- Judy Sin
Five Tips to Start Your Backyard Homestead in Lamorinda CA
Updated: Jan 4
Lamorinda realtor Judy Sin has recently converted her Moraga backyard into a homestead, planting a variety of fruit trees on the hill; replacing the lawn with vegetable beds; with free range chickens and fresh eggs everyday.
Judy isn't the only one with a homestead in Lamorinda (an area just 30 minutes outside of San Francisco). Many residents are using their backyards to raise and grow their own food. Homesteading provides homeowners with a stronger sense of self-reliance, satisfaction, and community. It’s becoming easier and more accessible to transform your suburban home into a homestead paradise.
Follow these simple tips and tricks to help you put your best foot forward and start homesteading in Lamorinda.
Tip #1 - Make a Plan
This step sounds pretty obvious, but before you break any type of ground in your homestead to-be, it is important to take a step back and map out your goals.
What do you want to achieve with your homestead? Which crops are you going to grow? Are you planning on raising animals? These are all important questions to ask yourself when initially planning out your homestead.
Tip #2 - Raised Garden Beds Make Homesteading a Breeze
Using raised garden beds in your homestead are full of benefits. Here are just a few examples as to why raised beds are the superior choice:
They’re more likely to deter pests and weeds than an in-ground bed.
The soil is less compacted and has better drainage.
They are easy to maintain and good for gardeners with limited mobility.
Vego Garden makes your homesteading adventure so much easier with their wide selection of garden beds. They are easy to assemble and can be installed, filled, and planted all in one afternoon!
Save money on soil by filling up the bottom of your raised beds with organic materials. Some examples include chopped wood, leaves, grass clippings, and even vegetable scraps. Over time, these materials will break down and add to the quality of your soil.
Tip #3 - Conserve Water by Ditching Your Grass
Let’s face it: lawns are outdated. They’re a pain to maintain, and don’t even get me started on how much water is wasted to keep it green. Homesteading is all about efficiency, and if you’re getting hung up on trying to keep your grass alive, then your homestead (and your water bill) will suffer.
The solution? A grass-free lawn. Living in Lamorinda (which falls under zone 9b), your plants will be needing plenty of water to stay hydrated in the California sun. Eliminating your lawn allows you to use water in more constructive ways, instead of fruitlessly trying to keep your grass green.
Here are some examples of benefits you can experience after saying good bye to grass:
Pest prevention: unwanted insects such as mosquitoes and mites are less likely to rear their ugly head in a grassless lawn.
Easy to care for: You don’t have to stress about keeping your grass green if you don’t have any!
More money in your wallet: Not only is maintaining a lawn a strain on your water bill, but hidden fees such as pest control, weed control, and lawn mowing really pile up over time.
You can convert your home into a grass-free homestead by grabbing a shovel and digging up the grass until you have a completely blank slate. Don’t throw that grass away, you can use it to help fill up the bottom of your tall raised beds or toss it into a compost bin. Alternative materials you can use in your grass-free lawn include decomposed granite, pebbles, and wood chips.
If you’re not up for the laborious task of digging up your own lawn, you can always hire professional landscapers to get the job done. It’s a small investment towards being free from the grip of mundane grass maintenance.
Tip #4 - Don’t Be Chicken, Add Some Chickens!
Take your homestead to the next level by introducing a flock of chickens to the mix. Chickens are an absolute foundation to a homestead.
They provide a multitude of benefits, including:
Free-range eggs: Free-range eggs are not only tasty, but they provide higher levels of vitamins A, & E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Your happy chickens running around your homestead will be showering you in their delicious free-range eggs as a token of their appreciation.
Pest control: Chickens love to feed off of pests and parasites, many of which can cause harm to your crops.
Fertilizer: Chicken manure is highly sought after by vegetable gardeners- and you’ll certainly have an unlimited supply of it. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous (the three most important elements when it comes to growing stellar veggies). Just make sure to compost it for at least four months to use it effectively.
Feeling intimidated by adding chickens to your homestead? No problem! The people over at Omlet have literally everything you’ll ever need to raise healthy, happy chickens. From chicken coops, to bird feed, and everything in between; make sure to check out Omlet as your onestop-shopping destination for chicken care. Their website also has detailed guides on how to raise chickens.
Tip #5 - Branch Out and Meet Other Homesteaders
The best part about homesteading is that you’re always learning and always discovering, and sharing your finds with other homesteaders is a huge part of being in the community. Reach out to some of your friends and neighbors in the Lamorinda area and let them know that you’ve been getting into homesteading. Chances are that they’ve been considering homesteading as well!
While homesteading is primarily based on self-reliance, it is important to reach out and create a community based off homesteading. Get in touch with other homesteaders so you can share advice, seeds, fertilizer, animal feed, etc. Remember that when we work together, we can mutually create stronger, more fortified homesteads.
Having trouble finding homesteading buddies in real life? Worry not, there is a vast online community of fellow homesteaders who are happy to exchange their tips with other likeminded people. I highly recommend joining a few social media groups and following some homesteading blogs.
Here are some organizations you could join:
Lamorinda Gardeners (Facebook)
Of course, this only scratches the surface of getting a homestead up and running. In fact, my favorite part about homesteading is not about the vegetables or even the chickens. My favorite part about homesteading is always learning more every day.
So, what is my best piece of advice that encapsulates the essence of homesteading? Always keep your mind open to learning new things. Whether that be new gardening methods, new animals, new crops, etc. Homesteading at its core is about building self-sufficiency and none of that is possible if you’re not actively trying to improve on a daily basis.
I hope that this article has only further fueled your desire to jump into homesteading. Look forward to future articles on this topic that dive deeper into building a rock star homestead in Lamorinda!
“How To Start a Homestead: Step By Step Beginners Guide.” GroCycle. https://grocycle.com/ how-to-start-a-homestead/
Nielsen, Lori. “How to Fill a Tall Raised Garden Bed Quick & Easy.” Epic Gardening. https:// www.epicgardening.com/how-to-fill-a-tall-raised-garden-bed/
Stross, Amy. “7 Ways to Start a Homestead (Without being Overwhelmed). Tenth Acre Farms. https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/start-a-homestead/
“What are the Benefits of Raised Beds and How Can I Construct One Myself?” University of New Hampshire Extension. https://extension.unh.edu/blog/2019/03/what-are-benefits-raisedbeds-how-can-i-construct-one-myself
“Why Chickens are Foundational To Homesteading.” The Happy Chicken Coop. https:// www.thehappychickencoop.com/why-chickens-are-foundational-to-homesteading/#