Permaculture Designers Toolkit

Below are a list of tools I have found useful during my design process, for either structuring research, undertaking analysis or deciding where elements would be most beneficially placed:

PASTE analysis:
Plants - self-willed & cultivates, fungi too
Animals - self-willed & domesticated, birds, mammals, insects, fish, reptiles & amphibians
Structures - houses, buildings, sheds, paths
Tools - hand tools (available resources), also other items being used e.g. washing lines!
Events - social & natural, courses, gatherings, family visits etc

DAFOR: Dominant, abundant, frequent, occasional, rare. Used to gage relative abundance or like designer, Gary Finch suggested you can use both in a table:

  Dominant Abundant Frequent

Zone analysis (see table in Appendix 1)
PA Yeomans Scale of Permanence Checklist

Sector Analysis:
Mapping outside influences on the system e.g. weather, winds, sun & shadow, topographical sectors such as flooding, views, pollution

Skills Auditing

Resource Auditing

SWOC (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & constraints)

Survey, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Maintenance, Evaluation & Tweaking

Observation, Boundaries, Resources, Evaluation, Design, Implementation, Evaluation, Tweaking

Limiting Factor Analysis:
As Darren Doherty asks, 'where are you bleeding?', biological, social, financial, legal, energetic limiting factors

SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant & timebound

Systems thinking to ensure that any system or element is performing more than one function & that any function is supported by may systems or elements:

  • Identify key functions production
  • Identify systems e.g. kitchen garden, orchard
  • Identify elements e.g. raised beds, apple trees, compost bin

Random assembly

Input & Output Analysis - for example my herbal needs & yields analysis that identified what different medicinal species need & what yields they bring so I can best place them within the herb garden or wider areas ofBrook End

Web of Connections - common tool useful in zone analysis to recognise how often elements are visited


Process Tools

Flow charts
Mind Mapping

Filtering Tools

Permaculture Ethics - is your design a manifestation of the three permaculture ethics?

Permaculture Principles - are they consciously being applied?

Financial analysis - what's practical & affordable?

Brook End Design Questionnaire

What is your overall vision for Brook End?
How can you see yourself living in 5, 10, 20 years time?

What do you love about Brook End?
What do you find challenging at the moment?

What elements of Brook End do you get most enjoyment from?
What would you like a permaculture design of Brook End to achieve?

What do you feel are the main limitations at the moment?
What do you feel could be limiting factors in the future?

If money, time and energy were no object, what would you create with Brook End?
Are there any skills you feel we need for Brook End that none of us have at the moment?

When are you happiest?
What would you like to be doing most with your time?
What is most important to you?

How much does it take for you to become 'peopled out'?
What boundaries are important to you to keep?

Are there any specific plants, trees or shrubs here that you would like to remove or move?
Are there any you would like to introduce?
Anything you would really like to keep?

What are your favourite foods?
What would you like to eat more of? Less of?

What structures would you like to build over the long term at Brook End?
What are your timescales on these?
Are there any technologies you would like to introduce to the site e.g. solar power, water pump etc?

How do you see the site in terms of events?
What would be an ideal balance for you?
Are shorter day workshops more or less stressful than camps?

What role do you see Brook End playing as part of the village?
As part of the wider community?
What would you like it to offer to the community?

What are your priorities at present?
What would you like the design to prioritise for?

How much income would you like to generate from Brook End ideally?
How much per month would cover the mortgage and general outgoings?

Is there anything that you disagree over with myself or mum/Ian?
Is there anything you're worried about with the design process?

Is there anything you dislike about Brook End?
Anything that really gets on your nerves?
What do you feel is your biggest drain of energy here? Main chores?
Are there anything things which might work better if moved within the site?
What jobs do you hate doing? Why?
What jobs do you love doing?

Aside from food production, how else would you like to be using the land e.g. resting, a space for writing, meditation etc?

What are your main site expenditures?
How could our costs of living better be reduced through the land?
What would you like to learn from being at Brook End?

How do you see Brook End as part of your life path? Destiny?
How do you spiritually connect to Brook End? How could this part of your honouring be enhanced or supported?