There is nothing like tending to a garden. It’s an opportunity to relax, get a little exercise, and earn the joy and satisfaction of reaping a bountiful harvest of produce, herbs, and flowers.   When you have a passion for gardening, chances are you’re also highly in-tune with nature, with a love for plants and animals, and striving for ways you can benefit the environment.  If you’re ready to take your passion for gardening to new heights, you can easily create a sustainable permaculture garden or transform your existing garden into one in a short amount of time.  

Instead of simply focusing on creating an organic garden that flourishes without the use of chemicals, permaculture gardening goes above and beyond. This type of gardening forms a multi-level habitat for you to share with local plants, animals, and the rest of nature, so that each component of the resulting ecosystem benefits from one to another time and time again.  It’s a fun activity for you and your family to do together, that gives you a deeper appreciation for nature and how to help nurture it.

To set up a permaculture garden right outside your back door, here’s all you need to know to get started:  

Step 1: If building a brand new garden, first research the area for native plants, animals, natural predators, and pests in and around your yard, and plan accordingly.

Step 2: Decide where you want to start or add-on to your garden, making note of what natural sunlight that area receives throughout the day.

Step 3: Write or draw out what plants you would like to include, and list them in groups according to their need for soil, sun, shade, water, specific pests they can attract, etc.

Step 4: Build or buy raised beds above ground for planting your smallest plants, making them big enough so that you will have ample room to reach between plants from the sides as well as the middle. Another easy method for starting your garden is to lay down flattened cardboard boxes to form the length of your garden, making sure to soak them completely so they don’t lift up.  Then add several inches of compost and mulch in preparation of planting.  

Step 5: Whether you use raised beds or cardboard boxes, add several inches of mulch to their surface with the material of your choice.  It can be newspaper, wood shavings, newspaper, and shredded leaves, or hay.  

Step 6: Add several inches of dead leaves, raw kitchen scraps, coffee grinds, and the like to start the compost process, which will help fertilize the soil so you can plant.

Step 7: Begin planting seeds or seedlings, working from largest to smallest, to allow the largest ones to serve as shade for smaller ones that won’t need as much sun.  

Step 8: Arrange plants with the most needs closest to your home, where they can be more protected from the elements, and less likely to get disturbed.

Step 9: Arrange garden beds or sections of your garden according to plants with similar needs based on the list of groups you created.

Step 10: Water the garden.  Create a drip-irrigation system and implement the use of rain barrels to collect and use water.  If using cardboard instead of garden beds, make sure to water thoroughly so it always reaches down to the cardboard layer.  The cardboard will kill off weeds from underneath, which will eventually disintegrate into the compost, along with the cardboard as your garden continues to grow and flourish.

The Benefits of Permaculture

By growing a permaculture environment of any size, you will enjoy so many benefits all year round:

  • Rather than just a source of food, it’s a place where you can gather alone or with family and friends, and it’s also a shelter for local wildlife.
  • Nothing goes to waste.  Natural compost is made from what gardens leave behind, which in turn becomes fertilizer for new garden beds.
  • Animals that frequent your permaculture garden will help ward off pests so you won’t have to.
  • A permaculture garden is low maintenance, and will thrive indefinitely.
  • Save money and live healthier by having home-grown produce, flowers, and herbs at your convenience.
  • Gardening gives you ample opportunity to spend time outdoors.
  • Permaculture gardening reduces your carbon footprints.

Caring for Your Permaculture Garden

Once your garden is complete, be sure to monitor it regularly. It needs plenty of water, mulch, and compost.  As seeds sprout and the plants are established, you can adjust accordingly, keeping in mind the weather and growing conditions needed for each plant.  And that’s it!  Other than weeding and harvesting, and any additional planting you choose to do, your new permaculture garden is ready to thrive on its own.