Permaculture & Your Garden

By Amanda Williams

Growing your own food is an integral part of developing a self-sufficient lifestyle. It is also one that you can own since each person does gardening differently from the next.

Gardens can be self-sufficient in themselves, fitting like a piece of a puzzle into your lifestyle. The idea is to nurture them until they nurture you back.

There are some best practices and tips to consider when you begin to use permaculture practices, but first, why permaculture?

The definition of permaculture involves developing agricultural ecosystems that the grower intends to become sustainable and self-sufficient, as defined by Oxford Languages. The root of the word “perma-” means lasting or ongoing, cyclical. The point is for the land to produce and reproduce exactly what it needs to thrive for many years.

These practices allow the grower to work with natural systems instead of seemingly working despite them. It aligns with the typical motivations and intentions of someone making the change to self-sufficiency.

Consider Your Region

There is not only one way to design a permaculture garden. It makes sense that it changes with every region. Wherever you decide to cultivate your home is where you will develop your garden.

Study the nature occurring around your home. What animals interact with each other and plants around your place? How much does the temperature range, and to what degree? Do you have a natural water source or consistent rainfall?

It might not be possible for you to include every aspect of permaculture design in your space. Studying it gives you a better idea of what applies to you as you form an actionable plan.

Some of the most prevalent positives of using a permaculture design include:

  • Aids in erosion control

  • Nourishes soil health

  • Doesn’t incorporate chemicals

  • Works with nature and wildlife

  • Reduced or zero-waste garden design

  • Saves water

  • Economically efficient

Aspects of Permaculture Design

Building Up the Soil

Soil is not lifeless dirt. It should be full of microorganisms working symbiotically with plants to thrive mutually . Across most of America, we have “killed” our soil. Wherever you are, expect to have to build the land back up.

There are fast ways to implement this that can be paired with longer processes to encourage the healthiest development.

First, if your soil is very compact, use plants or push tillers to break it up deep into the ground. Plants like fenugreek have long taproots that naturally break through crusty surfaces. If it isn’t an immediate issue, use a no-dig system that incorporates earthworms.

Compost is one of the vital aspects to nourish the soil back to health. The process of creating compost involves microorganisms breaking down the food sources held in compost. When you disperse this and incorporate it into your soil, these organisms begin to create a healthier biome.

In some areas, erosion is a gardening factor. Protect your garden by planting it with a layer of ground covers. These can be nitrogen-fixing to accomplish two goals at once, such as alfalfa or sweet clover.


There are many different types of permaculture design to consider, depending on your region. Here are some common ones, but don’t be afraid to blend them. A garden is a work of art.

  • Natural building

  • Involves designing systems that work to improve land sustainability with an edge of production. It creates resilience during natural weather or changes in the landscape.

  • Agroforestry

  • Useful in naturally forested areas. It combines trees and shrubs into a layer along with crops and livestock.

  • Hügelkultur

  • A practice that uses a lot of wood for natural soil water retention supporting a naturally arid region. Like this!

  • Edge Effect

  • Based on the idea that environmental transitions, or the edges of ecosystems, are the most produ