I am looking for some help in creating a permaculture garden in an urban rowhouse environment. I am very lucky in that we have garden space both front and back - about 60x16 in the back and about 40ft in front, although a large area in the front is paved with bluestone. I have never had a garden before, and also, since I grew up in the UK am not familiar with the local plants (we are in the NY/NJ meto area) or climate. So all advice is greatly appreciated!
To start with the front, which is the most easily accessible: The front gets sun from the south and west. There are 2 areas of soil, one around a huge black locust tree, and then a patch of about 10x14ft that gets a lot of sun. I am thinking of growing the majority of my fruit and veg in the back as the front is close to a busy road and gets a lot of exhaust fumes as well as rubbish blown and thrown into it (not too appetizing!) My thoughts so far were to create a guild centred around the black locust including clover, rye, yarrow, dill and fennel, and then in the larger area of soil create a herb spiral about 5ft in diameter, and a rockery to catch water and shelter snakes and other animals. I already have planted a buddhlia along the front fence and was planning to add a couple of rosa rugosa to attract birds and insects and screen the street a little. The inbetween areas I was planning to fill with inesct attracting flowers and possibly some edible companion plants.
Opabinia51 had suggested that if I am going to include a water catching rockery I should provide some shade trees such as cedars. Given that the black locust is already so big, if I plant a cedar will I end up with too much shade? So many of the flowers I have looked at seem to need full sun? Also is there any rule of thumb that tells you how roughly how many different plants you can plant in a certain amount of space?
I am sure these are only the beginnings of my questions! I would love to hear the thoughts of you experienced gardeners out there!