DIY Permaculture Design

A thoughtful and well researched site design is the basis of permaculture. Where you choose to place the elements on any given piece of land defines their relationships with one another, and relationships are what it’s all about. The assessment and design process as presented by permaculture offers a sensible, organized way forward through a very complex situation. It can be applied to any property, no matter how small. In fact, many people apply the design process to other aspects of life as well, outside of land use.

Although I have been working on this property for 5 years, it wasn’t until last winter that I discovered permaculture. I enthusiastically set to my design, treating it as if it was the “practicum” in an official PDC course. I highly recommend this as a way to exercise the permaculture thinking tools as you learn them.

If you decide to undertake such a project, Treeyo Permaculture’s Online Course Handbook offers all kinds of guidance, both for the reading of Mollison’s Manual, and the creation of a site design. Also, check out my resource page for TONS of links to various research sites.

I offer up my own design, not because it is so brilliant or perfect, but because I was able to find so little online myself in the way of examples or inspiration.

For a simple overview of this design, check out the Design in Progress page. What follows here is the complete, unabridged winter’s worth of research and speculation.

Before you read my design report, there are three things you must understand:

  1. It reflects a student’s practice design, not a certified permaculture designer’s work.
  2. I am an obsessive person. The thoroughness and lengthiness represented in these (many, many) pages is due to that obsessive nature, not to any actual requirement of permaculture.
  3. Although I am pretty good with a shovel, and no stranger to paper and pencil, I am still coming around to computers. Some of my techniques are a bit… rough.

I have attached the design in several PDFs; perhaps I should have combined them into one, but it would have been a monster file. Not having any experience with mapping software, all my maps are old-fashioned graph and overlay paper, conveyed to the virtual world by way of photographs– which makes them very large files.

If anyone actually reads these and finds them useful or interesting, please, please leave me a note below in the comments section….

Site Assessment (this was by far the most interesting and enlightening piece of this project for me)

Site Evaluation

Functional Analysis of Elements

Design Options

Final Design

Phases of Implementation

Additional, specific research:

List of Plants

Poultry Assessment

Poultry Evaluation

**Because poultry play a key role in my design, and are the element with which I am least familiar (and because of that ole’ obsessive personality), I did a separate exploration of the subject.



  1. Christa · · Reply

    I’m on CJ overload! This makes up for the quiet time on apronstringz, so exciting! These pdf’s – wow. Awesome. I have always been interested in permaculture, though it had never really grabbed me (though lots of other gardening / lifestyle etc. movements had), but after following along and seeing what you’ve done with your research, I am SOLD. I will definitely be looking into it and following along with your suggestions.

  2. Jud Kirkness · · Reply

    Great to see kindred spirits in the Tongass, I’m a groundskeeper for the city and borough of Sitka, and always looking for ways to make the commons of our city less resource intensive and more productive and healthy for the people who pay my wages. I adore the plant list you have put together to help better understand nutrient accumulations and how to make our local plants work with each other in effective landscapes. Always looking for new plant ideas to try here in the tongass, I look forward to hearing more from Cordova.

    1. oh, cool. i love sitka.
      glad you found me! i think that since our landscape is so new up here, so recently out from under a glacier, we are surrounded by tons of great pioneer species, designed to mine the subsoil.i have done some transplanting of natives, but feel like i have barely scraped the surface. there is so much to learn!

  3. Jud Kirkness · · Reply

    Always so much to learn, I enjoy the perspective on geologically new landscapes and their pioneer plants. One of the biggest hurdles I face as groundskeeper is getting people to value the plants that they are so used to calling weeds, they are highly functional landscape elements with volumes to tell about the soils they are working in. I’m still enjoying your resource pages and findings, your work is directly benefiting other people interested in the same subject. Thanks.

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