Three Basic Permaculture Principals And Practices For Urban Yards

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One major fallacy about permaculture is that in order to practice it properly, you need acreage. It is perfectly possible to apply permaculture principals and practices to your urban lot and produce an abundance of food. No matter how much space you have, basic permaculture practices are simple to incorporate in your landscape.

Soil Building

Soil building is the cornerstone of permaculture, because without healthy soil, nothing else you do matters. It can take years to build really good, rich soil using permaculture methods such as mulching, composting and chop-and-drop. Some of these methods may have to be adjusted somewhat depending on local regulations or space restrictions. For example, some cities or neighborhoods may not allow compost bins, but you can use trench or direct composting, burying your kitchen scraps right in your garden soil. To use all those lovely fall leaves when aesthetic restrictions apply, simply chop them up with the lawn mower and layer them under bark mulch or pine straw, where they will decompose into beautiful topsoil over the winter.

Vertical Gardening

Permaculture is about getting the best yields by utilizing every square inch of plantable space. Of course, with smaller urban spaces, vertical gardening is a must to get the yields you desire. Again, aesthetics may play a role, so consider growing such beautiful blooming crops as hyacinth or scarlet runner beans. Sweet potato leaves are edible, attractive on a trellis and even bloom while putting out a bumper crop of tubers underground. Grapes can be trained to cover a pergola, giving you a nice shaded space to gather with friends. PVC pipe tower gardens are simple to build, or can be purchased, and produce many times the normal yield in a small space. Gutters planted with lettuce and other greens turn fences and walls into garden spots and hanging baskets can be used for any number of herbs, mints and edible flowers such as nasturtiums.


Regular compost is wonderful for soil amendment, but worm castings, or vermicompost, is the gold standard for nutrient-dense organic fertilizer. An outdoor worm farm is easy and inexpensive to set up in a shady spot with two large plastic storage containers and the proper bedding and food for your worm friends. If outside vermicomposting is not possible, there are indoor stacked bin systems available that can be kept in any space in your house. If used correctly, they produce no smell and attract no pests. Vermicompost can be worked into your garden soil or used to make compost tea for container plants.

These are only three of the many permaculture principles and methods that can be used in an urban lot. Your landscape professional will be able to help you choose methods that comply with ordinances and still allow you to produce abundant yields on a city lot. For more information, contact a business such as Foothills Landscaping.