The permaculture design process has proved a useful way of thinking about land uses at Roogulli. We have been working with this 10 hectare (25 acre) small farm near Canberra for 14 years. Naturally we have drawn many plans as we have explored and refined design ideas during that time.

Even though many parts of the design for Roogulli have already been realised, the discipline of working through a design for the whole property as part of a Permaculture Design Certificate course has identified forgotten corners and opportunities to streamline the layout. Suddenly that overgrown corner down near the water tank and reed bed could be a place to store salvaged materials that have not yet found a new purpose. The mound of topsoil in the middle of the driveway could be used to grow fruit trees, or should it be part of the native grassland story that defines the entry to the house garden? The land use plan looks simple but the thinking behind it is crucial to achieving a logical, efficient and environmentally friendly landscape.

The design processes for landscape architecture and permaculture design appear to have much in common. Both ideally have an environmental focus and begin with a detailed analysis of the site. Landscape architecture looks at creation of places, how people use them and the interface of landscape with buildings, culture and art. Permaculture focuses on food production, constructing complex growing systems, sometimes at the expense of aesthetics.

The design by Chris for the Roogulli food forest attempts to combine the strengths of landscape architecture and permaculture. The edges of the food forest help to define the entry space of the driveway and separate this from the food forest space. In classic permaculture style, the edge plantings also deliver habitat for small birds and direct cold air flowing down the hill away from the food forest.

A well defined path layout helps to structure the food forest space, provides convenient access, creates edges, accommodates existing trees and allows for future swales to divert water from the driveway.

The layered planting approach allows for production of food on trees, shrubs and groundcovers. The food forest should also quickly begin to grow its own mulch. There has been much discussion of what plant species to use for this since we are keen to use indigenous species where possible for fixing nitrogen and improving soil fertility.