Designing for Details

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Zone 1

In the gathering area on the south side of the home, the existing sidewalk is expanded into a patio, providing seating for gatherings and family dinners. An herb spiral, built using existing stones, sits in full sun near the garage door for easy access to processing herbs for winter storage. A clothesline extends from the garage door to trees across the yard, making line drying from the washing machine in the garage easy – the new patio seating provides a table for folding dry clothes from the line. The wide-open play space remains but a play structure has been added at the west side of the lawn and a tree house in the woods between the septic clean out area of the lawn and the fire pit. A hugelkultur keyhole garden, using birch and cottonwood logs from the property, expands by one bed each year as the family’s needs grow,  forming a mandala pattern. Water in a dug-out culvert comes down the hill to Along side the patio basil and tomato plants grow in a cold frame. A raised bed of strawberries, easy for the kids to access, is watered by a rain barrel at the gutter’s downspout.

Zone 2

Though the chickens are visited daily, the elements in zone 2 need less frequent maintenance. A greenhouse is added to the south end of the chicken coop for starting plants and adding warmth to the coop. Small shrubs and bushes are planted close to the coop, giving the chickens food and shelter from heat and predators. A compost pile comprised of grass cuttings and leaves (so as to not attract bears) gives the chickens another forage area and provides material for sheet mulch garden beds. At the end of the driveway, next to the existing raspberry patch, a broad bed provides growing space for potatoes and squash.

Zone 3

A path of spruce wood mulch creates a welcoming path to the remodeled fire pit to the south of the house. The existing arbor frames the path as kiwi vines climb it each growing season. A sitting wall built from stones on the property offers guests a place to relax year-round. To the north, three fruit tree guilds begin a food forest and offer privacy from the nearby neighbor.

Year one keyhole plan

Year one keyhole plan


Timeline (draft 7/25)


  • Lay out cardboard for hugelkultur keyhole garden
  • Gather old birch and cottonwood logs for hugelkultur keyhole garden
  • Save “greens” and “browns” for sheet mulch
  • take down spruce trees by greenhouse
  • use wood chipper for spruce trees to create patch to fire pit
  • build a long, narrow raised bed for strawberries next to the house – use greens and browns for sheet mulch and plant plants leftover from hanging baskets
  • wire frame for gabion rock wall bench


  • plant vegetables – remember to mulch during the season to retain water and keep out pests
  • install clothesline
  • extend sidewalk into patio
  • build greenhouse onto chicken coop
  • build cold frame next to strawberry bed
  • make and install rain barrels
  • add a second keyhole bed next to the first
  • consolidate wood piles to fire pit area
  • dig irrigation trench and swales in the slope

2015 and beyond

  • start seeds in the greenhouse
  • build herb spiral
  • continue adding keyhole beds as needed



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