What is permaculture? Definition & benefits


Having studied organic farming, I enjoy trying out new cultivation methods and other gardening experiments with friends in our community garden. I care deeply about exploring sustainable and mindful approaches to working with nature. This is my biggest passion, but I am also a real ornamental plant enthusiast!

Favourite fruit: strawberry, mango, guava
Favourite vegetables: artichoke, tomato, rocket

What exactly is permaculture? Read below to discover the principles of permaculture and what makes it so sustainable.

Permaculture garden surrounded by trees
Permaculture is a holistic gardening or management philosophy that works in harmony with nature and society [Photo: Beni Kohler/ Shutterstock.com]

It is difficult to explain permaculture in just a few sentences. After all, it is a holistic and multi-layered concept of garden design and sustainable agriculture. The term permaculture is derived from the words “permanent” and “agriculture” and stands for long-term growing and land management. Permaculture is about taking natural cycles and ecosystems as a model and recreating them in the garden.

Definition of permaculture gardening: Permaculture is a form of land use modelled on natural ecosystems. This conscious design method follows the cycles, diversity, and resilience found in nature, according to Bill Mollison, the key-thinker of permaculture.

In this article, we will introduce you to the core principles of permaculture and explain its benefits.

Garden full of veg, flowers and trees
As well as imitating nature, permaculture involves resource-conserving and social action [Photo: Beni Kohler/ Shutterstock.com]

Permaculture: principles and methods

The concept of permaculture was first developed in the 1970s by the Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren; they wanted to design an alternative to industrial agriculture, which pollutes large areas with pesticides and fertilisers without considering the environment and biodiversity. The aim of permaculture is to secure a sustainable yield with as little effort as possible (such as labour, materials and energy). All available resources should be sourced and used in the most ecologically, economically, socially sustainable and mindful way possible.

The three principles of permaculture

  • Earth care: Building humus, supporting soil organisms, soil structure and fertility, preventing erosion and dehydration.
  • People care: Careful treatment of oneself and others, nurturing human relationships, taking responsibility, finding solutions together.
  • Fair share: Harvesting and utilising without loss and in a fair way by sharing with the community.

By the way, the principles of permaculture are not only applied to agriculture and horticulture, but also in other areas such as sustainable urban planning and architecture. All other steps and strategies to consider when planning and designing a permaculture garden can be derived from the three basic principles.

Stones and herbs arranged in a spiral
Permaculture elements such as herb spirals create a microclimate for different plants and animals [Photo: terra incognita/ Shutterstock.com]

Permaculture techniques:

  • Observe and imitate nature.
  • Learn from nature and natural cycles: observe food chains, create habitats that benefit humans and animals, such as wild fruit hedges or fish ponds.
  • Start small then think, plan and act for the long term.
  • Create and preserve diversity: Establish different zones and microclimates, design micro-zones.
  • Optimise instead of maximise, for example by choosing more resistant varieties for cultivation, increasing soil fertility, saving water, establishing polycultures.
  • Conserve resources, avoid waste (zero waste) and recycle where and when possible.
  • Strive towards creative solutions in community projects.
  • Cooperation instead of competition.
Pond full of plants, surrounded by trees
Ponds play an important role in permaculture for water storage [Photo: Casmaria/ Shutterstock.com]

Benefits of permaculture

One of permaculture’s biggest advantages is that it is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. Through the mindful use of natural resources as well as the promotion of biodiversity and natural cycles in the garden, you can cultivate diverse habitats. Permaculture also focuses on producing your own healthy and natural food in sufficient, sustainable quantities.

Summary: Benefits of permaculture

  • Sustainable and resource-saving
  • Ecologically and socially sustainable
  • Contributes to biodiversity and promotes beneficial organisms through different microclimates and diverse habitats
  • Particularly resistant plant communities (high resilience)
  • CO2 binding in the soil through long-term humus build-up
  • Water-saving and water-storing
  • Contributes self-sufficiency of natural and healthy food
  • Focuses on knowledge and awareness of natural ecosystems

Our sustainable and environmentally friendly products from Plantura are compatible with the principles of permaculture. We value a conscious and respectful approach to nature. Discover in our Plantura Shop eco-friendly produced products for sustainable gardening that bring the greatest benefits for you, your garden and the environment.

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