Permaculture II (Plants for Permaculture)

Study plants for a permaculture landscape, ecology, selection, establishment, use. Extensive 100 hour specialised training for permaculturists.

Course CodeVSS105
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Click on Enrol Now to See Our Payment Plans Available. No Obligation.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

"Learn to make Better Use  of Plants in Permaculture"

There are tens of thousands of different plants that can be used in a permaculture system; and it is a massive task to even start to understand the nature and scope of this subject.

This is a course for people who already have a basic understanding of permaculture; who are looking to move their knowledge to the next level.

Our team of tutors have extensive experience in production horticulture and sustainable land management as well as permaculture; and come from across both Australia and the UK. We have crammed a lot of information into this study program, and for those who are up to the challenge it can be an excellent way to develop your permaculture expertise beyond where it currently is. 

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Permaculture Gardens –Different Garden Systems
    • Function
    • Aesthetics
    • Ways of growing plants
    • Environmental conditions
    • Plant establishment
    • Growing in spirals
    • No Dig Beds or Composting Mounds
    • Organic Growing
    • Helping Plant Establishment
    • Trickle or Drip Irrigation
    • Mulching
    • Common types of organic mulch
    • Rules for How to mulch
    • Problems with mulching
    • Living mulch
    • Tree guards
    • Reduced cultivation
    • Crop rotation
    • Establishing plants on slopes –pocket planting, slope serration, wattling
    • Planting on arid sites
    • Direct seeding
    • Spray seeding
    • No till planting in lawns
    • Raised beds
    • Growing in pots
    • Biodynamics introduction
    • Biodynamic principles
    • Developing a biodynamic property
    • Biodynamic preparations and sprays
    • Soil degradation
    • Understanding and managing erosion
    • Salinity
    • Soil acidification
    • Soil compaction
    • Chemical residues in soils
    • Improving damaged soils
    • Set Task
    • Assignment
  2. Design –Planning Techniques and Skills
    • The design process
    • Gathering information and pre planning
    • Planning and design
    • Drawing the permaculture plan
    • Design Procedure – thirteen steps
    • How to represent different components on a drawn plan
    • Criteria for choosing the plants
    • Maintaining biodiversity in permaculture
    • Designing for low maintenance
    • Plants for small places
    • Lime loving plants
    • Useful conifers
    • Nut producing conifers
    • Other edible parts of conifers
    • Conifers as a source of oils, resins, building timber
    • Cypress and Pines
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  3. Sector Planning
    • Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    • Sectors
    • Designing and Planting a firebreak
    • Fire prone areas
    • How to arrange a firebreak
    • Considerations
    • Fire resistant plants
    • Windbreaks, hedges and screens
    • Hedges for different conditions
    • Plants for windbreaks
    • Long narrow spaces
    • Growing plants in shade
    • Plants suited to full shade
    • Frost hardy plants
    • Coastal planting
    • Strategies for dealing with salt and wind
    • Hardy plants for inner city gardens
    • Pollution resistant plants
    • Nuts to grow in Permaculture -Aleurites, Argan, Athertonia, Barringtonia, Fagus, Brabejum, Castanospermum, Gevuina, Coconut, Couepia, Quercus and many others
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  4. Design for Natural Pest, Disease and Weed Control
    • Understanding natural pest control
    • Bio control
    • Advantages and disadvantages of bio control
    • Natural pest controls with herb extracts
    • Other techniques for natural insect control
    • Understanding insecticidal properties of different plants
    • Natural weed control
    • Weed control with cultivation, mulch biological controls, grazing, etc.
    • Growing grain crops on a small scale
    • Hull less oats
    • Amaranth and Quinoa
    • Corn
    • Flours
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  5. Complimentary Planting -Companion Planting
    • How reliable is companion planting
    • Repellent plants
    • Attractant plants
    • Plants that impact on the soil conditions
    • Planting combinations that may be mutually beneficial
    • Combinations sometimes considered undesirable
    • Plants that can improve soil –alfalfa, borage, caraway and others explained.
    • Green manure crops
    • Decoy plants
    • Nitrogen fixation
    • Legumes in permaculture
    • Cover crops
    • Grain crops
    • Plants for pets –dogs, cats, poultry
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  6. Appropriate Technology in Permaculture Design
    • Energy conservation technology
    • Building biology
    • Environmental impact on buildings
    • Climate
    • Building location
    • Radon
    • Air quality and allergies
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Light
    • EMR and creation of electric fields
    • Solar energy
    • Greenhouses: design and function
    • Passive solar energy collection and active systems
    • Conservation and recycling
    • Kitchen waste management
    • Water saving measures
    • Environmentally friendly gardening
    • Growing Berries
    • Strawberry growing
    • Raspberry cultivation
    • Bramble Berry growing
    • Other berries –gooseberries, mulberry, etc
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  7. Water Gardens
    • Planting in wet places
    • Understanding wet areas
    • Overcoming problems
    • Plants suited to bog gardens
    • Why have water in a permaculture garden
    • Designing for wet places
    • Managing water in sun or shade
    • Water life
    • Construction
    • Waterproofing
    • Managing a healthy pond
    • Plants that can damage ponds
    • Plants suitable for water –submerged, floating and bog plants
    • Growing water chestnut
    • Establishing a water garden
    • Creating a pond with a liner
    • Constructing a small dam or pond
    • Waste water treatment with reed beds
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  8. Knowing Plants –Tree Crops
    • What zone to grow in
    • Orchard species suited to permaculture
    • Understory plants
    • Leguminous companions
    • Actinorhizal companions
    • Orchards
    • Planning for intercrop species
    • Tropical orchards
    • Dry land orchards
    • Fukuoka System
    • Nut trees
    • Almond
    • Cashew
    • Chestnut
    • Filbert
    • American hazelnut
    • Macadamia
    • Peanut
    • Pecan
    • Pistachio
    • Walnut
    • Harvest, storage and processing of nuts
    • Nut toxins
    • Fruit trees
    • Apples
    • Apricots
    • Peaches and nectarines
    • Citrus
    • Feijoa
    • Pomegranate
    • Olive
    • Plum
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  9. Knowing Plants – Vegetables and Herbs
    • Introduction
    • Choosing the right spot
    • Considering the soil
    • Feeding plants
    • Plant when conditions are favourable
    • Cultivation necessities – Mulching, Rotating crops, watering, Pest control
    • Planting to maximize harvest
    • Planting vegetables
    • Disease resistance in vegetables –beans, corn, peas, lettuce, tomatoes.
    • Vegetables to grow in a permaculture system
    • Artichokes
    • Asparagus
    • Beans
    • Beetroot
    • Broccoli
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Capsicum Eggplant
    • Onions
    • Rhubarb
    • Silver beet Sweet potato
    • Tomato
    • Zucchini
    • Herbs
    • Allium –chives, garlic, shallots etc
    • Angelica
    • Artemisia
    • Balm
    • Basil
    • Calendula
    • Cardemom
    • Chamomile
    • Coriander
    • Lavender
    • Mint
    • Parsley
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Thyme
    • Other herbs
    • Set task
    • Assignment
  10. Giving the Garden a Central Focus
    • The mandala garden concept
    • Surfaces
    • Keyhole beds
    • Herb spirals
    • Step by step construction of a mandala garden
    • Centre pond
    • Weed barrier
    • Outside the Mandala
    • Planting out
    • Organic materials – ashes, feathers, hay, leaves, sawdust, prunings, etc.
    • Mulching vegetables and herbs
    • Set task
    • Assignment

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Understand use and establishment of Permaculture gardens.
  • Understand basic principles of permaculture design.
  • Understand the role and function of zones in permaculture systems.
  • Develop knowledge of natural pest, disease, and weed control methods.
  • Understand the principles behind companion planting, and its function in permaculture gardens.
  • Understand the features of, and applications for appropriate technology in permaculture design.
  • Develop knowledge of the use of water gardens in permaculture design.
  • Develop knowledge of a range of plants suitable for permaculture systems.
  • Develop knowledge of a range of plants suitable for permaculture systems.
  • Design a Mandala garden.

What You Will Do

  • Observe and compare different types of natural gardens, and draw sketches
  • Describe how you would build a no dig garden approximately 10 X 3 metres in size.
  • Step by step work through a process of planning changes to a garden to make it into more of a permaculture system.
  • Practice drawing trees, walls, shrubs, rocks and fences, as you would draw them on a landscape plan.
  • Explain how knowledge of landscape drawing and planning relates to permaculture.
  • Collectand list preplanning information relevant to developing home into a permaculture system
  • Write a report explaining the five permaculture zones.
  • Create a table listing 50 different pest, disease and weed problems in one column, and an appropriate natural control method for each one in an adjacent column.
  • Make a list of companion plants.In one column, list the herb or companion plant.
  • Beside it list all of those vegetables, flowers and fruits which are said to benefit by being planted near to it.
  • Draw a plan for a fruit or vegetable garden which incorporates companion planting.
  • Explain briefly each of the companion planting interrelationships you have included in your plan.
  • Design a small and simple water garden for use in a permaculture system.
  • Design a large water garden for use in a permaculture system.
  • Compile a list of tree species which you think would be suitable for permaculture in your local area.
  • The list should include species which can be used for fruit, nut, shelterbelt, timber, fuel, forage, etc.
  • Design and build a herb spiral.
  • Design a vegetable and herb garden based on permaculture principles which would produce enough food to feed you and your family for the entire year.
  • List as many different central features as you can think of which could be used in a Mandalla garden.

Planting Design in Sectors

Sector planning aims to channel external energies such as wind, fire, sun and flood - in a desirable direction.

Good planting design will protect property from bush fire, strong winds, flood or extreme heat if these factors are  potential problems. In a cold climate, the same considerations will ensure that the sun's energy is caught and used where and when it is needed. In a dry climate, limited rainfall must also be caught and used to maximum benefit.

A garden or permaculture system is made up of various components (often called "elements") which can be chosen and arranged in many different combinations, and placed in many possible places. By considering what components you select, how you combine them, and where you place them with respect to factors such as slope, water storage, prevailing winds, etc; you are able to influence the way factors such as sun, fire, wind etc. move through and over the site.

Concepts such as sectors are far more site specific than the conceptual ideas of zones. Sectors are identified by existing factors that affect the property such as winds, sun direction, good/bad views, access, water sources, etc.

Sector planning considers the shielding, deflection or collection of various energies coming onto the property. Factors such as fire, wind or flood are protected and deflected away be the use/construction of embankments, dense trees, ponds, roads or stone walls. Likewise, designers may invite-in or exclude domestic and wild animals by the placement of nesting, foraging sources, barriers or screens. Therefore the designer is able to manage incoming energies.

Once the designer has identified sectors, drawings of zones and sectors can be overlaid on top of one another. An order of placement should start to develop. In other words no plant, structure or activity should be positioned without satisfying both sector and zone criteria. For example:  a pine tree goes in zone 4 (infrequent visits) away from the fire danger sector (it accumulates fuel), towards the cold wind sector (pines are hardy windbreaks), and it should also bear edible nut for foraging.

Once zones and sectors are identified on plans, consideration must be given to slope and elevation. Slope will effect wind movement, drainage, runoff, erosion, temperature and solar collective capacity. Elevation will have a big effect on temperature, mist, frost, rainfall, etc. 

A generalised profile of a sloped landscape represents a gently "S" shape where the top is named the plateau and the base the plains. 
The upper plateau is used for ridge damming and farming. It is however subject to cold frost.

The upper convex slopes are generally left with natural forest for bank stabilisation. Cultivation at this point may result in severe erosion. Slopes greater than 18 degrees are strongly recommended to be maintained as forests.

Lower concave slopes are regarded as the better location for dwellings and diversion of dams and drains, but these are generally also very productive for agricultural purposes. Lower plains are high in agricultural rich soil, but large shallow dams are cheaper water storage facilities. 

The main concern in design on a slope is water - both the beneficial and damaging effects.
As the designer one should be aware of how nature and the elements interact and develop their own patterns. By observing these patterns it should be possible to improve planning and efficiency of the design with consideration of all elements, sectors, zones, aspects and orientations.  All of these factors impact upon what plants you use, and where you plant them.


  • People who have completed our Permaculture I.
  • Anyone who has studied our Permaculture Systems, or a PDC course with another school
  • Anyone who are wants to learn a lot more about plants that can be incorporated into a permaculture landscape.
  • Anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and awareness of useful plants to grow on their own property as a move toward greater self sufficiency.

Need assistance?

Start Now!