This page is all about designing. It will cover:

Sector Planning

The site is drawn and lines showing north, south, east and west are added (sectors). Winds, path of the sun (in winter and summer), water movement, wildlife patterns and movement, vehicles and other energies are added to build up a picture of how things flow. By understanding this we can devise strategies to trap the useful energies and build fertility and yields.


This is a way of designing to maximise energy efficiency. Activities are put in different zones, depending on frequency of use, maintenance, visits etc.

Generally, activities and structures are placed as follows:

Zone 0: Centre of activities - the house. This is high maintenance, high use and requires considerable investment of time and energy.
Zone 1: Annual plants, herbs, compost, bike store and other high use activities.
Zone 2: Chickens, other animals, orchard, greenhouse.
Zone 3: Water storage, main crops, field shelters.
Zone 4: Forestry, pasture, dams, forage.
Zone 5: Wild zone, where nature is in charge and where we go to learn and harvest only that which is abundant.

Sectional elevation

Design by the removal of limiting factors

The McHarg Exclusion Method

Ian McHarg was a Scotsman who has spent most of his working life in North America as a professor of landscape design. He was once asked by a group of local residents to support them in objecting to the route of a proposed road. In working towards a proposal for an alternative route, he came up with his exclusion method. The basis of his method is to ask not where something should go, but where shouldn't it go. A base map is drawn and a series of transparent overlays are prepared, each one mapping areas which are excluded for a specific reason. In his original work on the road proposal the subjects for overlays included: too near to residential areas, forest, areas of wildlife value, marsh, and areas incurring extra expense, e.g. a bridge. When all the overlays are placed over the base map at once any area which remains blank is ideal, and areas which have the least constraints can be considered if the blank area is not sufficient. The method can be used for placing new structures or plantings in the landscape, including: settlements, individual houses, farm buildings, new woodland and orchards. His book is Design With Nature, McHarg, Ian L. 1971. Doubleday/Natural History Press, Garden City, New York.

Ecological footprint analysis. This can be used as a design tool, in particular to check the ecological impact of different designs and existing situations. Lots of really useful work done in this area already, so a wealth of data and calculators available that can help guide decisions.

Useful books include: Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. Mathis Wackernagel and William E. Rees, 1996. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, BC. and Sharing Nature's Interest: Ecological Footprints as an Indicator for Sustainability. Nicky Chambers, Craig Simmons and Mathis Wackernagel, 2000. Earthscan, London