Land ownership for beginners: Our favorite advice

Posted by Tiffany Wilson on June 29, 2016

You bought the land, now what? We take a look at the best advice we've collected about how to build on your land, establish landscaping and even start a farm.

Buying your first piece of land can be a lot like bringing home your first child from the hospital: Once your “baby” is all yours, you can’t help but wonder, “Do they really trust me not to mess this up?”

There are so many questions to be answered when you’re starting out. That’s why we talk to people who have been there to help you understand some of the basics. In Subscribe to Rethink:Rural's monthly e-newslettercelebration of Rethink:Rural’s first birthday, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite tips on owning country land.

Other highlights from our first year:

Homebuilding Tips

How to find the right contractor

You found your dream property, and now you're ready to build your homestead. But how do you find a good contractor? Your builder can make or break the future of your property. A land agent walks us through factors to consider in the search for the best builder.

How to build a green home

Do you dream of building green…until the reality of a designer green-home price tag sets in? Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be so pricey to build a home that - in the end - will save you money by being more energy-efficient than a traditional home. We talk to green home design veteran Marius “MJ” Smook about his top 16 insanely practical tips on building green on a budget. He should know: he’s been in the green home business for more than 50 years!

Kit homes: they’re not all alike

Walk Pakkala has a unique perspective about building homes from a kit: he built two kit log homes in his life, and the results were very different. He explains what he did to build the homes, and the factors in quality that made all the difference between the struggles he had with building and maintaining the first home, and the ease he had with the second.

Walt Pakkala's second kit-built log home was much easier to build than his first. He explains here why it pays to research the company you buy your kit from.

Soil and Landscaping Advice

How to know your soil type - and why it’s important

Before you build that house, put in that septic tank or build that garden, you need to know what kind of soil your land has. A simple $10 test could save you $100s or even $1000s in trouble later on. We talked to a Polk County, Texas, extension agent to get step-by-step instructions.

9 Steps Toward Self-Sufficient Landscaping

What is permaculture? Permaculture is working with, rather than against, nature, using a system of design principles and techniques to develop natural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Wait! Before you use chemicals to kill off all that grows naturally on your lawn, just to use more chemicals to keep what doesn’t grow naturally alive, consider an alternative. Permaculture expert Jessi Bloom offers her tips on ways to make your property more sustainable, self-sufficient and productive using trusted permaculture techniques.

How to build a pond or lake on your property

You found the property of your dreams, but it’s missing one thing: a pond for the ducks to splash in when the summer heat arrives. You want to have one installed, but you’ve heard the horror stories of planned ponds turning out to be dry pits. Permaculture expert Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture explains how to properly incorporate a pond or lake on your land.

Alternative Energy and Water Tips

4 Ways Solar Energy Will Save You Money

A solar energy consultant explains how harnessing solar energy will not only save you money on electricity costs, but it could also earn you money as the electric company “buys back” the energy you don’t use.

4 Rainwater Harvesting Myths Debunked

Rainwater Harvest School founder Scott Shaffer explains the correct, safe way to harvest rainwater to ensure it is safe for drinking.


Farming Tips for Beginners

How to Start and Run a Successful CSA

The owner of Cane Creek Farms in Cummings, Georgia, explains how her family started a successful Community Supported Agriculture farm, in which members of the community invest in the crops in exchange for a regular share in the bounty.

5 Steps to Aquaponics Success

Meg Stout, the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Aquaponics explains how to set up your own aquaponic system. The increasingly popular farming method requires much less acreage than a traditional farm, and soil quality doesn’t matter. Instead, the system uses fish to fertilize water that is then filtered and circulated to plants growing in greenhouses.

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Tiffany Wilson

The former editor of Rethink:Rural, Tiffany Wilson has been passionate about writing - and country life - since childhood. She grew up in a log house in the hills of a small town in Upstate New York. She previously worked as a newspaper reporter and hospital communications coordinator. Today, she lives with her husband and children in Yulee, Florida.

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