How are permaculture garden designs sustainable?

Sustainable gardening means gardening in a smart and eco-friendly way. 

Sustainability is a lifestyle, and if implemented consistently, promises significant long-term rewards, both with health and cost savings.

It’s all about giving back to mother nature by using organic growing methods so you use less chemicals and adopt more greener alternatives when you’re gardening. 

Permaculture garden designs in your own backyard take a little effort, but more and more gardeners are finding that every step is worth it to create a sustainable permaculture garden layout that not only looks after your plants, but also helps the whole planet.

Reducing Your Environmental Footprint in the Garden

Switching over to sustainable permaculture garden layout design goes a long way to building a garden that you can enjoy, admire and even eat. At the same time, you reduce your environmental footprint, by increasing carbon storage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to plant and animal biodiversity. Here are a few tips to create your sustainable garden pictures:

permaculture garden design fruit tree guild sustainability examples
  • Plant trees – helps to store carbon from the atmosphere into the soil. Trees can cool your home in summer and let in the winter sun.
  • Harness water – collect, store and use as much storm water from your property as possible.
  • Grow your own organic food – helps to reduce the distance your food travels and helps to save water and fossil fuels.
  • Compost your waste – the less green garden waste and food scraps going into landfill the better, and you get to use the compost in your sustainable garden.
  • Take responsibility for your gardening practices – before you reach for the bug spray or synthetic fertilizer, great sustainable alternatives exist.  Use your compost to help feed your plants, and get worms and insects working for you.
  • Go native – use preferably native or Mediterranean plants that need minimal watering.
  • Minimise your use of powered tools – mowers, blowers and brush-cutters can make life easier, but have a negative environmental impact.  Buy an energy-efficient mower, mow less often and keep the grass height to about 4 to 5 centimetres (it’s better for your sustainable lawn as well!).
permaculture garden design kids learning sustainability examples
  • Get the kids into sustainable gardening – if kids learn the right way from the beginning, they’re sure to keep gardening sustainably into the future.
  • Only use renewable resources in the garden – check the source of gardening materials, and make sure you reuse, recycle and renew.  Think about where your pavers, sleepers and mulch come from and how they’re manufactured.
  • Create an ecosystem – plant bare-rooted fruit trees, herbs and vegetables, and attract wildlife to your landscape with trees such as banksias and grevilleas.
  • Create a haven with a diverse range of plants – this increases plant biodiversity, and provides a habitat for animals, beneficial insects and birds.
  • Permeable surfaces – minimize hard landscaping and maximize the amount of permeable surfaces that allow water to percolate and filter down into the soil.
  • Build your garden for the future – make your garden climate friendly and water-wise. Understand your environment, weather patterns and the plants that thrive where you live. There are many permaculture courses online that can help you determine your design essentials.
permaculture garden design layout examples pictures

A Few Essential Tools for Your Sustainable Permaculture Garden Design Examples

  • Compost, mulch and worms – all help to condition your soil and retain moisture, and beneficial insects will work to keep your plants healthy, sustainably.
  • A compost heap or bin – Mature compost ends up as a generous humus to use as a soil conditioner in your sustainable garden. Choose whatever type suits your garden:
    • Three-bay heap for a large property
    • Classic upside-down-bin style to place in an average garden
    • Tumble-type bin that neatly sits on a paved area
    • Bokashi bucket to keep in your kitchen
permaculture garden designs composting 3 bay heap system pictures examples layout
3 Bay Heap System
permaculture garden designs composting classic upside-down bin  pictures examples layout
Classic Upside-Down Bin
permaculture garden designs composting tumble bin pictures examples layout
Tumbler Bin
permaculture garden designs composting bokashi bucket pictures examples layout
Bokashi Bucket System
  • An insectary – a garden plot with at least seven different plant species of varying heights attracts various beneficial bugs to your sustainable garden.
  • Mulch – cover the soil around your plants to help keep in precious moisture.  Use the finished humus from your compost or an organic mulch, such as matured manure, pea straw, pine bark, seaweed or sugar cane. 
  • Worms – worms produce a fantastic by-product, commonly known as worm castings, that attract microorganisms to your soil so your plants thrive. 

Top Tips for Small Sustainable Permaculture Garden Designs

Modern urban living can pose challenges to creating and maintaining a sustainable garden in a small space. If you only have a small backyard or even just a balcony, here are a few tips to get you growing, sustainably:

  • Grow beans, peas or cucumbers on a trellis or tripod in large decorative pots
  • Plant dwarf fruit trees
  • Espalier your trees along a fence or a wall
  • Grow herbs and cherry tomatoes in hanging basket
  • Pay attention to detail – it’s easy to make a small garden look cluttered


What is bokashi bucket composting?

Bokashi starts as a mix of inoculant (a combination of microorganisms, water, and molasses that is mixed into wheat and bran) that can be purchased already prepared, and food scraps. It is placed in an air tight sealed container/bucket, and left to ferment for 2-3 weeks. The mixture produces a leachate (commonly called bokashi tea) containing organic acids, alcohols, and other metabolites. After fermenting, the bokashi mix is buried underground for two weeks, during which it further degrades and releases nutrients.

How can you improve soil quality?

If your soil is not hampered with unusual pH, or extreme nutrient deficiencies, your only job is to support the biological activity of the soil and supply any lacking plant nutrients.

Disturb the soil as little as possible. Try severely reducing digging, plowing, tilling, and compaction. Soil disturbance disrupts soil life, destroys soils structure, removes soil cover, and reduces soil organic matter.
Grow a diversity of plants. Biodiversity supports a more efficient soil ecosystem, and limits pests .
Keep living roots in the soil all year. This is easy with perennial plants, but annual crops take more planning, often necessitating winter-hardy cover crops. Live roots support beneficial soil organisms and produce exudates that strengthen soil aggregates, producing soils with a crumbly structure.
Keep the soil covered. If soils are covered completely with plants, mulch, or crop residues, they stay cooler, moister, more permeable, and discourage weeds.

How do you enrich poor soil?

Improving poor soil is best done by the microbes in the soil. The easy way to improving it is to feed them.

1. With organic fertilizer, apply several times a year.
2. Water deeply and infrequently to keep the soil moist.
3. Grow stuff to fill the soil with roots.
4. If there is nothing is growing, mulch the soil with as much mulch as you can. Protecting the soil from direct sunlight helps moderate the soil environment, making a better place for the soil microbes.

Why is growing your own food sustainable?

Organically growing your own food is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers and products. By organically growing your own veggie garden, you control what goes on the plants and into the soil.
The demands put on our land by commercial agriculture will be reduced.
The energy used to put food on your plate (25-30 per cent of all greenhouse gases produced are the result of agricultural production) will be reduced.
Our waterways will be healthier and cleaner through reducing the demand for irrigation and the chemical load from fertilizers and pesticides.
The soil will be kept healthier by minimizing biomass depletion. We need to reconsider what we eat and how it is produced.
Creating a produce garden is a great way to minimize your impact on the planet.