Permaculture Systems

Course CodeBHT201
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to Become a Permaculture Designer - Gain a PDC (Permaculture Design Certificate)

  • Study this course to broaden your understanding of permaculture applications.
  • This fully immersive course is extremely detailed covering a vast amount of ground including what the different growing methods are which underlie permaculture, how it is informed from observation of the science of natural systems, and how this information is used to establish zonal planning.
  • Students get to design and plan their own permaculture system to complete the course. 

Learn from experts with decades of experience in permaculture, sustainable growing, horticulture & agriculture

Lesson Structure

There are 1 lessons in this course:

  1. Permaculture Principles
    • Natural Systems
    • Zone and Sector Planning
    • Permaculture Techniques
    • Animals in Permaculture
    • Plants in Permaculture
    • Appropriate Technologies
    • Preparing a Plan


  • Explain the principles of permaculture.
    • Explain the concepts of natural systems.
    • Explain permaculture techniques involving zones and sector planning.
    • Explain a range of permaculture techniques: (forest plantings, mandala gardens, ponds etc).
    • Explain the significance of different animals in a permaculture system.
    • Select plants appropriate for inclusion in a permaculture system, to supply a useful and sustained harvest; explain their husbandry.
    • Select appropriate technologies for use in permaculture systems.
    • Draw permaculture designs (plans) to scale.

What You Will Do

  • Differentiate between Permaculture and other sustainable systems.
    • Explain the procedures followed in practising different techniques which are sympathetic to Permaculture, including: No-dig gardening, Companion Planting, Biological control, and Sustainable harvesting.
    • Explain the interactions that occur between living and non-living components in five different natural environments, including: Forest Systems, Aquatic Environments, Soil Environments, and Arid Environments.
    • Evaluate different Permaculture designs against the nine Permaculture principles.
    • Distinguish between different garden zones in a Permaculture system.
    • Explain sector planning in a specific garden design.
    • Design a mandala garden for a specific site.
    • Determine the appropriate use of swales on a sloping site.
    • Investigate distinctly different Permaculture systems.
    • Explain three different cultural techniques used to minimise the maintenance requirement, in Permaculture systems you study.
    • Determine different animal breeds, which can provide a useful and sustained harvest from a permaculture system in your locality.
    • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from different types of animals in a Permaculture system.
    • Explain the factors which can affect the success of different types of animals, in a Permaculture system, including: Poultry, Aquatic animals, Domestic farm animals, Insects, Earthworms.
    • Describe the husbandry of one specified type of animal, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
    • Determine different species of plants which can provide a useful, sustained harvest from a Permaculture system.
    • Describe the harvest, treatment and use of various products derived from twenty different plant genera in a Permaculture system.
    • Compile a resource file of fifty information sources for different plants which can be incorporated into Permaculture systems.
    • Explain the factors which can affect the survival of different types of plants, including those used for: Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, Fibres, Building materials, and Fuel.
    • Explain the husbandry of one specified type of plant, in a Permaculture system visited by you.
    • Explain the relevance of appropriate technology to Permaculture design.
    • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for kitchen scraps in a Permaculture system.
    • Compare three different waste disposal techniques which may be used for effluent in a Permaculture system.
    • Evaluate the suitability of different building techniques in a Permaculture system.
    • Explain the application of two different systems of alternative energy in a Permaculture system.
    • Compare differences in the impact on a Permaculture system, of three alternative technologies designed for the same purpose (e.g. three alternative sources of electricity).
    • Evaluate the use of technology in a house (you choose the house).
    • Determine more "appropriate" technologies to replace currently used technologies, in a house you evaluate.
    • Illustrate on a plan, twenty different components of a design, including: Plants, Buildings, and Landscape features.
    • Transpose a simple Permaculture plan to a different scale.
    • Represent an existing site, drawn to scale, on a plan.
    • Describe the stages involved in the process of producing a Permaculture design.
    • Prepare a concept plan for a Permaculture system surveyed by you, which is between five hundred and one thousand square metres in area.
    • Prepare a detailed design for a Permaculture system of between five hundred and one thousand square metres in size, including: Scale drawings, Materials specifications, Lists of plant and animal varieties.

Where can you do Permaculture?

  • Farms
  • Parks
  • Home Gardens
  • Derelict Building Sites

A Permaculture system can be developed on virtually any type of site, though the plants selected and used will be restricted by the site's suitability to the needs of the varieties used. Establishing a permaculture system requires a reasonable amount of pre-planning and designing. Factors such as climate, landform, soils, existing vegetation and water availability need to be considered. Observing patterns in the natural environment can give clues to matters which may become a problem later, or which may be beneficial.

Water Needs

Water is essential for any permaculture system. The quantity required may vary greatly depending on the way a system is designed, and the demands which that design place upon water. Usually water comes into a system from a number of different sources. These almost always include rain, and may include other things such as collection facilities (eg. tanks, dams etc) or pumping from natural supplies (eg. water courses or lakes). Supplies can also be derived from purifying salt water (from the ocean), recycling, extraction from humidity in the air, etc.

Water Storage And Conservation

In most dryland areas of the world groundwater and aquifers are overused. Most of this water goes to produce animal exports products (grains and legumes). Diversion drains come in use here in leading thin sheets of runoff water to storages. Native or adapted trees are the best use of such sites, but at times of good rains, grains, melons, or vegetable crops can be grown on an opportunistic basis.

When concentrating on overland water flow we must allow a safe overflow for periods of excessive rains or we risk creating gullies. A grass or fenced downhill spillway will resist erosion.

Reusing wastewater is essential for garden crops (i.e. via pipes along a plastic–lined shallow trench).

Trickle irrigation is in wide use around the world and is very efficient. Also watering at the right times of the days is advantageous to conserving water (i.e. in the evening or at dawn).

Dryland Gardens

The desert garden is likely to suffer from light saturation (reducing photosynthesis and leaf bulk) and excess evaporation (causing wilt and slow growth). One must also contend with problems such as high pH, heat and light stress, risk of salting soils, dry winds, and poor water supply.

Mulch and compost are essential to create humus, a soil environment where trace elements can become available. A light scatter of sulphur will reduce pH.

Use of major and minor wind breaks should be constructed around the garden to create wind and sun protection (for windbreaks use trellis structures, hedges, leguminous trees or wooden fences). You may also construct a moveable shade house for young plants.

Dryland Orchards

The key to dryland areas is water supply. If there is adequate water supply any dryland area will support fruit and nut trees in an orchard. Trees include: date palm, jujube, cork oak, pistachio, white cedar, chestnut, honey locust, carob, mesquite, grape, fig, and mulberry. Other useful species are almonds, pomegranates, olives, and cactus.

Plants are generally not crowded in drylands (unlike the tropics) due to the lack of water. Orchards usually mimic natural drylands where plants are spaced so they do not compete for water and nutrients. Stones can be used as mulch because they:

  • Protect and shade roots from intense heat
  • Release stored heat to the soil at night
  • Prevent small animals damaging roots
  • Prevent winds lifting the roots
  • Cause water to condense of their surfaces on cool nights
  • Create shelter for worms and small soil organisms.

Planting trees on the edges of swales is the most successful dryland strategy. House-roof and stormwater drains lead into swales, which filter into the water table.

Why Choose This Course

  • Unique course materials (developed by our staff) and more current than some colleges (many reviewed annually); as a result, ACS graduates can be more up to date.
  • We work hard to help you understand and remember it, develop an ability to apply it in the real world, and build networks with others who work in this field (It’s more than just serving up a collection of information – if all you want is information, buy a book, but if you want an education, that takes learning to a whole new level).
  • Start whenever you want, study at your own pace, study anywhere.
  • Don’t waste time and money travelling to classes.
  • We provide more choices – courses are written to allow you more options to focus on parts of the subject that are of more interest to you; a huge range of elective subjects are offered that don’t exist elsewhere.
  • Tutors are accessible (more than elsewhere) – academics work in both the UK and Australia, 5 days a week, 16 hours a day. Answering emails and phone calls from students are top priority.
  • We treat students as individuals – don’t get lost in a crowd. Our tutors communicate with you one to one.
  • Extra help at no extra cost if needed. When you find something you cannot do, we help you through it or will provide another option.
  • Support after you finish a course – We can advise about getting work, starting  business, writing a CV, etc. We can promote students and their businesses through our extensive profile on the internet. Graduates who ask will be helped.
  • Support from a team of a dozen professional horticulturists, living in different parts of the UK, and in both temperate and tropical climate zones of Australia.

Where To From Here?

This course is likely to be of value to people who have a keen interest in permaculture. It will also appeal to anyone with a general interest in natural growing systems. People who take this course are most likely those working in or aspiring to work in:

  • Permaculture design
  • Natural garden design
  • Garden design
  • Horticulture
  • Ecology
  • Nature & wildlife

The course will also be of value to people wishing to start a permaculture design business.


Contact us if you have any questions at all about the course.

Or call (outside UK) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or (UK) 01384 442752