Permaculture Principles in Your Garden – Working with Nature

The discipline of permaculture is all about trying to work with nature and not against it.   This means trying to organized the eco-systems at work within your growing space so that they work in relative harmony with one another.  One of the key things to be aware of then when attempting to design a garden to permaculture principles is how plants typically grow when undisturbed in nature.

Generally in the wild, plants organize themselves into layers.  These include:

The Canopy Layer

The canopy layer is the topmost layer of any ecosystem and comprises almost exclusively of trees.  The high branches and leaves of the tree provide shade and shelter for other plants and animals and in some cases fruit and food. 

The Shrub Layer

Ground growing plants that don’t grow up to the height of trees form the second layer of a natural plant eco system.  They themselves also often provide shelter, protection and food to smaller plants and animals in turn.

The Herbaceous Layer

The smaller plants growing out of the soil are the next layer.  Comprising actual herbs and herb like plants such as grasses, these have a valuable role in holding the top soil together and preventing erosion.

Root Plants

Below the herbaceous layer are those plants that grow primarily underground.  Examples include root vegetables such as carrots and turnips.  Many of these plants benefit from the shelter of their larger brethren.

Vines and Vertical Plants

Vine and vertical growing plants grow in between the different layers, taking advantage of other plant types for support and shelter as they grow.  These include vegetable crops like tomatoes as well as Ivies.

Other Tips on Permaculture Design

Avoid empty soil.  Soil that is empty except for what people want grown in it is a mainstay of agriculture and much gardening but works completely against nature.  In nature, if there’s some soil available, something will attempt to grow in it.  These will often be plants that are considered weeds in other fields of agriculture. 

While some plants are indeed detrimental to your overall goals and will leech from and undermine those things you do want growing, it is important to remember that exposed soil is at risk of being eroded and washed away which will leave it unable to support plant growth and in need of repair. 

To counteract this, you need to plan right down to the herbaceous and root layer what plants you will use to keep the soil together.

Use Microclimates

Groups of plants growing together in arranged layers create subtle but noticeable changes to the humidity and temperature where they grow.   Permaculture planning needs to be both aware of this as well as constantly looking for ways to take advantage of this. 

Take Advantage of the Cycle of Life

In nature, new plants frequently grow using nutrients left over from old ones that died before them.  You can take advantage of this by arranging the planting of new plants to coincide with the natural dying off of older ones  This way, your new plants get to take advantage of the fertilised soil and it goes to plants you want growing rather than weeds.  




ADL Success Stories – Dairy Cattle Farming with Annabella Baker

Education opens doors to success windows of opportunity and in at least one case, gates to new possibilities. Such is the case with ADL success story Annabella Baker.  Originally from Italy, but now living in the UK, Annabella faced a tragedy all too familiar to many when she lost her airline job during the Covid

Read More »

Horticulture – Learn the Basics: Three Problems for New Gardeners

Gardens are hard work.  Behind every immaculate lawn and carefully tended flowerbed is a never-ending struggle between nature and gardener. Of course simply leaving the garden to its own devices isn’t really an option; Untended, plants will grow freely for the whole of spring and summer and even into autumn. Worse yet, an uncared for

Read More »

Henry Hoover’s Broken Plug

Some stories of educational achievement soar into the heavens.  Of individuals who through hard work and toil overcame the challenges in their life to achieve. Certainly, at ADL we’ve seen and helped many individuals achieve their dreams through completing a course which helped them get a place at university or begin a new career. This,

Read More »

King Charles and the Grey Goo

If you’ve been in the UK over the past weekend you might have noticed you had a day off on Monday (or looked on enviously as other people had a day off).  The coronation of a new monarch in Charles the Third means a new era. One that the Monarch is especially keen does not

Read More »

Could You Be a Personal Trainer?

If you’re looking for a side business or career that combines a love for fitness and a mentoring role. personal training might be for you Personal training is at it’s heart all about being able to help people live healthier, happier lives.  By combining physical exercise with essential lifestyle changes like diet they help their

Read More »


Scroll to Top


To speak to one of our course advisors, please enter your name and phone number below and click the "Please Call Me" button. We will call you back as soon as possible!

By submitting this form, I provide my consent to ADL to contact me via email or telephone, regarding the course I selected. All information provided is protected in conformity with our Privacy Policy.


required fields are marked with *

By submitting this form, I provide my consent to ADL to contact me via email or telephone, regarding the course I selected. All information provided is protected in conformity with our Privacy Policy.