Permaculture Zones: Where to Plant your Garden to be the Most Successful

September 30, 2014

Permaculture Zones: Where to plant your garden to be the most successful

by Josh Levine on September 30, 2014 in Garden Plans, Garden Startup, Gardening


The Basics of Permaculture

Zones and Their Importance

Permaculture Zones are essentially the areas

of your yard that you will strategically pay

attention to in different ways.

The most common way to describe your home and its

Permaculture Zones is to break it up into 6 sections. Not all of

us have acres and acres of land, but the first few zones can be

for anyone with a yard. Here is an image of what the

Permaculture Zone breakdown looks like, with your home being

in the middle (Zone 0)


What this is showing is that the garden that you need to spend

the most time observing/harvesting should be closest to the

house. If you are constantly reminded as you walk in your front

door that your lettuce greens are ready for harvest, a couple

radishes can be used for dinner, and there are some

unexpected weeds taking over, then those crops should be

located in Zone 1, or just outside one of your doors. When you

get to Zone 2, you will notice that they are the plants that you

may need to pay a bit less attention to, but still fairly close to the

home and easily accessible. Fruit trees, edible bushes,chickens,

and larger compost piles should start here. As you get to the

Third Zone in the system, that is where you will plant your

orchard requiring less maintenance, mulched areas that most

likely would need infrequent weeding and don’t take as much

effort as the two interior. For many in the Silicon Valley, those

are the three zones that are most important. The 4th and 5th

zones refer to wild and unmanaged space for those that back

up to nature or have acres of property at their disposal.

For a basic breakdown of each zone in detail, I’ll

borrow this from Permawiki (remember this is a

general chart, not specific to YOU!):

1. ZONE 0 — The house, or home centre. Here permaculture

principles would be applied in terms of aiming to

reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural

resources such as sunlight, and generally creating a

harmonious, sustainable environment in which to live, work

and relax.

2. ZONE 1 — Is the zone nearest to the house, the location

for those elements in the system that require frequent

attention, or that need to be visited often, e.g., salad

crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or

raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation

area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste, etc.

3. ZONE 2 — This area is used for siting perennial plants that

require less frequent maintenance, such as occasional

weed control (preferably through natural methods such as

spot-mulching) or pruning, including currant bushes and

orchards. This would also be a good place for beehives,

larger scale compost bins, etc.

4. ZONE 3 — Is the area where maincrops are grown, both

for domestic use and for trade purposes. After

establishment, care and maintenance required is fairly

minimal provided mulches, etc. are used, e.g., watering or

weed control once a week or so.

5. ZONE 4 — Is semi-wild. This zone is mainly used for

forage and collecting wild food as well as timber

production. An example might be coppice managed


6. ZONE 5 — The wilderness. There is no human intervention

in zone 5 apart from the observation of natural eco-
systems and cycles. Here is where we learn the most

important lessons of the first permaculture principle of

working with nature, not against.

Custom Permaculture Zoning

Very rarely are your zones completely circular. As you can see

by this permaculture zoning, it shows where this resident

spends the most time and how its sectioned out.


I believe the most important idea to grasp from this entire

practice is that the closer your vegetable garden is to your

house, the more you will use it, admire it, and take care of it.

When you don’t ever see something, you are much less likely to

take the necessary care for it to be entirely productive.

For more info on Permaculture Zoning:

To speak with someone about the specific Permaculture Zones

of your home, please call 408-508-4769 or sign up for a consultation