Permaculture is about growing plants together in beneficial combinations - where the characteristics of one plant benefit another, and vice versa. A simple idea is to ensure you have habitat for pollinating insects (e.g. lots of different flowering plants) so you can be sure there are lots of the right kinds of insects around to pollinate your fruit trees when they come into flower too. Another is to use ground covers that don't directly compete with your trees and shrubs, but instead act as a barrier to weeds and grasses especially, which can compete for nutrients in the same soil layer with establishing produce trees.
With any garden overhaul there is a question about how much re-modelling should take place. At one end of the spectrum, new plants can be added around existing garden structures without fundamentally altering the original layout of a garden, at the other end, the whole site can be razed and re-contoured, shaped into something completely different to what has been before.
For our back garden, we have opted for something in between these two extremes: some existing structures remain, but there is a reasonable amount of earth working in the middle of the current lawn to make for better water flows and passive water capture.
One of the challenges for our garden overhaul is how much of the original garden to keep the same, and how much to change. This post shows how we added in a water harvesting feature (a mini swale) within an existing landscaped area, to enable the establishment of new plants - some local bush tucker species!
News from our own garden plus advice about permaculture, plants, growing food and sustainable gardening in Canberra.