Permaculture II

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

Learn More About Using Plants in a Permaculture Landscape

Understand how to use of plants in design and development of permanent, self-sustaining farms or gardens which produce food and other crops. 

  • Improve your permaculture design and planning skills
  • Learn about water gardens in relation to permaculture
  • Study appropriate technology in permaculture
  • Study and design a Mandala garden
This course deals with preparing plans for different types of permaculture systems. It's duration is approximately 100 hours. If you satisfactorily complete all of the following courses - Permaculture I, II, III and IV. You will be awarded a Permaculture Design Certificate, recognised by the Permaculture Institute.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Permaculture Gardens : Different Garden Systems
    • Spiral gardens, no dig gardens
    • Establishing plants (mulches, irrigation, tree guards)
    • Techniques for planting sloping and arid sites
  2. Design -planning techniques and skills
    • The design process, pre planning information
    • Drawing a design
    • Selecting plants,
  3. Garden Zones
    • Windbreaks, hedges, screens
    • Five Permaculture zones
  4. Design for Natural Pest, Disease and Weed Control
    • Biocontrol
    • Natural pest controls
  5. Companion Planting
    • Repellant plants, attractant plants
    • Plants that affect the soil, beneficial plant combinations, poor combinations
    • Nitrogen and legumes in Permaculture, cover crops, grain crops
  6. Appropriate Technology in Permaculture Design
    • Using energy conserving technology
    • Healthy buildings
  7. WaterGardens
    • Wet and boggy garden areas, drainage
    • Wet tolerant plants
    • Small and large water gardens
  8. Fruit, Nuts and Berries
    • Suitable orchard plants for Permaculture
    • Intercrop species
    • Fukuoka system
  9. Vegetables and Herbs
    • Easy care vegetable gardens
    • Planting, garden care
    • Herb spirals
    • Disease resistance
    • Types of vegetables
  10. Mandala Garden
    • Design and cost of a Mandala garden
    • Organic materials, mulches
    • Keyhole garden beds.


  • 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.
  • Collect and 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 useful tree species which you think would be suitable for permaculture in your local area.
  • 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.


In theory, all permaculture systems are “self-sustaining” and if designed well, will involve minimum inputs of manpower and avoid external inputs as much as possible i.e. things that are brought in from outside of the system e.g. manure, composts fertilisers etc.. In theory, there should be little or no weeding, pruning, watering, digging or mowing to be done. In practice though, this will still be a garden inhabited by people, where things are going to be harvested - and extraordinary things will happen, which may disturb the equilibrium you have tried to create. Storms still occur, weeds still find their way onto the property, and some plants will still be affected by plagues of pests and outbreaks of disease.

You will still need to do work on the property from time to time. That work can be minimised at the planning stage, by thinking about what you are and are not prepared to do and capable of doing


You should choose your plants carefully.  Remember, every plant will have its good points and its bad points – avoid those that are likely to become environmental weeds as these will increase your work load and potentially can also destroy nearby natural environments. You have to decide for yourself which characteristics of a plant are most important to you! Consider all of the following points. Some overlap on each other; but are none the less worth considering.  Your choice of plants needs to take all of these things into account; but for a permaculture system - you will for the most part give the higher priority to considerations that have the greatest practical impact.

What can you harvest from the plant? This might be something to eat, something you can use as a fuel (wood, oil), as compost, to make a medicine, or maybe it might give a raw material for a craft or to build something. Some plants are more productive than others; giving a wider variety of products, or a greater quantity of product. Some will produce for only a period of months or a few years before they die and need replacing. Others may produce for decades, even hundreds of years. You need to choose not only the species, but also the variety, and number of plants, appropriately.

This refers to how the plant impacts on other living things in the environment. It may create shade and protection from weather extremes, resulting in a microclimate that allows certain plants or animals to thrive. It’s roots may contribute to soil stability, or affect the soil in other ways; hence impacting on the environment in a way that is detrimental to some and beneficial to other living things. It may provide shelter and other benefits to wildlife (birds, small mammals, reptiles).

This refers to what the plant as a whole may be used for (which is different to what you might use a harvested part of the plant for) e.g. a hedgerow can shelter an area from wind; large trees can filter pollutants in the air; ground covers can bind the soil and prevent erosion.

Aesthetic considerations may often be of minor concern in a permaculture system; however, aesthetics do impact (even if only sub-consciously) on the state of the human mind. Warm colours (e.g. red, yellow) can excite or activate the mind; while cool colours (e.g. blue, green) can have a calming effect. There can be very practical implications to aesthetic criteria, which may be subtle, but none the less real.  Consider; how a plant looks? Does it create the type of effect you want?

Plant Growth Characteristics
How will the plant affect the environment around it? Trees can grow big, shading the area and eventually causing sun loving plants around them to deteriorate. Do you want shade or not? Do you want the garden cooler or warmer? Do you want it more or less moist? Do you want the wind redirected or stopped? The plants you select can affect all of these things, and more.

Will the plant withstand frost, drought, excessive heat, flood, high winds, poor soil conditions, pest or disease attack, etc?

Suitability to Location
Is the plant ideally suited to the soil and climate it is being planted in, or is it just able to tolerate these conditions?

Fragrance in leaves and foliage is an advantage in many situations. For people with allergy or sinus problems, this can sometimes, be a big disadvantage. Not all fragrant plants cause problems though.  Lemon scented plants can be used well for repelling mosquitoes and other pests.


Is the plant potentially dangerous? Plants that are likely to have falling branches, spiky or thorny foliage, poisonous plant parts, etc. should be avoided unless they are grown in a position where they are unlikely to be a problem. However, in a permaculture garden it should be noted that there are many plants that may be poisonous if eaten raw but if cooked correctly are safe to consume. These plants should not be totally ignored for this reason. Likewise there are many spiny plants that bear edible fruit. Plants that are known to burn easily should be avoided in fire prone areas.
Pollen of some species, such as the grasses and Acacias can also create allergy problems.

Life Span
How long is the plant likely to live? Most vegetables and many plants such as wattles are relatively short lived (but this can be used to provide a garden which evolves   as some plants reach full size, others die out to make room).

ADD TO OR BUILD ON A Permaculture Design Certificate

This course goes well beyond the level of "plant" studies that would be covered in any normal PDC.
Plants are however, a very important component of any permaculture design; and you can never know too much about plants.
The more "useful" plants that you are familiar with; the more you have to choose from when you are planning a permaculture garden.
This course is quite intensive; but to learn, you do need to become familiar with a lot of different plants; all within the context of permaculture.
TO ACHIEVE THE PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate)











ACS Distance Education is a member of the Permaculture Association (UK) and The Alternative Technology Association (Australia) 

  • Do you want to start studying towards the PDC or do you want to gain more knowledge of permaculture design?
  • Then this is the course for you!
  • Follow your dream and find out more about permaculture design and principles!

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