Design Process

GerryShaw [CC BY-SA (]

Our designs begin well before ‘pen is put to paper’. The design process consists of several phases; we start with an initial consultation which is followed by a full survey of your site.  Following the survey an in-depth analysis/assessment takes place out of which the concept design, developed with full client involvement, will emerge. Once the concept design is agreed arrangements for implementation are then decided and finally a plan to monitor/maintain the design.

The Design Process

Permaculture design is about more than just choosing the right things; it is about how we have connected them together and their relationship with the site. It is a conscious design.

Client Goals

Image by Kranich17 from Pixabay

Our initial consultation will look at what our client wants to achieve from their land, what their needs are and what resources they have available. We will discuss the overall vision such as producing their own food and specific wishes like introducing chickens or supplying their own water. We will also look at envisioned time-frame, budget and relative stages.

This consultation can either be in person or online via Skype, using maps and aerial photographs.

Survey - Observations

Labyrinth symbol analyse
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

This phase of the design process is where we will collect crucial data. Researching, site visit(s), mapping and establishing the relationship of a site in relation to it’s surrounding area are undertaken. Determining the sites size, aspect, slope, soil type, water and existing vegetation are some of the features that influence a design.

This process is informed by the landscape itself. Input from our clients, who usually know their landscape well, is invaluable.


Symbolism of thought
Image by Nikola Filipová from Pixabay

This is the stage where we take all of the information gathered in the previous two phases.

Using Permaculture ethics, principles and appropriate design tools and methods we work with our client to make a conscious decision about the best elements to choose.

We also decide how best to connect them together to create a resilient low input, high output system.

Design Plans

Design Example

By following the above process we ensure a sustainable, resilient, ‘more than organic’ design that works with nature, not against it; designed for your land, in your location, with your climate and situation.

Designs are presented as a scaleable vector graphic (SVG) file. Built into the plan is room to work, with client input, with the design to produce the master design.

The master design will also include suggested implementation and maintenance plans.


Doing It
Image by youngki son from Pixabay

The implementation stage is where things start to get done; trees and plants go into the ground, ponds and poly-tunnels get built.

Many clients choose to implement their own design completely, others choose to implement parts, with us (or other trusted professionals that we work with) implementing the more technical parts of the design.

However much thought, time and effort has been given to the design process we may occasionally be surprised by something that doesn’t work as planned; it is only by implementing a plan that we learn how well it works in the real world. Plans are made to be flexible and can be adapted according to circumstances.


maintain health transform
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Designs For the Real World

Built into the plan is room to work with the process of the design, to evolve as time goes on, to incorporate change as it happens and as your needs and what you want to get from your design change.

Permanence is not about everything staying the same. It is about stability, about deepening soils & cleaner water, it is about thriving. Part of the role of monitoring is also evaluation; how well is our design functioning? Permaculture is an ongoing process of harmonious adaptation to nature’s changing conditions.

New goals may be formed based on the evaluation phase and our design process comes full circle and goes around again.

“We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.We can’t control systems or figure them out. But we can dance with them!” Donella Meadows, author of ‘Thinking In Systems’

For specialist works such a tree surgery or groundwork, we work with other trusted, licensed, professionals.

The video shown is from one of our design implementations in York.