Design options

  1. Full detailed Design including climate appropriate plant lists and sources.
  2. Overview Design with broad suggestions for plant types and positions for structures and plantings.
  3. Pre Purchase Site Evaluation
  4. Specialist Design eg Irrigation System, Greywater System, Orchard Layout

Designs are charged at a per hour rate consistent with the level of expertise required. Email or ring for details.

options in more detail

Full detailed Design

This is the most usual form of design requested by clients. It involves preliminary discussions to ascertain requirements, at least one site visit for evaluation and measurement and usually mapping. A drone is used to obtain accurate and detailed information that can be utilised in the design.

A draft design is drawn up and after discussion a revised design is presented, including an implementation timeline and climate appropriate plant lists and sources. The design may include house siting for best energy efficiency, placement of other infrastructure like fencing, positioning of dams and drainage, use of windbreaks, as well as the home garden and orchard design.

Overview Design

The more experienced home gardener or broadscale farmer may be in need of only broad suggestions for plant types and positions for structures and plantings. This is usually in the form of an onsite evaluation with verbal design suggestions noted by the client or sketched by the designer. A follow-up summary can be provided if required.

Pre Purchase Site Evaluation

This design option is offered because of the number of friends and clients who have made their design considerably and unnecessarily limited by the choice of site. A pre purchase evaluation can make a substantial difference to the cost and effort required to have a sustainable and productive lifestyle. The options include:

  • onsite soil analysis
  • full laboratory soil analysis (nutrients and micro-nutrients and/or pesticide residues)
  • site limitations and beneficial features
  • water audit - including overall site flow, possible storage
  • optimal building sites
  • swale construction suitability
  • suitable garden and orchard sites
  • fencing appraisal for proposed uses / stock

Specialist Design

If you just need assistance to plan and/or install a smaller part of your own design, such as an Irrigation System, or a Greywater System, or Orchard/ Garden Layout this can be accommodated. This is usually achieved by a site visit followed by research into cost and availability of suitable options and after client consideration, a written and/or diagrammatic plan is drawn up.


The Stages of Design

  1. The Clients and their Wish List
  2. The Expected Role of the Designer
  3. The Budget for the Design and Installation
  4. The Person-power for Installation and Maintenance
  5. Evaluating the Property
  6. Revising the Draft Design
  7. The Completed Design
  8. Signing Off on the Design

Most of the design options require these stages, albeit in some cases particular stages may be very brief.

The stages in more detail

The Clients and their Wish List

For an effective working relationship we will need to get acquainted. I need to get an idea of where you are coming from and where you are headed in the context of the design. While you need to know how I may be able to help you achieve your objectives. A wish list is a useful tool as it encourages you to think about what your design needs are and provides me with some of the design parameters.

The Expected Role of the Designer

This just clarifies what your expectations are of me as a designer. What is the anticipated time frame for drafting the design? What would be the expected cost? Can installation be organised? Is supply of plants required? Costs for these?

The Budget for the Design and Installation

It is necessary for you to provide at least an approximate figure of the amount of money you are willing and able to budget for the project. And keep in mind that the available funds determine only the speed at which the design can be implemented, so it is well worth having an idea of the budget to plan a realistic timeline.

The Person-power for Installation and maintenance

Who will provide the necessary muscle and time to implement the design? And over what period of time? How much time per week are you prepared to allocate to keeping the garden? And the chooks? And the bees? And the orchard? Consideration of these questions will assist with a design that is practical to install and maintain.

Evaluating the Property

This involves walking the boundaries and investigating the features of the landscape first hand. Maps are very useful tools and can save a lot of design time if they are provided. Topographic maps can be photocopied and magnified to provide a useful base map for design. Google Maps can provide boundary maps, satellite images and topographical maps. The existing vegetation, including indicator species and pests are noted, and the flow of water across the landscape observed. Much of this is recorded using a camera to prompt post visit recollection of details.

A drone flight to obtain good photographic site images can also be provided. These can be used to create scale diagrams, and can be used to record before and after progress.

A soil analysis is highly recommended as the usual on-site soil improvement methods of composting and mulching will not provide the micro-nutrients so often missing in Australia's geologically old soils. If these trace elements are missing in the soil then they will be missing in a diet based on that soil and good health is unlikely. Suitable soil samples are dug, mixed as appropriate, and sent for laboratory analysis. The returned analysis is interpreted to calculate the soil amelioration required.

Revising the Draft Design

After all the previous stages are completed then a draft design is produced. This is usually in the form of a base map with overlays showing different design features such as plantings, irrigation, infrastructure, etc. Unless distance is an issue I would present this personally and after discussion and reflection, a list of modifications is drawn up. Occasionally the revisions are quite substantial when a client, inspired by the design, comes up with quite a different wish list. That's OK. It's what the draft is for. Minor revision is covered by the original estimate but a substantial redraft would incur an additional cost.

The Completed Design

The revised design is then presented for client approval with the now checked list of modifications and we all celebrate over a glass of red.

Signing Off on the Design

Oh just one formality. It is best for all if we acknowledge the design stage is completed to everyone's satisfaction. Then back to the red!

Portfolio of Designs

This abbreviated list is to show the range of design services offered.

Past Clients

Lowenbrae (Large Organic Garden including raised beds framed with hardwood,
irrigation system design, rabbit-proof fencing, soil testing and improvement,
plant recommendation, sourcing and planting out) (Burradoo)

Eat Fit Farm (Market Garden including land clearing, terracing and fencing;
extensive soil improvement; irrigation system; staff training; plant sourcing;
glasshouse, chookhouse and shadehouse design and construction) (Berrima)

Springett House (Interactive Productive Garden for Disabled Folk including
Wheel-chair accessible berrarium, food forest and raised garden beds;
chook house and run; pergola with planting tables designed for easy access;
shadehouse with watering system; design and provision of accessible storage bins;
removal of weeds and revegetation of creek with native riparian species) (Bowral)

Melissa and Nathan (Large Steel-framed Anti-Aviary) (Penrose)
Alison and Scott (Small Steel-framed Anti-Aviary) (Hilltop)
Jacqui (Raised Wicking Garden Beds) (Penrose)
Sarit and Ronnie (Site Management Advice and Dam Siting) (Robertson)
Paddys River Farm (Site Analysis and Soil Testing) (Paddys River)
Robyn (Installation of small Hydraulic Ram Pump) (Exeter)
Penrose Public School (Design and Installation of School Garden) (Penrose)
David (Farm and Vineyard Post-Purchase Evaluation) (Bungonia)
Steve and Ildiko (Forest Management Plan) (Braidwood)
John and Lee (Garden Design) (Penrose)
Andrew (Garden Design) (Burradoo)
Anna and Tom (Garden and Orchard Design) (High Range)
Michael (Urban Garden Design) (Canberra)
Mary (Grey Water Reedbed System Design) (High Range)
Steve and Ildiko (Garden Design) (Hilltop)

Class Designs

As head tutor of the Permaculture Design Certificate classes run by Permaculture Southern Highlands (from 1998 to 2015) I have supervised over a hundred student designs, guiding them away from unworkable ideas and assisting them with additional ideas and fine tuning.