Alicia DeVore

Each year, I like to add a little more to my garden space then the year before. As I started exploring and dreaming about what to add to my vegetable garden, I started about permaculture gardening. I’m always on the lookout for better practices for my gardening.

Discovering the world of permaculture, I eagerly immersed myself in courses to gain knowledge and skills. Applying this newfound understanding, I began implementing sustainable practices in my backyard gardening.

As I delved deeper into this fascinating realm, it became clear that cultivating a garden not only benefits us but also allows us to create natural havens that nurture both ourselves and the environment.

Knowing what works well together and will help you start growing environments that are successful in your own backyard garden. In this blog post, I will share 7 things you need to know about permaculture for sustainable living for your backyard garden.

7 THINGS to know for a permaculture garden

What is Permaculture Gardening?

Permaculture is a natural and holistic approach to designing sustainable systems that create harmony between humans and the environment.

At its core, permaculture is a philosophy that seeks to mimic the patterns and relationships found in natural ecosystems, with the goal of creating resilient and productive landscapes and gardens that can provide for our needs while minimizing waste and environmental impact.

woman smelling purple flower in a garden

7 Permaculture Design Principles of Permaculture Gardens

One: Observe and interact

Observing and interacting with your backyard garden allows you to understand the natural systems at work and use them to your advantage. By closely monitoring and engaging with your garden, you can identify microclimates, soil types, and plant interactions, which helps you make informed decisions about planting, watering, and other practices that promote a healthy, thriving ecosystem.

Two: Catch and store energy

Catching and storing energy in a permaculture garden involves harnessing the power of the sun, wind, and water to maximize efficiency and sustainability. This can include using solar panels, rainwater catchment systems, and wind turbines, as well as planting trees and shrubs that provide shade and windbreaks. By effectively capturing and utilizing these natural resources, you can reduce your reliance on non-renewable energy sources and create a more self-sufficient garden.

Three: Obtain a yield

Obtaining a yield from your backyard garden means growing plants that provide food, medicine, or other useful products. Permaculture encourages planting a diverse range of species that offer multiple benefits, such as nitrogen-fixing plants, fruit-bearing trees, and medicinal herbs. By designing your garden to produce an abundance of useful yields, you can reduce your dependence on external resources and create a more sustainable lifestyle.

2 people working in a garden

Four: Apply self-regulation and accept feedback

Self-regulation in permaculture refers to the garden’s ability to maintain balance and stability through natural processes. This involves creating a closed-loop system where waste is recycled, and resources are used efficiently.

By accepting feedback from your garden, such as signs of pest infestations existing soil, or nutrient deficiencies, you can make adjustments to your design and management practices to ensure long-term success and resilience.

soil with shovel and glove

Five: Use and value renewable resources and services

Permaculture emphasizes the importance of using renewable resources and services to minimize environmental impact and promote sustainability.

This can include using compost, organic mulch, and other organic materials to improve soil fertility, as well as relying on natural pest control methods such as predator insects or companion planting. By valuing and utilizing these renewable resources, you can create a more self-sufficient and ecologically responsible garden.

digging in the dirt with shovel

Six: Produce no waste

A permaculture garden aims to produce no waste by reusing, recycling, and repurposing materials whenever possible. This can involve composting kitchen scraps and garden waste to create nutrient-rich soil amendments, using reclaimed wood and other materials for construction projects, and finding creative ways to repurpose items that might otherwise end up in the landfill. Find out how to create your own compost is in this blog post. By minimizing waste production, you can reduce your ecological footprint and create a more sustainable garden ecosystem.

someone trimming purple flowers

Seven: Design from patterns to details

When designing a permaculture garden, it’s essential to start by looking at the broader patterns in nature and then focusing on the finer details. This can include observing how water flows through your landscape, identifying existing plant communities and wildlife habitats, and considering how different elements of your part start a permaculture garden can work together synergistically. By designing with an understanding of natural patterns, you can create a more efficient and resilient garden that mimics the processes found in nature.

Permaculture is a holistic approach to gardening and agriculture, emphasizing the creation of self-sustaining, harmonious ecosystems that work with nature rather than against it. The term “permaculture” is derived from “permanent agriculture” and “permanent culture,” reflecting its long-term, sustainable focus. There are numerous benefits to using a permaculture garden design, ranging from increased biodiversity to reduced environmental impact.

Using a Permaculture Garden Design

Important Gardening Permaculture Techniques

When implementing permaculture principles in gardening, it’s essential to consider factors such as climate, soil type, and growing season.

  1. Local Environment or Climate: Your garden’s climate will affect the types of plants that can thrive there, as well as your strategies for conserving water and energy.

  2. Soil type: Different soil types have varying nutrient profiles and drainage capabilities, which can impact plant health and growth. Conduct a soil test to determine your soil’s characteristics and choose plants suited to those conditions.

  3. Growing season: The length of your growing season will influence which plants you can grow and when you should plant them. Choose a mix of annuals and perennials to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the season.

Environmental Impact and Benefits

Permaculture gardening has numerous environmental benefits.

  1. Biodiversity: By planting diverse species, permaculture gardening encourages biodiversity and provide habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. Using local native plants helps to create a local environment that is low maintenance and full of perennial plants.

  2. Soil health: Permaculture gardening practices like composting, mulching, and cover cropping help build healthy, fertile soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

  3. Water conservation: Efficient water use through techniques like rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, and swales helps conserve this precious resource.

  4. Carbon sequestration: Permaculture gardens can help the process through which CO2 from the atmosphere is absorbed by plants, soil, and water.

    The more gardening, trees and plants in the environment, the more photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide, use the carbon to grow, and release oxygen back into the atmosphere.

    The carbon is stored in their leaves, stems, roots, and even after they die, in the soil. This makes gardening and forestation effective strategies for offsetting carbon emissions and combating climate change.

Tips for Beginner Gardeners

If you’re new to permaculture gardening, here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Start small and expand gradually: Begin with a small garden plot and slowly expand as you gain experience and confidence.

  2. Learn from others: Attend workshops, read books, and connect with other permaculture practitioners to learn best practices and share experiences.

  3. Experiment: Don’t be afraid to try new techniques and plant combinations. Permaculture is all about learning from nature and adapting to your unique circumstances.

  4. Be patient: Permaculture gardens often take time to establish and reach their full potential. Enjoy the process and watch your garden grow and evolve over time.

What is the difference between gardening and permaculture?

Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants within a space designated for that purpose. It can include a wide variety of plants, from fruits and vegetables to ornamental flowers and shrubs.

Gardening can be done in small urban spaces, like balconies or patios, or in larger suburban or rural yards. One can use garden beds or raised beds to achieve the same goal of growing things that work together.

Permaculture, on the other hand, is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture means “permanent agriculture” and “permanent culture”.

It involves creating sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural landscapes that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. Permaculture can incorporate elements like organic farming, agroforestry, integrated farming, sustainable development, and applied ecology.

Start a permaculture garden using sheet mulching, organic mulch, grass clippings and making sure to plant perennials all use the same permaculture principles while using the natural ecosystem for a low maintenance approach.

Comparison and Unique Benefits

Gardening gives you the flexibility to grow a variety of plants of your choice and nurture them on a smaller scale. It’s an excellent hobby for those who love plant life and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of tending to their garden. Plus, it can provide fresh produce right at your doorstep.

Permaculture, in contrast, is more comprehensive and holistic. It’s about creating a balanced ecosystem that can sustain itself over time. This approach is excellent for those committed to environmental sustainability and self-sufficiency. It requires more planning and knowledge about how different elements of an ecosystem work together but can be incredibly rewarding.

Companion Gardening in Permaculture Gardening

Companion planting is a key technique in permaculture, that mimics the harmony of other plants in natural ecosystems. By recognizing how things naturally work in nature, we can use this knowledge to bring the same benefits of different plants collaborating to support one another’s growth in our own backyards.

Companion planting is about creating a thriving, mini ecosystem garden beds where plants work together in perfect harmony to increase garden yield and productivity.

Here’s an example from my backyard: Marigolds are not just pretty flowers; they also have the amazing ability to repel pests. Planting marigolds near lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, or beans can help protect these plants from unwanted invaders.

marigolds with veggies in raised bed

Companion planting also involves enriching the soil and achieving nutrient balance. This sustainable and healthy approach conventional gardening allows us to cultivate gardens without relying heavily on artificial inputs. By nurturing mutually beneficial relationships between plants, we cultivate resilience and boost productivity.

When designing your permaculture garden, it’s crucial to select plants that improve soil quality, attract beneficial insects and wildlife, or provide synergistic benefits to other crops. This thoughtful orchestration creates a balanced and self-sustaining garden that echoes the wisdom of nature itself.

Ultimately, companion planting in permaculture is not just about productivity. In this garden, every plant has a role, and collaboration is the key to unlocking its true potential. This concept of working with nature is a brilliant use of plants together.

purple flowers with butterfly in garden

Use of Perennials & Native Plants

In a permaculture garden, the use of perennials and native plants is highly valued for their sustainability and resilience. Perennials are plants that live for multiple years, providing a constant source of food, shade, and ground cover. Their longevity reduces the need for annual replanting or reseeding, saving time and resources.

Native plants are those that have adapted in a specific region over thousands of years. They are used to local soil, climate, and wildlife, which makes them more likely to thrive with less maintenance. Native plants can improve soil health, attract beneficial insects and wildlife, promote biodiversity, and enhance scenic values.

A permaculture gardener often chooses perennials and native plants that provide multiple benefits. For example, some plants might improve the soil, provide food, attract pollinators, or offer medicinal value.

Incorporating both perennials and native plants in a permaculture garden can create a more resilient, self-sustaining ecosystem.

woman with orange pants watering with a metal can waterer

How To Start Your Own Permaculture Garden

Starting a small permaculture garden involves several steps:

  1. Observation: Spend time observing your space. Look at the sunlight, wind, and water patterns. This will help you understand the natural ecosystem of your garden.

  2. Design: Design your garden based on your observations. Try to mimic nature by including a variety of plants that can support each other. Remember, diversity is key in permaculture.

  3. Choose Plants: Select plants that can work together. This is where companion planting comes in. Some plants can deter pests for others, some can improve soil nutrition, while others can provide shade or support.

  4. Soil Preparation: Prepare your soil with organic matter. Composting is a great way to recycle waste and enrich your soil.

  5. Planting: Start planting according to your design. Remember to consider each plant’s needs for space, sunlight, and water.

  6. Maintenance: Water as necessary but remember that one of the goals of permaculture is to create a self-sustaining system. Over time, your garden should require less intervention.

  7. Learn and Adjust: Permaculture is a learning process. Observe your garden, learn from it, and adjust your strategies as needed.

Remember, the goal of permaculture is to work with nature, not against it. It’s about creating sustainable, efficient systems that benefit all living things involved.

Creating a Garden with Multiple Functions

Permaculture gardens are not a one-time activity but provide food for human consumption and provide an environment for healthy plants and animal life. The location is productive but attractive and is designed with the seasons at heart. Permaculture gardens offer secluded spaces to rest and play.

Permaculture Books

Books are a great for helping to understand how to create a permaculture garden a way of life that will sustain your gardening experience. Here are few books that I found that you might enjoy about the permaculture garden.

The Backyard Permaculture Homestead for Beginners: A simple step-by-step guide for self-sufficient living; grow your soil and organic food for free with container, raised bed, and vertical gardening Paperback – December 29, 2022

by Laura Garrett (Author)

Small Scale Permaculture – A Permaculture Design Manual for Home Growers (Urban Homesteading) Paperback – March 20, 2023

by Richard Bray (Author)

Permaculture Gardening Made Easy: A 7 Step Beginner’s Guide to Companion Planting, Organic Farming, and Building a Food Forest in Your Backyard Paperback – August 30, 2022

by Perennial Publishing (Author)Garden


What is the no dig gardening?

No-dig gardening, also known as no-till gardening, is a cultivation method that focuses on minimal soil disturbance. It involves enriching the soil with compost spread on top, and planting directly into the compost, allowing plant roots to penetrate the soil beneath.

This method harnesses the power of beneficial soil microbes and is an effective way to clear a weed-infested area. While it may have some initial costs and limitations regarding garden bed mobility, its benefits include maximized output, reduced labor, improved soil health, and positive environmental impact. Over time, the compost layer breaks down and enriches the underlying soil, creating a fertile environment for plants.

If you want to explore different tools that can be used for your garden, then check out this blog post.

What is the permaculture definition?

Permaculture combines the best of landscape and sustainability, providing food, energy, shelter, and more. The term ‘permaculture’ blends ‘permanent’ and ‘culture’ (or ‘agriculture’) to describe a practical way to create harmonious, efficient, and productive systems.

Permaculture empowers you to consciously design landscapes and systems that mimic nature’s patterns and relationships. Embrace this transformative journey and unlock a bountiful world of abundance, while nurturing a balance between plants, animals, people, buildings, and communities.

For more help in knowing how to use permaculture practices into your backyard garden, book a zoom consultation with Create My Garden HERE.

More Resources to Help You Garden:

3 Ways to Increase Your Harvest in Small Spaces

10 Minute Tasks for June

10 Minute Tasks for July

Essential Gardening Tools

Read Other Posts

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

This page may contain affiliate links.  If you click on them, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.  Thanks for supporting me as I try to bring you the most relative and informative gardening content.
About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}