Learn How to Design and Plan Natural Gardens

A permaculture system is a unique landscape where plants and animals live balanced in a self-sustaining ecosystem). It commonly involves developing a garden or farm where the plants and animals are put together in such a way that they support each other's growth and development. The garden or farm may change over years, but always remains productive, requires little input once established, and is environmentally sound.

Expand your permaculture know-how

This is an intensive foundation course. If you are only going to take one permaculture this is the ideal choice. If you take this course, do not do Permaculture I, II, III or IV as well (Permaculture Systems contains parts from the others).

This course provides a sound starting point for setting yourself up as a permaculture or sustainable garden designer.


Discover Sustainable Gardening Practices

Permaculture copies patterns from nature, it focuses on the way elements are placed in the landscape and in the way they interrelate, rather than on the individual elements. Other than food production, permaculture encompasses the use of appropriate technology like energy efficient buildings, recycling, waste water treatment, solar and wind energy and composting toilets.

In comparison to modern farming techniques practised in Western civilisations, the key elements of permaculture are low energy and high diversity inputs. The design of the landscape, whether on a suburban block or a large farm, is based on these elements.   

Permaculture Design Course

This course provides a solid foundation for designing permaculture gardens or farmlets. It has been written to cover everything that is covered by the PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate) plus more!. As is the convention in the permaculture industry around the world; our tutors all have a PDC themselves; but beyond that your tutor will also have studied a degree or diploma as well for 3 years or more in a relevant discipline such as horticulture or agriculture.

On completing this course you will be able to draw plans of permaculture designs, and provide advice to others as a permaculture consultant. As with any course at any college though; you need to be realistic and understand that over 100 hours of study, you can only learn so much. To become a really good permaculture consultant will require ongoing study and informal learning as you move on after this foundation course.

Some graduates do nothing more than this one course; and following these foundation studies, set up a permaculture consulting business that grows and develops from that humble beginning.

Others choose to pursue further studies to broaden and deepen their knowledge and skills before launching a career.

Permaculture designers and consultants may be self employed or work within another business (eg. a plant nursery or landscape business). Many do this as a sideline to another job; but some succeed building permaculture into a full time vocation by itself.

Our tutors are more than happy to discuss the career possibilities with you before you enrol. If you want our help, just ask, or use the free careers advisory service (click here)

Course Structure

The course is divided into eight lessons as follows:

  1. Permaculture Principles
  2. Natural Systems
  3. Zone & Sector Planning
  4. Permaculture Techniques
  5. Animals in Permaculture
  6. Plants in Permaculture
  7. Appropriate Technologies
  8. Preparing a Plan

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted, marked and returned with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


Course Duration: 100 hours


Here are just some of the things you may be doing:

  • Differentiate between Permaculture and other sustainable systems.
  • Explain the procedures followed in practicing different techniques which are sympathetic to Permaculture, including:
    • No-dig gardening
    • Companion Planting
    • Biological control
    • Sustainable harvesting.
  • Explain the interactions that occur between living and non-living components in five different natural environments, including:
    • Forest Systems
    • Aquatic Environments
    • Soil Environments
    • Arid Environments.
  • Evaluate different Permaculture designs against the nine Permaculture principles.
  • Distinguish between different garden zones in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain sector planning in a specific garden design.
  • Design a mandala garden for a specific site.
  • Determine the appropriate use of swales on a sloping site.
  • Investigate distinctly different Permaculture systems.
  • Explain different cultural techniques used to minimise the maintenance requirement, in Permaculture systems you study.
  • Determine different animal breeds, which can provide a useful and sustained harvest from a Permaculture system in your locality.
  • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from different types of animals in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain the factors which can affect the success of different types of animals, in a Permaculture system, including:
    • Poultry
    • Aquatic animals
    • Domestic farm animals
    • Insects
    • Earthworms.
  • Describe the husbandry of one specified type of animal, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
  • Determine different species of plants which can provide a useful, sustained harvest from a Permaculture system.
  • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from twenty different plant genera in a Permaculture system.
  • Compile a resource file of fifty information sources for different plants which can be incorporated into Permaculture systems.
  • Explain the factors which can affect the survival of different types of plants, including those used for:
    • Vegetables
    • Fruits
    • Herbs
    • Fibres
    • Building materials
    • Fuel.
  • Explain the husbandry of one specified type of plant, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
  • Explain the relevance of appropriate technology to Permaculture design.
  • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for kitchen scraps in a Permaculture system.
  • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for effluent in a Permaculture system.
  • Evaluate the suitability of different building techniques in a Permaculture system.
  • Explain the application of two different systems of alternative energy in a Permaculture system.
  • Compare differences in the impact on a Permaculture system, of three alternative technologies designed for the same purpose (e.g. three alternative sources of electricity).
  • Evaluate the use of technology in a house (your choose the house).
  • Determine more "appropriate" technologies to replace currently used technologies, in a house you evaluate.
  • Illustrate on a plan, twenty different components of a design, including:
    • Plants
    • Buildings
    • Landscape features.
  • Transpose a simple Permaculture plan to a different scale.
  • Represent an existing site, drawn to scale, on a plan.
  • Describe the stages involved in the process of producing a Permaculture design.
  • Prepare a concept plan for a Permaculture system surveyed by you, which is between five hundred and one thousand square metres in area.
  • Prepare a detailed design for a Permaculture system of between five hundred and one thousand square metres in size, including:
    • Scale drawings
    • Materials specifications
    • Lists of plant and animal varieties.



Where To From Here?

This course is likely to be of value to people who have a keen interest in permaculture. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in natural growing systems. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

Permaculture design
Natural garden design
Garden design
Nature & wildlife

The course will also be of value to people wishing to start a permaculture design business.


Meet Some of our Tutors

.Martin Powdrill, Bsc (Hons) Applied Science (Resources Option), MSc Computer Studies, Permaculture Design Certificate. Martin’s goal as a catalyst for sustainable change brings together his strengths and experience in his environmental, project management, and business backgrounds. For 25 years, Martin has been involved in Telecommunications, IT, Organisational Development, and Energy Conservation & Efficiency, prior to setting up his own Permaculture consulting business.

Bob James Dip.Animal Husb, B.App.Sc., Grad.Dip.Mgt, Permaculture Design Cert

Bob has 45 years experience in industry, having held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. His experience and knowledge is diverse, encompassing the fields of Horticulture, Agriculture, Permaculture, Environmental Management, Business and Professional Writing.

   Maggi Brown RHS Cert Hort Cert Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA)
Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades.