Forest creation

Step 1

Make a list of edibles you want to harvest from your forest. This list can include fruit, nuts, berries, salad greens, root vegetables, herbs and mushrooms. If you wish, you can also make a list of natural medicines like echinacea. From this list, you will select plants that will work in your forest.

Select perennials rather than annuals. While most backyard gardens rely on annuals (plants that die at the end of the growing season and have to be replanted), a forest consists of plants that live for several years.

Step 2 

  • Ensure that you have a wide variety of plants that include herbs, vines, shrubs, trees and fungi. A healthy forest must consist of several layers, including plants that cover the ground, shrubs that need little light, vines that will grow on the tree trunks and the trees themselves.
  • Take care that the plants you choose will work well together instead of competing for resources, and that no plant will attract insects or animals that will destroy your forest.
  • Include some plants that don’t produce edibles but support those that do. You will need plants that boost the nutritional content of the soil by accessing minerals that can’t be reached by the root systems of other plants or by adding nitrogen to the soil.

  • Step 3
  • Design your forest. Keep in mind that, as in a natural forest, you will be creating several layers of vegetation. As a result, you will need to provide manure, mulch, stakes and possibly irrigation until the plants are established.
  • Begin by planting large trees that need full sun exposure. Once planted, trees are extremely difficult to move, so plan their placement carefully. Choose fruit trees that are naturally disease resistant.
  • Place shrubs, which thrive in far less light, around the trees, and add vines, which begin in the shade but climb toward the sunlight.
  • Ground plants cover the rest of the forest, beneath and around the shrubs. If some of them need more sun, plant them at the edges.
     Step 4
  • Consider adding animals to your forest. Chickens, for instance, will keep harmful insects in check. A well-planned forest can supplement your animals’ diet without the risk that animals will destroy it.


  • If you own property that already includes woodland, you can build your garden among the trees and other plants that are already there. You can also build a forest in an existing orchard.
  • The best forest provide food for you and your animals, fuel to heat your home, fertilizer for itself or for other forests you may have as well as natural medicines.

—- some parts taken from

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