MY PERMACULTURE GARDEN DESIGN PROCESS

Permaculture Design is not a set of rules you can apply for guaranteed success. It is a process, a toolkit, with pointers and lenses to consider when developing your project. This can be applied to any type of project, setting up a business, creating community spaces, or a private garden. To give you some insight into what this looks like for a garden design I describe the five phases I go through, what a phase results in and how it feeds into the next.

1. OBSERVATION

A garden design starts with a visit to your site. During this visit, we will discuss your wants and needs as well as any observations about the climate in your garden. I will survey the site, take measurements, soil samples and document existing structures and planting. I will ask you questions about several aspects of the garden, and the budget you have for the realisation of the design. If you have any inspiration (such as images or mood boards) this is the time to share it with me.

2. ANALYSIS

Sector analysis for the design of the garden

I will analyse all the information I gathered during the observation to draw a base map of your garden to scale. This will include the existing structures and planting that you want to preserve, as well as access ways, water flows, sources of noise and pleasant sounds, and views that are desirable to look at or hide. I will overlay this with a representation of the sun-angles at mid-summer and mid-winter which informs micro-climates and estimation of sun hours needed for planting schemes. Lastly, I add documentation of relevant historical information and your local climate, including prevailing wind, rainfall, and average and extreme temperatures.

3. OUTLINE DESIGN

An outline design for the front and back garden. Structures are brown outlines, water collection and distribution through irrigation pipes and swales is indicated in blue, the paths are yellow and the defining vegetation is coloured in.

This is a first draft of the design for your garden. This includes rough placement, size and shape of structures, such as raised beds, sheds and patios. It addresses the water capturing and distribution throughout the garden and recommends composting systems. If there will be animal systems, I will recommend a spot for them too, think of beehives, chickens or larger grazing areas for sheep. Lastly, this design includes a basic planting scheme looking at defining features such as trees, shrubs and vegetable-herb-flower beds. After I have walked you through this first design, you get some time to consider it and give your thoughts and feedback.

4. FINAL DESIGN

Impression of realised design front and back garden

The final design is a detailed map with structures, water-, composting- and animal systems in their final locations, dimensions and materials. I will have composed plant communities tailored to the micro-climates in your garden and your preferences. For example, this can include a supportive environment for the plant that grows your favourite tea. To capture all the details I will zoom in on certain sections of the design with additional technical drawings and plant schemes where needed. Lastly, I will bring the design to life with an impression drawing so you can get a feel of what it might look like in 3D.

5. REALISATION

First steps in the realization of a garden design. Here I'm planning the foundations for a raised bed that I'm making out of reclaimed bricks.

The last step is to go from design to realisation. I will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to complete the build of your garden. This includes a proposed schedule of tasks divided by season until completion. This will be based on the time you have available, whether you will be doing the work yourself, with my help or in collaboration with gardeners and landscapers, and your budget per month/year. As the garden will be full of edible plants, I will provide a tailored overview of your plants, their use and how to care for them. Along with this, you will get an introduction to permaculture and pointers on where to get more information.

And then sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labour!