Permaculture in the garden: tips for planning

What is permaculture?

Permaculture is an agricultural method for a closed circulatory system, in which different plants complement each other (mixed culture instead of monoculture), and in which long-term and sustainable planning is carried out. In contrast to industrial agriculture, the focus is not on financial profit.

The founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren coined the English term permaculture (permaculture in German) and the concept behind it in the 1970s. The term is a composition of permanent For permanent and agriculture For Agriculture, with permanent understanding especially in terms of sustainability. However, there is more to the concept than the biodiversity mentioned: Ethical principles such as mindfulness in dealing with the earth and people and conservation of natural resources also belong to permaculture. It also tries to integrate seven different areas – in addition to land ownership and community, such as finance and economics – to create a sustainable culture.

Permaculture in the garden: 12 principles

David Holmgren has compiled twelve principles that should serve as thinking tools in design:

  1. Watch and act: Know the soil and the (naturally growing) plants in the garden, but also wind courses and sunshine.
  2. Collect and store the energy: Use renewable energy sources.
  3. Generate a return
  4. Apply self-regulation and learn from the results: Design so that the garden regulates itself as possible and you only have a small amount of maintenance
  5. Use renewable resources and services
  6. Do not produce waste: Use things several times, repair instead of throwing away and also use the principle of upcycling
  7. Design patterns first, then details: Know your system and keep an eye on the big picture so that changes in the system, i.e. the details as a whole, are not out of balance
  8. Integrate instead of delimit: Try to arrange the elements in the garden so that they can serve each other.
  9. Bet on small slow solutions: It's not about making as much as possible as quickly as possible.
  10. Use and appreciate the diversity
  11. Use marginal zones: Every spot should be used, especially in smaller gardens, including peripheral areas.
  12. Respond creatively to changes

You can find the twelve principles in detail at

How do I create permaculture in my own garden?

Permaculture does not dictate what a garden should look like, it should be a design tool. The following tips will help you:

  • Choose plants that match the regional climate or soil conditions (we remember: observe and act!)
  • Take special features of your property into account
  • Think about how much time you invest and how much income you can use at all
  • Allow biodiversity (fruits, vegetables, herbs, trees, etc.)
  • Choose perennials
  • Design small, intensively used areas, but also large areas with little labor
  • Think about the possible crop rotation (growing different varieties within a season in the bed)
  • Plan which central elements should be in your garden (raised beds, rainwater tanks, animals such as ducks or chickens, etc.)

Permaculture: the 5 zones

Once the rough planning is complete, the five zones will help you to divide up your property. They are divided according to the intensity of work. For example, zone 1 should be close to your home, which could be the terrace in that case.

  • Zone 1: intensive care, e.g. B. Herb garden
  • Zone 2: less intensive care, e.g. B. greenhouse or vegetable garden
  • Zone 3: Occasional care, e.g. B. fruit trees
  • Zone 4: minimal maintenance, pasture
  • Zone 5: nature zone, wilderness and relaxation room

Ideally, all zones are available in permaculture in the garden, but depending on the size of the property, this is of course not possible everywhere. Tip: Either way try to keep the paths short, this will help you in the long term with the management.

Are you a passionate gardener or can you still need some tips for your balcony or garden? On our theme page on garden design you will find many useful instructions and tips on how to plant zucchini or how best to cut currants.

In our Brigitte Community you can also exchange ideas with like-minded people about the flora.