‘What is the difference between permaculture design and landscape design?’ is a common question when people are first developing an understanding of permaculture design. It’s a good question!

Permaculture design goes deeper than landscape design. While both seek to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing environment, permaculture design thinks beyond the boundaries of your block. It aims to create connections that will sustain the design well beyond a lifestyle trend. The result is natural and urban elements that are better able to co-exist.

Permaculture design is systems thinking that can be applied to many situations beyond landscape garden design. This depth contributes to conditions that support permanent culture or as we know it, permaculture.

Let’s explore the difference between permaculture design and landscape design. Here are three points that make permaculture design stand out for us.

what is the difference between permaculture design and landscape design

1. Permaculture design works with nature

Permaculture design is about working with the land and natural resources available. Both the home owner and designer take time to observe the resources available. The designer then incorporates these observations into the plan. This develops a self-sustaining landscape and reduces the amount of maintenance required once the system is established.

Landscape design is primarily focused on aesthetics and takes a blunter approach to reforming the land to suit the user. For example, a landscape design would focus on how to remove excess water from a site whereas a permaculture design looks to slow its journey for maximum uptake or store it for later use. You can find out more about the role of water in permaculture design here.

2. The permaculture system is big picture thinking

Permaculture design is big picture, design thinking. It moves from larger patterns inward to site specific details. A permaculture design takes into consideration the way your space interacts with the surrounding area and aims to reduce resource use. In a time where it is clear that we should be striving to leave our environment better that we found it, permaculture design is a tool to achieve that.

Landscape design starts from the micro view by focusing on the wants of individual home owners. When a design starts with the question ‘how do you want the land to look’ rather than ‘which elements of the landscape can I use to my advantage’ the outcome will be different. In the context of designing home environments, permaculture design creates more connections than landscape design. It brings the big picture together with your desires.

3. Permaculture design has a long term goal

A permaculture design evolves over time. You can put in place individual elements as it suits or have a landscape team pull it all together for you quickly. It is a holistic plan that takes into consideration the whole block and the elements that effect it. A permaculture system is broken up into zones based on proximity and priority of use. This enables you to break a design down into projects that can be managed depending to time, money and need.

Landscape design focuses purely on creating a space that includes your desired features. Features are often included with the goal of making the home  attractive to potential buyers. This will be achieved with little thought for the impact of your home on the local area. The aesthetic focus of landscape design means that it often results in a high maintenance area. That large lawn area will require mowing and the chemicals commonly used on lawns will damage the surrounding ecosystem.

what is the difference between permaculture design and landscape design

Measuring contour lines to ensure the design makes the most of existing features of the land.

If you are looking for a regenerative approach, one that supports your lifestyle and ethics, permaculture design is for you! Look beyond traditional landscape design to a beautiful document that will grow with your home.

Do you have more questions about the difference between permaculture design and landscape design?

Feel free to share them below or contact us to discuss whether a permaculture concept design would suit you.