The Permaculture Principles, and How to Use Them

On top of the 3 Permaculture Ethics – Earth Care, People Care, & Fair Share – the visionaries of permaculture, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, created a permaculture principles list to help guide practitioners of permaculture in building the most abundant, ecologically sound, stable, and self-regulating landscapes possible. It doesn’t matter where you are, or what you’re building, these principles will help you to plan and implement your design.

The principles can even be applied to many aspects of your life, from building a house, to planning your water system, or figuring out what to do for a living. It really is a no-nonsense way of looking at things.

Here are the 12 permaculture principles:

1 – Observe and interact.

2 – Catch and store energy.

3 – Obtain a yield.

4 – Apply self-regulation and accept feedback.

5 – Use and value renewable resources and services.

6 – Produce no waste.

7 – Design from patterns to details.

8 – Integrate rather than segregate.

9 – Use small and slow solutions.

10 – Use and value diversity.

1 1- Use edges and value the marginal.

12 – Creatively use and respond to change.

As you can see, the principles are quite general, and can be applied to many aspects of life. 

Let’s look at the first one as an example:

Observe and interact

In the garden, observation and interaction is indispensable, ongoing, and always fruitful. Spending some time in the garden every day just observing will not only help you keep on top of any problems, it will help you learn more about your garden.

You will learn to watch for bugs, weeds, and diseases. Interaction will keep you apprised of impending trouble, and will help you learn how to make things easier and more productive as time goes on. You’ll get to know what your garden needs, and what varieties do best in your garden.

You should apply this principle when planning where to place all of the elements on your property. Spending a year on your property just observing really is the best way to get to know it.

By observing closely, you’ll learn where the sun comes in and where there is shade, where the water flows in and where it flows out, where the wind blows through, and many other aspects that will make gardening, animal care, and planning structures more efficient. And will take much less maintenance in the long run. 

permaculture voices video

Permaculture principles make for easier planning

Having a set of design principles to go to when you’re not sure of your next step can be extremely helpful in getting your thoughts organized and your creative juices flowing. If, for example, you’re unsure where the best place to situate a garden would be, turning to the list of permaculture principles can really help. 

  • Employ your powers of observation (observe and interact) to see what is happening on your land. 
  • What area gets the best sun for gardening, solar power, or a passive solar home? (catch and store energy) 
  • Where are the water flows on the land that you can take advantage of for the garden? (design from patterns to details) 
  • What systems can be integrated with the garden? (integrate rather than segregate) 
  • Where are your edges, and how can you create more to take your garden to the next level? (use edges and value the marginal)

This process can be used with every element in your permaculture landscape, from gardens to houses, ponds to solar panels.

There are always many ways to do something, and none of them are perfect, but you can find the way that works best in your situation if you use this permaculture principles list as a methodical way of thinking about and planning your property.

I’ll be writing about each principle separately, so check those out for more in-depth discussions. Feel free to share your insights or questions below.

Health, Hope & Happiness

Tracy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *