Permaculture in landscape design: A brief introduction

What is permaculture? For some, a burning question and for others a… huh? My experience with permaculture-designed landscapes has mostly been on rural farms in mid-coast Maine, though the process can be applied to any size landscape in any location.

Permaculture has been defined as a design method and set of principles for creating resilient human habitats and healthy ecosystems. Many of the guiding principles have been gleaned from the patterns and processes in nature. These naturally forming shapes have been evolving over our earth’s history and portray the most efficient paths for moving energy. Not to mention we find these shapes aesthetically stunning.

Permaculture in Landscape Design: A Brief Introduction
Natural pattern


So why bother using permaculture- why not just plant the garden!?? A big reason is about saving energy- that equates into money, time spent installing/maintaining, and resources just to name a few. Permaculture enables designers and homeowners in observing the interrelationships between elemental forces like water, wind, rock/soil and organisms -including the humans- occurring on a parcel of land. Permaculture in Landscape Design: A Brief Introduction

The end product:

  • A system created with the self-sustaining capacities of an ecosystem: increased efficiency, conservation of resources, and adaptability
  • A landscape created in tune with the needs of homeowners and nature
  • A yard that you are more likely to interact with
  • A design that evokes feelings like those experienced in wilderness settings. De-stress as if in a firefly-lit field or rustling forest…. but in your own yard!Permaculture in Landscape Design: A Brief Introduction

So ask yourself… what are you currently asking of your home landscape and what it could do for you? How would you measure the success of your garden: Level of comfort, presence of ecological diversity, aesthetic beauty, production of plant material yields? How about yearly accumulation of soil and micronutrients or the surplus of food and flowers for family and neighbors? Decline in maintenance over time or lack of pesticides and toxic chemicals around the home? The first step of the permaculture process is observing the already occurring patterns in your home environment.


Permaculture in Landscape Design: A Brief Introduction
Your new ZBA associate! Sam Costello

I hope you’ve enjoyed these photos from Bowdoinham, Maine and I look forward to bringing you more permaculture blogs and related updates with our evolving projects.

Our colleague Samantha Costello lives and gardens on the coast of Maine and brings with her an abundance of agriculture and gardening experience. Sam has special interest and training in the permaculture lifestyle. This is the first part of a series of blog posts on permaculture. ZB