blog money-back guarantee delivery australia-wide call us on 1300 606 242

Shop By Category

Home » Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Permaculture Garden

Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Permaculture Garden

Shutterstock 2274170363 3 - Garden Express Australia


Permaculturegardens have been growing in popularity over the last four decades, loved for how they mimic the natural world. These gardens can emphasise the harmonious relationship between nature, your home and you.


works by utilising the natural benefits of your space, no matter the size, to reveal the unique beauty of your garden. Understanding the purpose and stages of permaculture gardening can help your garden thrive. The core principles of permaculture gardening apply to both food gardens and ornamental ones.


What is a Permaculture Garden?

The term was coined in 1978 by Australian researcher Bill Mollison and environmental designer David Holmgren. The pair were inspired to design a form of agriculture that was self-sufficient and sustainable, drawing inspiration from ecosystems found in nature.


Holmgren’s 12 Principles

Three ethics define the practice of permaculture: care for the Earth, care for people, and taking only your fair share. Alongside these, there are 12 guiding principles that can help guide you through the stages of planting and maintaining your garden.


Planning: Permaculture Garden Design

To make use of the space and time you have, it is important to have a plan before planting. Consider the environment, layout and soil to ensure your plants have the optimal conditions for growth. 


Outline Your Garden’s Purpose

Your garden should reflect its natural features and your passions. For example, you may consider creating a permaculture vegetable garden if you are looking for a large yield of food. This will be different than if your main goal is to create an ornamental garden. 

Permaculture gardens embrace diverse functionality, so understanding your goal should inform your design. While the plants you choose to complement each other will change based on whether you are creating a food or ornamental garden, the principles of permaculture gardening remain the same.


Observe your Garden 

Understand the light, wind and water conditions of your plot before planting. Keep a journal to track seasonal changes and any differences between sections of your space. Existing structures, vegetation, and access ways can assist in naturally creating a framework for your garden.


Design Your Garden Layout

Section the space into zones, considering environmental factors as well as the garden’s use. For example, herbs that may be harvested often for use in cooking should ideally be closer to the house while less visited plants should be toward the back.


Beginning: Prepare Your Garden

One key feature of permaculture is to preserve nutrients and build up soil, rather than disturbing its natural balance through digging. Gardens can be ‘fed from the top’ using natural decomposition and gravity.


Prepare Your Soil

Prepare the soil by removing any weeds, followed by sheet mulching. Sheet mulching involves layering a thick layer of mulch, and organic material such as wood chips or straw, above your lawn. The layer will decompose and produce nutrient-rich plantable ground. Ideally, sheet mulch in late summer to early autumn to prepare the soil for planting in spring. 


Build Garden Beds

Sheet mulching can be useful, however, it is not the only way to follow the principles of permaculture. Raised garden beds are a great alternative, with the added benefit of reducing the need for you to step on the soil. A permaculture garden bed should be around 15–30 cm tall and can be used alongside sheet mulching to provide visual diversity.


Planting: Choose Your Permaculture Plants

Plant Natives

Whether you are creating a food or ornamental garden, native plants are adept at handling local conditions and are great low-maintenance additions to a permaculture garden. Australia can be prone to harsh weather conditions but natives can withstand these conditions while naturally attracting pollinators. Garden Express offers many Australian native plants of various shapes and sizes, which can be used to create environmentally friendly, beautiful arrangements.


Companion Planting

Planting certain plants next to each other can assist in insect control and the balanced use of nutrients. Some common pairings include:


  • Basil and Tomatoes: Basil can repel flies and mosquitoes and improves yield.
  • Leeks and carrots: Leeks can repel carrot flies and carrots can deter leek moths.
  • Strongly scented herbs and vegetables: Herbs can act as organic pest control. For example, mint can deter ants, fleas and cabbage white butterflies.


Utilise Perennials 

Perennials can provide yields year after year, helping to create a stable ecosystem in your garden. They do not need to be tilled, unlike their annual counterparts, and generally require less work. Garden Express has a wide range of perennials to suit any garden.


Maintaining: Tips to Sustain Your Garden

Plant Rotation

When planting annuals, consider their family and rotate their position in the garden every season to ensure they get the appropriate soil nutrients. This is particularly important for food gardens, as many vegetables are annual.


Below are four common families and their attributes:

  • Legumes: Able to take nitrogen from the air and ‘fix’ it into the soil. Examples include green beans, snow peas, kidney beans and lentils.
  • Nightshades: Often struggle with diseases like blight, which rotation can prevent. Examples include potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants.
  • Cruciferous: Typically shallow-rooted with big leaves, this plant family prefers easy-to-reach nutrients. Examples include cabbages, cauliflower and kale.
  • Roots: Their large root systems can burrow down into the soil to find their own source of minerals. Examples include onions, garlic, celery, carrots and celery.


Plant Stacking

Plant stacking uses space efficiently to maximise harvest and protect plants. Tall plants and shrubbery can protect light-sensitive plants and promote wildlife. Vertical spaces can be filled with vines and empty spaces filled with annuals to attract pollinators and suppress weeds. Garden Express has a broad number of garden structures that can facilitate vertical and horizontal growth.


Make Good Use of Available Resources

Rainwater can be captured to reduce the amount of supplemental water you need, and plant debris can be composted for nutrients. When buying plastic bags of mulch, repurpose the waste to tie up vines or act as protection from winter frost. Be conscious of opportunities to practise sustainability creatively. 


Garden Express: Assisting You Every Step

With time, patience and creativity, permaculture gardens can flourish into breathtaking and unique spaces. They provide an environmentally friendly and rewarding alternative to traditional gardens and can be adapted to work with the size and conditions of your space. Browse Garden Express’ beautiful collection online to view the broad range of quality products and plants to begin planning your garden today.

Comments are closed.