Permacultural "Zones"

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - 12:47pm

For any of you designing a new garden, the following priniples might be helpful. I know that It made me think twice about where to plant certain things! The source of the folling information is the PermaWiki, an interesting source of information (or free-range research on a restful evening.)

In the designing of zones 4 and 5 David Holmgren's permacultural model makes use of the Keyline Design principle in the design of sustainable human settlements and organic farms. Some people go further and make a zone 0 for the human(s) at the center and a zone 6 for the wider world.

Permacultural Zones

  • ZONE 0 The house, or home center. Here permaculture principles would be applied in terms of aiming to reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural resources such as sunlight, and generally creating a harmonious, sustainable environment in which to live, work and relax.
  • ZONE 1 — Is the zone nearest to the house, the location for those elements in the system that require frequent attention, or that need to be visited often, e.g., salad crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste, etc.
  • ZONE 2 — This area is used for siting perennial plants that require less frequent maintenance, such as occasional weed control (preferably through natural methods such as spot-mulching) or pruning, including currant bushes and orchards. This would also be a good place for beehives, larger scale compost bins, etc.
  • ZONE 3 — Is the area where maincrops are grown, both for domestic use and for trade purposes. After establishment, care and maintenance required is fairly minimal provided mulches, etc. are used, e.g., watering or weed control once a week or so.
  • ZONE 4 — Is semi-wild. This zone is mainly used for forage and collecting wild food as well as timber production. An example might be coppice managed woodland.
  • ZONE 5 — The wilderness. There is no human intervention in zone 5 apart from the observation of natural eco-systems and cycles. Here is where we learn the most important lessons of the first permaculture principle of working with nature, not against.

In the desing of zones 4 and 5 David Holmgren's permacultural model makes use of the Keyline Design principle in the design of sustainable human settlements and organic farms. Some people go further and make a zone 0 for the human(s) at the center and a zone 6 for the wider world.

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