property I had visions of orchard, gardens and vineyards on a southern facing gentle slope on the lower half of our property. One afternoon I literally walked uphill, staying with the sunlight as shade crept up the hill from sun setting behind mountains. Bottom line was we decided on a different area higher up because it had more than an hour and a half of extra sun! For eight years we have concentrated on taking care of the and. We cleared about ten acres and each year we buy small conifers, trees and perrenials and put them in here and there. We're concentrating on roadsides and early landscaping of our building site (foundation is up but no house yet). Visualizing the property as a big trainboard or canvas helps. Strategic placement of trees for future fall color is like using a paintbrush...


    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 10:16AM
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Thank you all for your responses. I plan on taking my time with the design. This is why I would like to consult with a designer, to have an overall master plan before proceeding. We don't want to make the mistake of plugging plants with out a plan. Our ultimate goal is to have a few acres that require maintenance, but the rest be in tree provided for free by a forestry department. Other areas might be in wildflower that grows naturally, just mow over at the end of the year. We currently have 1/2 acre and I unsderstand the time and physical requirements. We would like walking trails and sitting areas throughout. There are also CRP programs to pay for ag land not farmed. It is an ambitous plan that we have lots of ideas, just need to wrap our heads around and put it to paper before proceeding.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 11:15AM
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We put our property under such a program and because it is also designated as a farm we qualify for EQUIP etc and our prop taxes are reduced. Forestry Dept helped pull it all together. ANother thought that you might consider is setting up a propagation house for cuttings and can grow a lot of landscaping material yourself since time is on your side.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 1:52PM
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