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Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens


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Permaculture Techniques - Terraforming


Moving earth to create the physical foundations of all the systems to be employed in the permaculture design. These include earth-works for water collection and retention on site, foundation construction for roads and pathways, dwellings and other buildings, drainage, terracing for gardens, control and minimisation of off-site pollution (noise, water and air pollution), and fire protection banks. Terra forming is one of the first techniques to be used, after planning and before placement of elements in the systems.


  • Maximises utilisation of on-site water (ground water, rainfall, run-off collection); including retention of water in the ground using structures such as swales.
  • Water storage ponds and dams established early to supply establishing systems.
  • Cheaper, and less destructive, to do in the early stages of development.
  • Earth (dirt) is an on-site (and hence cheap) resource, and used creatively can eliminate many material costs.
  • Earth has excellent insulating properties - sound, temperature.
  • Terracing maximises surface available on sloping sites for gardens, especially south facing slopes, for solar access.
  • Controls erosion, minimises on-site erosion.
  • May improve accessibility to different areas of site.
  • Protection, eg. fire breaks, mounds to protect from strong prevailing winds, flood water control.


  1. Plan site according to observation of climatic conditions, soil type and structure with respect to earth-works. Determine contours and natural drainage patterns.
  2. Employ suitable techniques for terra forming according to the work being done, available finances or people resources (spades, bobcats, bulldozers!).
  3. Remove topsoil and store to replace on the actual earthwork site, or for use elsewhere.
  4. Rehabilitate site immediately with mulch and planned plantings to remove risk of soil erosion.




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permaculture ethics
care for earth,
care for people,
return surplus,
reduce consumption

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Copyright © Beverley Paine 2002-14. Article from this website may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this entire notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author's name). Permission must be obtained from the author in order to reprint this article in a published work or to offer it for sale in any form. Please visit Bungala Ridge Permaculture Gardens for more original content by Beverley Paine.