Designing an equine property can be challenging. Every horse lover will have a list of questions but one query usually makes every list, “Where Should I Put My Barn?” We all wonder about this because barn placement is so important!
If you’ve clicked on an article that is titled, “Where Should I Put My Barn”, you’re probably well on your way to designing your own horse property… congratulations!!! Here are a few tips to help you deal with barn placement questions.
- The Legal Side of Things
Let’s just jump right into it and get the legalities out of the way. Living in a community often comes with a ton of perks but also, can be a bit restrictive. When deciding where to put a barn, or any other building on your property, it is best to start by looking into the laws that govern your area. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, without a neighbor in site, your county may have ideas on what you can do with your land. It’s best to check in advance and stay on the right side of zoning regulations. If you haven’t bought land yet, check before you buy! Some counties have interesting restrictions on where barns have to be in relation to the road, house, property line, and more. If you’re in an HOA-type of community, they’ll even care about the misc. details, such as barn color and materials. Legalities – this is one area where a mistake would be extremely costly!
- Breathtaking (and Reassuring) Views
After you’ve checked the legal requirements for barn placement in your area, you can move onto another important issue… the view you have of your barn. It may seem superficial to want to look out of your kitchen window and see your barn but, in actuality, it is also a security issue. Being able to see that your horses are safe and happy from the house is a feeling that’s worth its weight in gold. A solid line of sight from the house to the barn will also work to deter possible thefts and let you know if one of your horses is in some kind of trouble. So, not only do you get to enjoy the site of your beloved horses, but having a barn in easy site of the house will also provide a safer environment for your beloved team.
- Topography and Climate
Careful evaluation of your acreage should be done before you decide where to place your barn. Before you pull on your boots and get to walking, however, you may want to consider using the topography feature on Google maps to get an idea of problem areas that may hide themselves during a routine walkabout. Understanding the topography (and soil) of your land before you start to build will improve the daily comfort of both you and your horses. The same is true of knowing your region, its climate, and any microclimates that may exist on your exact acres. Don’t just default to choosing the highest ground! This could prove to be a huge mistake in certain regions.
To keep a barn well ventilated but reduce the chance of allowing cold drafts in, you need to know the wind and weather patterns. Educating yourself on these topics will help you position your barn so that it captures the cooling breezes of summer but can stave off winter’s worst. During harsh weather, barn door can simply be closed off but if winds are too high, they’ll still pose a risk. You’ll only understand this after you’ve done your homework. Roofs should be positioned to make the most of the sun’s warmth in the cold season and angled to take advantage of powerful rays if you plan on gearing your barn up with solar.
- The All-Important Drainage
Spend some time on your land, in your pastures, and along the potential fenceline. This will help you learn about how the property drains and what its trouble spots may be. Drainage is one of the most important considerations for a healthy horse farm but it’s one that can be neglected if you’re in too much of a rush. Standing water can lead to skin and hoof problems, safety issues, and provide a breeding ground for insects that spread disease. Living on the land for a while before building, or at least walking your land during a good downpour, will allow you understand natural water drain patterns. In some areas, this may mean you have to wait til the rainy season comes and goes to start building. This may seem like a huge setback but, it’s worth the wait, to gain the knowledge. Knowing these nuances will help you place a barn in the best spot and plan for drainage… both of which will save you tons of money in the future.
- The Call for Convenience
Now is the time to make a list. What are some of the conveniences you’d like with your barn? Warm water? Electricity? Easy access for trailers and veterinarians? A nearby sacrifice pasture? Or maybe you want to make sure the smells don’t bother your neighbors or personal guests? All of these wants should be accounted for during this important “barn placement decision making process”. But be realistic… with the prevalence of solar and other alternative energy sources these days, it may not be imperative that your barn is located close to electricity. However, it’s hard to manage a barn without a nearby water source! If you workout your needs and wants in this pre-planning process, you’ll be one step closer to building the equine property you’ve always dreamed of! And these extra little perks will come together in the future, making your days go by a lot smoother (and happier).
- Don’t Mess With Manure
Manure – the last place placement of this stinky topic is not from its lack of importance but rather from the priority that needs to be placed on it. Let’s face the facts – according to Extension.org, a 1,000 pound horse will produce, on the average, 37 pounds of feces and 2.4 gallons of urine daily, which totals about 50 pounds of raw waste per day in feces and urine combined. That adds up to approximately 8.5 tons a year! Obviously, this amount of waste can prove to be an issue. If not properly managed, you’ll deal with issues such as bugs, illness, strong odors, and a loss pasture land. (Horses, like most other smart animals, will not graze around their own waste.)
When you’re planning a barn, you may also be laying out some of the other farm needs around it so… plan right away for how you will be handling manure build-up. Having an effective waste management system is a must and… most farm owners don’t want their septic or manure composting system to be readily visible (though they may want it accessible for trucks). Since horse barns and horse manure go hand-in-hand, it’s best to plan the barn placement and manure compost locations out together.
To plan the best place to put a barn, you’ll need to first spend some time on the property. Learn about the drainage, wind patterns, topography, soil, and more… all before deciding on barn placement. Take your time. Rushing through such an important project will only cause headaches and disappointment down the road. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Seasoned horse owners can help, as can a horse property designer. After you figure out the barn placement, you’ll be ready to move on to the fun part… your beautiful barn design and custom horse stalls!