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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Learn to design and manage permaculture systems

This course complements and follows on from Permaculture I, II and III, bringing together what you learn in these three courses to design and manage a comprehensive permaculture system.

  • The Permaculture IV course brings together all aspects of permaculture into the design and management of a comprehensive and balanced system.
  • This subject is relevant to both the home gardener and the commercial grower.
  • Permaculture Design and Management is a 100 hour course looking consisting of ten lessons and giving the student a comprehensive overview of design and management of the permaculture system.
  • If you are interested in obtaining a Permaculture Design Certificate, then Permaculture IV can form part of your studies towards this. For further details on how to achieve a PDC, and the different study options which we have available to you, please read the Permaculture Design Certificate article.

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Learn to better manage permaculture landscapes

Advanced CPD Course.

  • Learn about buildings in permaculture design.
  • Learn about waste disposal methods suitable for permaculture systems.
  • Understand the role of recycling in modern society.
  • Develop your knowledge of water irrigation techniques.
  • Develop skills in the preparation of development and management plans.
  • Study Permaculture IV as part of your studies towards a Permaculture Design Certificate.


The Permaculture Design and Management course comprises 10 lessons. 


  • Review the broad principles of sustainable landscaping and possibilities for incorporating ideas from permaculture into an existing or developing landscapes.
  • Develop knowledge of a range of more sustainable materials that can be used for developing buildings or other structures in a landscape.
  • Recommend ways to design and construct buildings that will complement the role of buildings in the permaculture environment.
  • Recommend ways to establish waste disposal systems suitable for permaculture systems.
  • Recommend systems for improved recycling in a sustainable community.
  • Design landscapes that are more capable of coping with natural disasters.
  • Develop better water management planning for a sustainable landscape.
  • Understand the role of indigenous plants and animals in permaculture systems
  • Prepare management and development plans for sustainable landscapes
  • Undertake a major design project for a site to improve the sustainability and also the productivity of that landscape.


Lesson 1. Overview of Permaculture
  • Introduction
  • Key Elements
  • Plants and Their Function in a Permaculture System
  • Techniques Often Used in Permaculture
  • Edges
  • Guilds and Stacking
  • Understanding Plant Names (Common Names, Scientific Names)
  • Understanding Natural Regeneration (Concerns, Implementation)
  • Advantages of Natural Revegetation
  • Disadvantages of Natural Revegetation
  • Natural Revegetation Relies on Succession
Lesson 2. Sustainable Building Materials
  • Introduction
  • Buildings
  • Indoor/Outdoor Buildings
  • Buildings for Storage
  • Alternatives for Roofs and Walls
  • Types of Materials
  • Earth Building
  • How to Make a Mud Brick
  • Laying Mud Bricks
  • Wall Finishes
  • Building with Stone
Lesson 3. Integration of Buildings into the Environment
  • Essential Elements for Houses in Different Zones (Temperate to Subtropical, Tropical, Desert)
  • Conserving Energy
  • House Modifications
  • Alternative Energy
Lesson 4. Waste Disposal
  • Liquid Waste (Greywater, Black Water)
  • Waste Disposal and Recycling
  • Natural Fertilisers (Types of Nitrogen)
  • Factors Affecting Nitrogen Release from Organic Sources (Microorganism Population, Heat and Chemical Treatment, Soil Reaction, Soil Temperature, Concentration and Source of Organic Nitrogen, Moisture and Aeration)
Lesson 5. Recycling
  • Composting
  • Moisture Level
  • Oxygen
  • Temperature
  • pH
  • C/N Ratio
  • What Can Go Wrong
  • What Can Be Put in the Compost (Plant Material, Dead Animals or Birds, Manure, Garbage, Straw, Paper, Sawdust)
  • Different Methods of Composting (Indore Method, The 14 Day Method, Sheet Composting, Compost Bins, In a Garbage Bag, Worm Digester Method, Trench Composting)
  • The Finished Product
  • Some Ideas for Using Recyclable Materials
  • Waste Water Treatment (Sewage, Sewerage)
  • The Classification and Composition of Wastewater (Sanitary Sewage, Industrial Waste, Storm Water)
  • Recycling Waste Water
  • Tastes and Odours
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Water Sanitation Methods
  • Reed-Beds
Lesson 6. Designing for Natural Disasters
  • Introduction
  • Fire, Flood, Cyclone, Tsunami
  • Windbreaks
  • Designing and Planting a Fire Break
  • How to Arrange Plants
  • Distances from Buildings
  • Vehicular Access
  • Maintenance
  • Fire Resistant Plants
  • Water Erosion
  • Biological or Plant-Based Erosion Control
  • Mechanical or Earthwork Erosion Control
  • Gully Control
  • After the Flood (Loss of Nutrients, Salinisation, Acidification, Soil Structural Decline, Contamination)
Lesson 7. Natural Watering
  • The Water Efficient Garden
  • Hoses
  • Filtration
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Mosquitoes
  • Water Saving Measures
  • Household Water
  • Excess Water
  • Overcoming Problems with Boggy or Wet Areas (Improving Drainage, Planting with Water Loving Plants, Problems with Wet Gardens, Plants for Wet Areas)
Lesson 8. Indigenous Plants and Animals
  • Introduction
  • Wildlife Management
  • Urban Settings
  • Fencing
  • Edge Effects
  • Birds in a Permaculture System
  • How Plants Benefit Birds
  • Plants Which Attract Birds
  • Bees in a Permaculture System (The Hive, Lids, Supers, Bases, Excluder, Frames and Foundations, Finishes)
  • Plants Which Attract Bees (Ornamental Garden, Herb Garden, Fruit Garden, Vegetable Garden)
Lesson 9. Preparing Management and Development Plans
  • Planning and Managing a Garden
  • Copying Nature
  • Plant Application (Trees, Shrubs)
  • Starting a Permaculture Farm
  • Permaculture Design
  • Climate
  • Structure of a Permaculture System (Plants, Soil, Drainage, Irrigation, Using Microclimate Modifiers)
  • Drainage and Erosion
Lesson 10. Major Design Project
  • Case Study - Living off the Grid
  • Plants for Permaculture

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Go to nurseries and agricultural supply companies and inquire about environmentally safe pesticides. Write a report on these products.
  • Explain the methods available to someone who wishes to control pests, diseases and weeds without using potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Observe the construction process of a building or structure that involves some type of earthworks (e.g. roads, dams, etc.).
  • Briefly write a short report on mud brick dwellings. What are the benefits of this in of structure? What are the disadvantages?
  • Take a photograph of your home or residence. Discuss your residence in relation to designing with consideration to the environment (e.g. does it efficiently utilise sun and shade, is it energy efficient).
  • Describe the importance of house design in relation to location, e.g. tropical region of Queensland or west coast of Tasmania.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about allowable use of waste material in your area. Consider asking about grey water, septic tanks, use of effluent and animal wastes, etc. Write a report to 250 words on the task.
  • Contact and obtain information on composting toilets from a manufacturer. Compile this information and use it as a personal reference.
  • Contact the local council or health department and inquire about recycling methods available for residents of your shire. How has the council encouraged recycling?
  • Find a home site (which has an existing home on it, or is planned to be built on), which is prone to natural disaster. This might, for instance, be in a flood or fire prone area; or perhaps a tropical climate that is prone to cyclonic storms.
  • Consider what measures can be taken in the permaculture development of this property, to deal with the likelihood of a disaster at some future date.
  • Contact a supplier of windmills and find out all that you can about the use of these devices for supplying water (i.e. pumping from a river, lake, dam, ground water etc.).
  • Discover the alternatives available, the costs involved, the applications, operation etc.
  • Contact the National Parks and Wildlife department and obtain as much information as possible on wildlife corridors, conservation, etc. Contact your local council department and inquire about their wildlife corridors, etc. Are they similar or drastically different?
  • Can you think of a reason why there may be a difference?
  • For a month period, write down all tasks performed by yourself and anyone who enters your permaculture garden. Submit this work schedule plus a brief report on how it may be possible to improve the time efficiency in the garden.
  • Write a report on where you think ‘alternative’ permaculture is heading in terms of main-stream acceptance.


  • Study Permaculture Design and Management to build on your existing knowledge of permaculture.
  • Learn about designing and managing permaculture systems - embark on practical research and exercises to develop your skills and knowledge.
  • You can start the course at any time - just go to the "It's easy to enrol" box at the top of this page.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, get in touch with our specialist Permauclture tutors today. They will be pleased to answer your questions and discuss your study aims.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.

Check out our eBooks

PoultryPoultry are entertaining as pets and life sustaining as a commercial product! Whether you are seeking a book as a beginner poultry keeper or if you are embarking on a new career in poultry production or management, this book is for you. Easy to read, easy to understand and packed with easy to implement practical advice. Know how to care for the health and wellbeing of poultry and make production a commercially viable enterprise.
Professional Practice for ConsultantsExplore becoming a consultant. This ebook contains chapters on how to be a consultant, packaging your services, delivering the services, building your resources, finding the work and getting the job, planning and ethics.
Caring for DogsA book for both students and dog owners. This book has been designed to complement our dog care and pet care courses; but also to provide a sound foundation for choosing the right breed, and caring for a dog whether as a pet, or a working animal. Contents cover Breeds, Creating a healthy home for dogs, legal issues, dog biology, recognising poor health, parasites, illnesses, nutrition, reproduction, dog psychology, behavioural development, training tips, behaviour problems, grooming, working in the dog industry, and more.
Plant Pests & DiseasesAre you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into your plant...visit the bookshop to find out more...