Sometimes even experienced permaculture designers seem to fall into ruts when it comes to their recommendations and design choices. But it is always important to make sure that we really do respect both the site and the client – and design specifically for each individual project.
Recently, I have been working on several different designs that are very, very different. But I have also been working for a project through a referral in the same town as a previous project. This got me thinking.
I want to stress that we should always make sure we come to each job with a fresh eye – considering it not in the context of other projects we have undertaken – but problem solving anew for each specific site.
Of course, we can bring our experience to bear on a new project. But we should always make sure we do not become complacent when seeking the perfect solutions. Even two sites in the same town can be very different. Even two sides of the same property might require very different approaches.
I do not always share all the information which goes into creating my designs when I share my case studies. But I do the legwork before I even begin to synthesise my ideas. I think, of course, about sectors and soil, broader and local patterns, and all the resources, elements and systems involved when creating a design. The individual site and the individual client of course, are my main considerations.
When I see the work of other designers, I am sometimes surprised by their pro-forma use of certain elements. Swales and other earthworks are most commonly misunderstood. But I think sometimes designers even have their own favourite plants, which they shoehorn in where they are not necessarily the best ones to use.
Designing for very different sites in different parts of the world can be challenging. But when we go back to basics, follow permaculture principles, and truly engage all our critical faculties, we can approach each project the right way, and find our way to regeneration and growth. It is hard work. But work that is well worth it for people and planet.