Skip to Content

How Much Does a Permaculture Design Cost? (3 Real Examples)

Before I became a certified permaculture designer, I often wondered how much hiring a permaculture designer would cost. Today, I found many others have the same questions, so I put together this guide. Here’s what I found.

A permaculture design can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or more, depending on factors like site size, complexity, and the designer’s experience. Hiring an expert is often the best approach, but a DIY design can save money. Consider your budget, goals, and time to determine the best approach for your garden.

The truth is there’s a large range out there, but I wanted to simplify the cost and help explain why the designs are priced the way they are. Let’s jump in.

Why Are Permaculture Designs Expensive?

a keyhole garden

Permaculture is a sustainable design system that aims to create ecological harmony between humans and nature. It’s all about creating a self-sufficient ecosystem that can sustain itself without external inputs like fertilizers and pesticides.

However, when it comes to implementing permaculture designs, one common issue that people encounter is the cost. Here are the 5 biggest factors that contribute to the cost of permaculture designs.

1. Highly Customized

a compass on a topographic map

Permaculture designs are often customized to suit the specific needs and characteristics of a particular site. This means that each design is unique, and as such, requires careful planning and implementation.

For example, a permaculture design for a hilly site would be different from one for a flat site. The design must take into account factors such as slope, soil type, climate, and vegetation, among other things.

This level of customization requires a lot of time and effort from a permaculture designer, which can translate into higher costs.

2. Knowledge & Skill Requirements

a rain barrel collecting water from a roof

Permaculture designs typically involve a variety of elements that work together to create a holistic system.

For example, a permaculture design might include a food forest, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting systems, and renewable energy sources such as solar panels.

Each of these elements requires specialized knowledge and skills to implement, which can add to the overall cost of the design.

3. High-Quality Materials

a pile of quality manure

Permaculture designs often involve the use of high-quality materials and techniques that are more expensive than conventional methods.

For example, instead of using chemical fertilizers, permaculture designs rely on natural fertilizers such as compost and manure. These materials may be more costly to obtain than synthetic fertilizers, but they are more sustainable in the long run.

4. Ongoing Maintenance

working in a keyhole permaculture garden

Permaculture designs are intended to be self-sustaining, but they still require ongoing maintenance to ensure that the system is functioning properly. This maintenance can involve tasks such as pruning, weeding, and harvesting, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive.

5. Experience

a permaculture garden with lots of vegetables

Experienced permaculture designers may charge more for their services than those who are just starting. This is because experienced designers have a track record of successful designs and can offer more specialized knowledge and skills.

3 Examples of Permaculture Designs (& Their Costs)

1. “The Food Forest” in Gawler, Australia

The Food Forest in Gawler, Australia before and after orchard
Image source:

“The Food Forest” in Gawler, Australia is a public park that was designed using permaculture principles to create a sustainable food forest.

The park features a variety of fruit and nut trees, as well as vegetable gardens and a composting area. It serves as a valuable community resource for education and sustainable food production.

The estimated cost to design the park was around $20,000 AUD.

2. “Lillie House” in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Lillie House permaculture site in Michigan
Image source:

This is a private residence that was designed using permaculture principles to create a sustainable homestead.

The property includes a food forest, edible landscaping, a chicken coop, and a rainwater harvesting system. It also hosts workshops and events to share knowledge and skills with the wider community.

Lillie House permaculture design plan
Image source:

The estimated cost to design the property was around $10,000 USD.

3. “Zaytuna Farm” in The Channon, New South Wales, Australia

One of my favorite sites, Zaytuna Farm is a permaculture demonstration site that was designed using permaculture principles to create a self-sustaining farm.

The farm features a diverse range of animals and crops, including pigs, cows, chickens, and vegetables. It also offers a range of courses and internships for people interested in learning about permaculture design and sustainable agriculture.

The estimated cost to design the farm was around $100,000 AUD.

To see a tour of Zaytuna Farm, check out this video:

Is a Permaculture Design Worth The Cost?

While the upfront cost of a permaculture design can be significant, the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial investment.

Permaculture systems are designed to be self-sustaining and can save you money on water, energy, and food costs over time. They also provide valuable ecosystem services, such as improving soil fertility, increasing biodiversity, and sequestering carbon.

They can also enhance your quality of life by providing fresh, healthy food, improving your connection to nature, and a sense of community. Living in harmony with the environment can lead to greater physical and mental well-being, making a permaculture design a valuable investment in your overall health and happiness.

Investing in a permaculture design can help you develop new skills and knowledge in sustainable living, gardening, and land management. These skills can be applied to other areas of your life and can even lead to new career opportunities in the growing field of sustainability and regenerative agriculture.

Overall, a permaculture design can be a worthwhile investment if you value long-term benefits, environmental sustainability, and improved quality of life.

If the cost of a professional design is too high, consider learning more about permaculture principles and attempting a DIY design to get started.

Speaking of DIY permaculture plans…

DIY Permaculture Design

Having a permaculture design means knowing the optimal layout and placement for your garden while avoiding mistakes that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The only problem is the average permaculture design costs over $1500.

But as a certified permaculture designer, I’ll show you how to do it for less than the price of a single fruit tree.