Permaculture is all about living in harmony with nature. It’s a seamless integration of the landscaping with peoples need for food, shelter, energy,water and other needs in a sustainable way. You may also refer to it as ‘sustainable landscaping’. It’s a holistic world view.
This type of ideal is gaining rapid popularity. It’s about being self-sufficient. It gives more food security which manages the risk of being dependent on grocery stores. It is figuring out how to harness all the resources of your property as efficiently and conscientiously as possible.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being able to live off the land or not be so reliant on others, this is a great practice to implement. It is very similar to indigenous peoples practices of utilizing sun, water, wind and wildlife as well as native plants.
There are guiding principles to consider:
1. OBTAIN FOOD - Not only do you want your landscaping plants to look beautiful, but why not choose plants that serve double duty? There are plants that you could choose for most circumstances that would provide food if you ever needed them to. It’s not that you would have to count on harvesting from all of the plants every year, but it’s about having the capacity to do so should you ever want to.
2. ENERGY - Catch and utilize power on your property. Careful placement of trees is important. Let sun in the windows in winter for passive solar heat, create shade on the house in the summer for it’s cooling effect. Have solar panels, orient your house with the sun, and have a greenhouse.
3. RENEWABLE RESOURCES - 5 examples of renewable resources are solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, hydropower and bioenergy. One idea here would be to consider a rain barrel. You could collect roof rain water in a barre land divert it to plants therefore conserving on water.
4. PRODUCE NO WASTE - This can be a tricky thing to accomplish, but you can at least greatly reduce your waste. In landscaping terms, one of the most obvious things to look at here is composting. Instead of throwing away your compost, utilize it for your plants. They will thank you!! Have you ever heard of ‘hugelkultur’? This is a gardening method that uses logs and branches in the base of a raised bed. These not only reduce the waste of the branches going to the dump, but they also are great for the plants. They will provide nutrients as well as act like a sponge in the base of the raised bed therefore conserving on watering needs which is another principal in sustainable landscaping.
5.DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS - Observe the patterns of sun, rain, wind and topography.Work WITH them rather than against them. Utilize the natural way of things rather than try to force something unnatural. The goal is to get nature to provide the necessities such as water and heating rather than having to provide them off of your income. Let nature do it from here on out.
6. DIVERSITY - Diversity is essential in any sustainable system. You can never count on just one resource to be viable forever. For example, if you want edible plants in your landscaping, but you only want blueberry bushes, that may be all well and good until a disease wipes them out one day. Then, you’d be wishing you’d planted other varieties as well.
7. RESPOND TO CHANGE - Living systems are dynamic by nature. Things can and do change. When changes do happen, be prepared to turn them to your advantage.
The photo is of a high bush blueberry hedge. You may never have considered using blueberries for a hedge, but why not? This is an example of integrating an edible plant into the beautiful landscaping.