Design from patterns to details.
It can be tempting to begin your permaculture journey by picking a favorite project from That Blog and replicating it in your yard. But, the seventh principle encourages a different way of doing things.
Designing from patterns to details suggests a thoughtful three-step process for deciding what projects to undertake. First, ask what you want to accomplish. Do you want to attract wildlife? Which species would you like to see in your yard, and which would be unwelcome visitors? Or, do you want to produce food? Are you thinking about growing a few herbs, or eating a big salad from your garden every night?
Once you know your goal, think about what kinds of patterns will lead to the desired outcome. What functions will the project need to serve? How will those functions work together? Here is where you might decide that your yard needs a water source for birds, or that your vegetable garden absolutely must include lots of tomatoes.
Finally, decide how those patterns will be embodied in your project. Will the water source be a bird bath or a pond? What plants will you put nearby to provide cover for birds before they approach the water? And for those tomato plants, where will you put them so they get enough sun? How will you build up the soil to help the plants produce the biggest, most delicious tomatoes?
At the end of this process, you’ll have a plan for a successful project. Using the goal-pattern-details framework prevents us from ending up with projects that looked good on paper but don’t lead to the outcomes we wanted for our own yard.