Permaculture, a new catch phrase in the Green Industry that has people asking: what is it? And/or how can I use it?
By definition permaculture means ‘the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient’ (Wikipedia, 2017). It literally means permanent agriculture. The term was developed and coined by David Holmgren and his professor Bill Mollison in 1978.
What does permaculture actually mean in the real world of landscaping? How can the principles be used? As proponents of sustainable horticulture and sustainable landscaping, it could be as simple as using vegetables (often called edible ornamentals) to decorate an existing garden bed, or laying down newspaper or cardboard before mulching to suppress weeds, and using native perennials to help the ecological system of your garden. There are other ways to use permaculture ideals in your landscape like raised garden beds, rain barrels, and a good compost system that will create nice healthy soil you may use in your vegetable and cut flower beds. Even for your turf, mowing lawns could be done at a higher level like 3” and clippings left in the lawn to fertilize the grass.
For more information on how to use permaculture in your garden read: Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture (Toby Hemenway, 2001) and Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual (Bill Mollison, 1988).