Ecological design, like nature, is composed of systems and patterns that interact with one another.
This page shows some of the facets of an ecological garden design, which can be implemented alone or in conjunction with others.
Perennials, plants that come back every year, form the backbone of natural ecosystems, and of ecological design. They include herbs, flowers, shrubs, trees, and vines. These plants require less maintenance than annuals, and their yields increase over time. They will be the basic building blocks of our designs.
POLYCULTURE OR GUILD:
In permaculture, plants don’t like to live alone! A guild or polyculture is a collection of plants that are beneficial to one another, and that provide a variety of yields. A common example of this is a single fruit tree, planted with shrubs and herbs that provide nutrients, attract pollinators, provide ground cover, or repel pests. This will often form the basic building block of the ecological design.
FOOD FOREST ORCHARD:
The guild or polyculture on a larger scale - a collection of herbs, shrubs, and trees specially chosen for their functions and their ecological niche, to create a planting that imitates the layers of the forest, while providing a variety of fruits, nuts, berries, herbs, and other useful products.
The primary purpose of a rain garden is to manage rainwater run-off from roofs, roads, and driveways while creating an attractive and functional garden feature. The soil of the rain garden is loose and permeable, allowing the water it collects to percolate into the ground instead of taxing the sewer system.
From the familiar rain barrel to swales and ponds, ecological design often focuses on collecting and saving water in order to more easily handle dry periods. In our climate, which is often very wet, water management also means mitigating flooding and pooling where possible.
Compact or sprawling, tidy or wild, there are many ways and many reasons to grow an herb garden. Herbs are generally used for culinary or medicinal purposes, and many of them are beautiful, aromatic, and attractive to pollinators, as well as resistant to pests and disease. Place an herb garden close to your house, so you can gather chives or mint at a moment’s notice.
POLLINATOR / WILDLIFE MEADOW:
A great way to cut down on mowing and spraying, a wildflower meadow can provide beauty outside, cut flowers for arrangements inside, and plenty of food and habitat for bees, birds, butterflies, and more. From small spaces like sidewalk easements, to larger areas with a footpath cutting through, these low maintenance gardens will delight you with their color and life.
EDIBLE HEDGE ROW:
Sometimes you need a privacy screen! Isn’t it great that your hedgerow can serve double duty by providing berries or fruit as well? There are many productive and attractive thicket forming shrubs to choose from.
Maximizing the use of vertical space is vital for city lots with limited space. Through clever design, you’ll be amazed at how much you can plant on a small footprint. Cover your wall with espalier trees and strawberry boxes! Plant herbs in a spiral! Plant vines on fences or string them up on your porch.
RAISED GARDEN BED:
Depending on your situation or soil conditions, building a raised garden bed and filling it with good quality soil can be the quickest way to start your veggie, herb, or flower garden today. There are many types and styles to choose from, to fit your vision and your budget.
Produce less waste while making your own garden compost from kitchen scraps, grass clippings, fallen leaves, and even paper! Once you get started, you’ll never want to buy commercial fertilizers again, and you’ll start to see your yard waste as a gold mine!
Amazingly nutritious and surprisingly easy to produce at home, all you need for a mushroom patch is a shady spot you can keep moist, some spawn, and a substrate such as straw or logs. There are several delicious culinary varieties available for the home grower, including oysters and shiitake.
Our grandparents all kept a few chickens in the backyard, and it’s time to bring the practice back! Part of the ecosystem of your garden, chickens will eat kitchen scraps that aren’t suitable for the compost bin, help turn your compost, provide manure, control pests, and of course, provide healthy free range eggs! Other candidates for the backyard homestead include ducks, bees, quail, and rabbits.
All elements of an ecological design serve multiple purposes, and many of them overlap with one another.
We’re excited to help you make your space more beautiful and bountiful. Schedule a consultation with us to get started.
Schedule your free one hour ecological garden consultation today!