There are two kinds of preppers: those who plan to run for the hills and those who hope to stay put for as long as possible. If you are the latter kind, you’ve undoubtedly outfitted your home with every conceivable advantage, from security windows and doors to months-worth of shelf-safe foods. However, if you haven’t even touched your landscaping, you aren’t doing all you can to prepare.
Your yard is more than a useless zone between the unprepared masses and your beloved family. There is plenty you can do to transform your yard into a space that improves your chances of survival, to include growing your own food and cultivating a line of defense against potential attackers. To make your very own survival garden, here are a few tip and tricks:
Build a Natural Growing Environment
It should be obvious, but plants don’t naturally grow in rigid rows like you normally see in landscaped gardens. In the wild, plants grow just fine without weeding, trimming, or pesticide treatments; they continue to bear fruits and seeds without human intervention. You should strive to build a survival garden based on a natural growing environment. Still, that doesn’t mean you can throw seeds into your yard and expect them to grow. Instead, you must carefully construct your natural survival garden to optimize your benefit.
In nature, plants must share water, air, and sunshine, and they protect one another from pests like bugs and birds. This is typically achieved through loosely organized concentric circles. At the center is the tallest point, a large tree that protects shade-loving plants. Outside the shade grow thick shrubs that keep away larger pests like rabbits and voles and outside them, fragrant herbs that keep away smaller pests while attracting pollinators and protective insects like bees and wasps.
Ideally, you should maximize your use of the three dimensions while planning your growing environment. By doing so, you can produce up to five times more food than you might with traditional growing beds. Even better, because your yard will simulate a natural environment, it won’t encourage scavengers and looters to pillage your hard-grown food.
Choose the Right Plants
The plants you choose will ultimately depend on your region and soil. For example, it is unlikely that a prepper in Minnesota will find much luck keeping a citrus tree alive outside in the frigid winter; similarly, peaches don’t grow well in the dry air and soil of Arizona. Additionally, the seasons may impact what plants thrive and produce food and what plants go dormant or die. If you want a hands-off survival garden, you need to research what to plant when — and maybe get some help from qualified professionals during your planning stages.
Here are a few examples of possible plants for your survival garden:
- Trees: citrus, stone fruit, and nut trees
- Shade plants: members of the cabbage family, including kale, broccoli, and arugula
- Shrubs: berry bushes, sweet ferns, and other edible shrubs
- Herbs: basil, lavender, mint, lemon thyme, rosemary, and most any other herb.
Consider Defensive Flora
On one hand, wide-open fields and floodlights give you the visibility you need to see possible intruders before they reach your home; on the other hand, if your home looks inhabitable and defensible, you are more likely to attract people wanting to take what you have for their own. In truth, you might be better served by maintaining defenses that don’t look like defenses — which is to say, using your landscaping to protect you.
The easier you make it to get to your front door, the more likely you are to have visitors. Thus, the attractive and inviting front walkway will need to go. Instead, you should try to make passage into your domicile as confusing and discouraging as possible. Around the exterior of your yard — around the valuable crops of your natural garden — and along the narrow, winding passageway to the interior, you should install plants that are less-than-inviting. Some examples (of varying soil and climate needs) include:
- Creeping juniper grows like a blue carpet covered in thorns.
- Golden bamboo grows in thick clumps, creating a hard, natural wall.
- Firethorn is a tall shrub with thorny stems that makes for another natural wall, but this one is covered in beautiful white flowers and red-orange berries — that aren’t good for eating.
- Sloe or blackthorn grows in hedges of thick, prickly foliage, and the berries can be used for flavoring gin.
- Mountain or blue pine are trees with especially sharp needles.
Be a Diligent Gardener
Even if you do opt for a low-maintenance, natural survival garden, you shouldn’t expect to perform zero yardwork. At the very least, you will need to harvest your crops throughout the seasons, and you will likely need to manage your defensive flora so it doesn’t impede your passage through your yard. Though it takes some effort to build and maintain, your yard is among your most valuable prepping assets, and you shouldn’t neglect it.