Let a Permaculture Garden Work for You


Years of drought and the increased cost of water are getting home gardeners’ attention. To create a water-smart landscape, you can design a xeriscape garden, harvest rain from the roof, install permeable pavers and minimize exotic plants. If you want a water-conserving garden that also takes care of itself, then a permaculture garden is for you.

A permaculture garden uses the natural processes that exist on your property and amplifies them to create a framework where the plants perform well without a lot of human intervention. A permaculture garden appreciates a modest amount of TLC, but mostly likes to be left alone.

The guiding principle behind a permaculture is to collect rainwater and guide it to the root zone of your plants.

Before you design or change your garden, determine where rainwater collects in puddles or ponds in your yard or if it runs off the property. Then decide what kinds of activities you want to do outside and where your functional zones (outdoor cooking areas, relaxation areas, planting areas) will be located. Next, find out what type of soil you have.

Start your permaculture garden by amending the soil with organic matter and soil conditioners to infiltrate and hold water.

Next, divert every drop of rainwater to your plantings by using swales, simple earthen berms and a variety of mulches.

To protect the soil from moisture loss, create mulch beds where you want plants to grow with rock, bark or pebbles.

Identify with stakes where trees, shrubs and groundcover are to be located. The rule of thumb is to locate drought-tolerant plants on the sides of slopes and place plants that need more water on the bottom of slopes or basins.

Install an underground drip irrigation system if you are planting non-natives or non-arid adapted plants, so that the plant water needs can be supplemented efficiently and effectively when needed.

Sow small specimen plants, seeds or sprigs so that the plants adapt to the conditions from an early age. If you want size and volume, plant larger containers and boxes, but you will need to rely on the irrigation system to get them naturally established.

When you’re done, you can relax while the entire system works for you. Your only job is to guide the growth and watch your garden thrive.

Joy Lyndes, LLA, PLA, ASLA, AIA, CA Lic. #4183
Coastal SAGE Landscape Architecture

Categories: Gardening