I'm building an agroforestry (food forest) area in the yard, and was wondering how to exactly lay out the plants so they work well together.

I'm putting in:
Aronia X2
American Persimmon X2
Red Colossal Gooseberry X2
Red White Blue Currant X1 each
Adams & John Elderberry X1 each
Darrow Everbearing Blackberry X3
Russian Mulberry X1

paw paw tree X2
Goumiberry X2

I want to do a polyculture design where the bushes are next to each other ONLY if they need to be.

  • 3
    I think this is too vague, and too broad, to be answered. You haven't said anything about the landscape you're in, the soil, climate, weather or surroundings. You're also asking for a design that would normally take a professional some time to put together, so you're more likely to to get pointers to example layouts than specific answers, if you supply the necessary information to allow specific answers. – Móż Jul 10 '16 at 23:10
  • 3
    Taken from a comment provided within an answer: "Please provide more information about your yard (size, orientation, topography and current use). Where are you located and when where you hoping the establish your system? What kind of design do you want, savannah style or tree lanes (potentially keyline patterned)?" – 410 gone Jul 11 '16 at 5:50

No animal no person could or should do the work for you. You HAVE to put some time and effort into learning about these plants, their height, width, how fast they grow, whether they need low pH or high pH, how much sun they need, are you able to chop your yard into different, separate sections so one section could be less than 6 pH and another 7 pH? Have you done SOIL TESTS? Have you connected with your cooperative extension service of your nearest university?

Do not expect anyone to answer questions that really don't matter in order to be successful with making your own self sufficient forest. You just do not have enough information with which to ask the proper questions nor go after this impossible goal. It will be fun but your expectations are way too high. Any garden, anything us humans make is artificial and our responsibility to make healthy.

  • In about 30 years I'm hoping that the plants will still all be there, but naturalized with just cutting down what doesn't provide food. – a coder Jul 2 '16 at 2:00

Summer can be a bad time for planting trees.

I normally overlay a google map with topography and design on that map. I am not an expert on companion planting with the species you list, but a fungal dominated environment would benefit forest / tree system.

Wood chip mulch will encourage fungal activity, remember rabbit guards rodents also like wood chip mulch and young trees. You can also inoculate your plantings with mycorrhiza or alike.

Depending your yards orientation, one suggestion could be a simple system with south facing undergrowth and higher trees on the back.

  • I want to do a polyculture design where the bushes are next to each other ONLY if they need to be. – a coder Jul 11 '16 at 2:46
  • Please provide more information as requested in the comments to your original question. Map and pictures would be very helpful. Thank you for the edit @EnergyNumbers – andersha Jul 11 '16 at 13:40
  • Summer time in MN the days can get hot, and nights get cold. The yard has sun going up on one side, and down on the other, but there's a stretch of land going east/west on the skinny side . – a coder Jul 11 '16 at 18:31
  • @acoder please provide some kind of map or outline or your property. I would happily help you, but need some more information. – andersha Jul 11 '16 at 18:58
  • 35 east/westX55 north/south – a coder Jul 11 '16 at 19:00

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