Page last updated: Thursday, 5 June 2014 - 11:35am

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General layout

Chickens control insects in a vegetable garden and their manure fertilises the crops.

The garden and yard layout is generally designed in zones based on intensity of use — high frequency zones are close to the house, low frequency zones are further from the house. For example a herb garden next to the kitchen provides readily available seasoning for cooking.

Other elements which are visited daily, such as herb and vegetable gardens, fish ponds, worm farms and small animals like rabbits and pigeons, should be all situated close to the house. Easy access is important to enable intensive management of these elements.

Other fruit trees and crops, which take longer to grow and use more space such as pumpkins, melons and potatoes or animals like chickens which are odorous and attract flies should be placed further from the house.

Garden structures like potting and storage sheds can be situated to provide areas of shade and shelter from the wind. To avoid winter shade, place taller (evergreen) plants on the southern side of gardens with shorter plants tapering down toward the north. Pathways, leading to the house can be lined with vegetable or herb borders.

Everything should be considered in relation to other elements. An example is using chickens ranging under fruit trees to eat fallen fruit, fertilise the soil and control insects and weeds.

A well designed permaculture system should be as self sustaining as possible. In a mature system, very little input should come from the outside, apart from labour, sunlight and water. Plants grow biomass which is constantly recycled via animal droppings and compost. Healthy plant growth and lots of species diversity can minimise pest and disease problems.