Sunday, January 18, 2015

VIDEO: How to Create a Permaculture Design

by , The Permaculture Research Institute:

Geoff’s new video on Creating Permaculture Designs, see the full version on

So you’ve always wanted to design a beautiful plant system in your garden, but baulked at the idea because, quiet honestly, you can’t tell a bean from a cactus or a legume from a walnut and don’t have the time or interest to devote to studying all this plant diversity stuff and biology bores you, but inherently inside you, you’d know that you would make a great designer.

Instinctively, you can spot a nice clump of trees together and you know you could do all this stuff if you could overcome this one small insignificant minor technical stumbling block - a lack of plant knowledge!

Well, like everything in the Internet universe, there is probably an app made for you right now. If there isn’t an app, then its time to head down to your friendly office supply stationary shop and buy yourself one of those little green plastic template thingy with a bunch of circles cut out for you that you used to have at school.

Buy that and some graph paper and a few pencils and a long tape measure, because this week’s lesson is with Permaculture Designer, Dan Halsey who swapped a career as a fashion food photographer to a full-time career as a Permaculture Designer. Dan used to photograph ice in sweet fizzy beverages. Fake ice was used as real ice melts under hot camera lights. A minor bit of useless trivia.

Anyway, Dan says, you need to overcome your lack of tree knowledge, that will always bog you down and the best way to start is by focusing on your pattern knowledge and work on your assembly of tree shapes.

Start with pattern shapes. Don’t worry what sort of trees you need for your garden design. Work on your shape clusters, from the big shapes, down. From the big Diva tree, then to the understory plants and all the way down to the tiny edging plants that create a nice aesthetic grouping. The mainframe shapes, the paths, access and water, ponds, structures and swales come first and then we pattern the landscape with our trusty little green stencil thingy and a pencil.

When it comes to filling in the small, insignificant minor details, the real biology of tree species, Dan has a database for you to enjoy - The Natural Capital™ Plant Database. You need to fill in the details.

What climate zone are you in? What size of tree are you after, the database will filter the details and offer you a spreadsheet for you to select a bunch of trees shapes that will fit your climate zone. Everything from deciduous trees to legumes are in the database. That’s the theory. The links are in the full video on

Watch the full 20 minute video where Geoff Lawton introduces Dan and takes takes you on a tour of his property and then explains his theory of Permaculture pattern design.

Further Reading:

The Natural Capital Plant Database
Practical Plants Database
The Natural Capital™ Plant Database

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