Permaculture Design Process – 9. Maintenance

by Aranya


The ideal that we always aim towards in permaculture is the concept of ‘harvesting as maintenance’. In reality, if we utilise low-maintenance systems to create a design that
requires less energy over time to maintain, while providing increasing yields, we’ve
done pretty well.

Creating a maintenance plan

As a design implementation progresses, the time & resources used in ongoing  maintenance has to be subtracted from that available for further development. By
implementing the lowest maintenance systems first & the highest last, you allow the
design to be completed in the shortest time. However, as we have seen in the previous section, sometimes our implementation is limited by the availability of labour or
resources & cannot always follow this ideal. Here are some other things to consider;

  1. Life never stops
    Plants & trees don’t stay the same size & need some form of ongoing attention, even if only an annual prune & harvesting. At least the times for these tasks are fairlypredictable & can be entered into a diary.
  2. Identify the ongoing availability of labour & resources
    This will help you plan bigger maintenance tasks to coincide with these peaks. Being able to estimate the amount of time these jobs will take is also a useful skill to develop.
  3. A stitch in time
    The wear & tear of any non-living thing is inevitable, but timely maintenance can save a heap of extra work later. Include room in your plan for a regular check up of all systems & encouragement to fix any small issues promptly.
  4. Maintaining correct functioning
    You may need to include mini maintenance plans to ensure the correct functioning of certain systems. Anything unusual, like a compost toilet, might need clear instructions posted up to ensure that it continues to function as it was intended to.
  5. The importance of a clear maintenance plan, available to every user
    A system is only as good as the operator’s understanding. In your absence, a clear maintenance plan is the next best thing. Make sure before you leave, that the client understands what it all means & that everyone else interacting with the design has access to any information that is relevant to them.

Go to part 10 – Design presentation