9 Permaculture Practices

Looking to be a better steward of the land? Start by applying these principles in your space to live in harmony with the environment.

  • Permaculture design can help simplify your life and make your landscape more resilient.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • This cistern collects rainwater from the metal roof on the author’s barn. When it’s full, the water flows into a trough for animals, and then into a rain garden.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • A three-bin compost system is an accessible DIY permaculture project to tackle.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • You can use burlap as a sheet mulch to kill off grass and make room for food.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • A variety of perennial plants produced the fruit on this plate.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • Beekeeping is one way to enlist natural allies for pollination and making honey.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • When you select plants, consider which conditions they’ll require, such as sunlight or shade.
    Photo by Paul Kearsley
  • When you select plants, consider which conditions they’ll require, such as sunlight or shade.
    Illustration by Paul Kearsley
  • Lulu is a guardian dog for poultry.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom
  • Rest and relaxation are essential to good health.
    Photo by Jessi Bloom

We’re all stewards of the land, blessed to be living here, and it’s our critical responsibility to make sure we honor the natural resources that help us live. Permaculture design provides a great toolkit for doing this, and it can also help simplify your life and make your landscape more resilient. Practicing permaculture can be fun and rewarding on many levels.

Though it’s complex and can take years to learn, I’m going to help simplify permaculture for you. First and foremost, permaculture is rooted in ethics, which can act as a filter to help you make decisions:

• Take care of the Earth.
• Take care of people — starting with yourself!
• Share resources and abundance.

You can learn from a number of different ecological design principles, creation techniques, and even technical jargon, but I’ll let you save all that for your own adventures in learning permaculture. Here, I’ll focus on some easy ways to get started on your journey.

1. Become a Systems Thinker

Each one of us depends on many different systems to survive — food, water, energy, and soil fertility, to name a few. It’s important to examine these systems and try to understand the elements that make them work, as well as their connection to our lives, so we can create as many self-sustained, closed-loop systems as possible.

Ike K
9/18/2019 5:57:47 PM

The most important tip for anyone early in their gardening career is to realize that the number one crop which they cultivate is their soil! Soil is a limited, not an endless supply of plant nutrients. The more one learns about soil, the better their gardens will reward them in return.

9/13/2019 9:06:02 AM

Apple trees can not tolerate planet trees nearby because of the Juglone they produce Juglone-sensitive plants growing in the black walnut tree’s root zone generally show toxicity symptoms such as wilted and yellow or brown leaves, slow or stunted growth, and death. Apple trees, blackberry bushes, pears and blueberry bushes are sensitive to juglone and should never be planted near black walnut trees.

9/13/2019 8:52:11 AM

I would like to see an article that specifically addresses permaculture or how to maintain or sustain a garden in areas that don't actually have that wet stuff falling from the sky. Where my garden is located and where my Walipini sits we are in a very arid, harsh environment at high altitude. Just about every tip in this article won't or can't apply to us in these areas. With more people moving here I've talked to so many clients that are having a hard time figuring out how to grow in our environment. We have bad soil, hot and dry summers, high altitudes so frost comes early or summer arrives late which translates to much of the fruit trees to not ever bear fruit. Fertilizers are a must, water is hard to obtain, and insects, animals and other pests flock to the "unusual" greens when you do get things to grow. My Walipini is a must here, and we've had a lot of success!

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