Los Osos Urban Homestead

~ Level 2 Whole Site Design ~

Level 2 – Whole Site Design

Location: Los Osos, CA

Project Scope: 7th Generation Design developed a Level 2 Whole Site Design for the residents (including one of us) of a 1/7th acre urban property in the coastal California community of Los Osos. Infrastructure already in place included a small house, multiple sheds, and a flagstone terrace retained by masonry blocks. The extremely fine, hydrophobic sand on the property supported overgrown non-native grasses and some ornamental plantings. A basemap of existing conditions on the property is shown below.

Orthographic photo of urban homestead.

Existing Conditions Basemap

Key Design Criteria

The residents developed the following shared vision for the property: to be a beautiful, serene, low-maintenance, functional, and sustainable home environment that will provide nourishment for the bodies, minds, and spirits of the residents and friends who pass through, and connect and inspire the local community.

  • Spaces that facilitate and encourage gathering outdoors with community during varying light and weather conditions
  • Spaces for the residents to express themselves creatively during varying light and weather conditions
  • Growing 50% of the fruit and vegetables, 25% of the meat, and 100% of eggs the residents consume on-site
  • Outdoor play spaces for kids of all ages
  • Systems that minimize the requirement for imported resources/materials (water, electricity, natural gas, soil amendments)
  • Elements that provide privacy, security, and coastal wind reprieve
  • Dog friendly areas
  • Systems that facilitate local travel by non-vehicle means
  • Opportunities to cover a percentage of property overhead through income produced from on-site activities.

Design Map

Design Elements 

Curb cuts
Storm-flow infiltration into soils instead of storm drains.Location: East uphill street boundaries to direct the significant amount of street runoff that currently runs by the property into a “dry creek bed” around the east and south sides of the property.
Fedge (Food Producing Hedge)Visual privacy screen that also produces food. Will help to discourage trespassing and reduce wind.
Located between the east and south street/parking areas and residence/outdoor gathering areas – 4-5 foot high at the southeast property corner to provide provide a welcoming arrival for guests and facilitate conversation with neighbors; 6-8 feet in other areas.
FencingViewscreen for neighbor privacy.Located along north and west property boundaries.
Outdoor Kitchen and Dining AreaWarm season cooking and gathering for larger groups that the house cannot support.Flagstone patio with picnic table and outdoor kitchen containing a wood-fired rocket oven, Santa Maria style grill, sink that drains to landscape, prep surfaces, and fuel-wood storage, and small adjacent drought-tolerant lawn area for gathering.
Perennial plantings
Food and medicine, pollinator attraction.Zone 1 around house and outdoor gathering zone.
Food ForestFood, medicine, biomass production.Locayed in the orchard area on the map, will contain fruit trees with under-story support species
Flow Through VermicomposterNutrient CyclingLocated on cooler north side of the house to convert food waste into a ready-to-plant soil amendment.
RabbitryNutrient Cycling, Food ProductionLocated on cooler north side of the house to convert food waste into a ready-to-plant soil amendment.
Chicken CoopHouse free-ranging chickens at night.located near vermicomposting unit/rabbit pen.
Fenced Food Production ZoneKeep dogs and chickens out of primary food production zone.Will encirle the permanent raised beds, mulched paths, cold frame, and potting table for annual vegetable production.
Greywater System(s)Irrigate avocado trees.Laundry and shower water directed to landscape using a branched greywater system.
Daisy-chained Water Storage (see gallery below)Rainwater storage, emergency water supply, supplemental irrigation.Comprised of six 55-gallon drums on an elevated deck at the highest point on the property. Integrated with house and shed rain gutters for rainwater collection, with overflow directed into water-infiltrating depressions in the food forest/orchard area.
Nursery And Honor StandPlant propagation, plant sales to local community.Nursery area (air prune beds and mist propagation bed) for propagation of vegetable starts and perennial shrubs and trees, with adjacent street-side honor stand for the sale of plants, chicken eggs, worm castings, compost tea, and crafts to the community.
Coral ZoneKids play areaClimbing tree, teepee, small picnic table, fairy flowers.
Rocket Mass Hot Water HeaterWater heating with free stick fuelsLocated on west side of house, integrated with hot water storage tank located in utility closet.
Diamond PileMaterials storage yard/thermophilic composting zoneLocated along west fenceline of property, with gated drop-off area.
Bicycle ParkingVisually obscured area for parking bikes off the streetGated access, will help deter opportunistic theft of human-powered transportation
“Future Zone”Guest accommodations / dance and meditation yurtStay tuned!

Daisy-chained Rainwater Storage System