Muddy Boots garden re-design. CEAP. Evaluate the information.

Evaluate the information

To evaluate the information I have collected I used the following Permaculture design tools; functions and elements; links between elements, random assembly, key functions and setting SMART goals.

I thought about the key functions for the space and what elements could be use to fulfil these functions. I also looked at how the elements could work together. I tried really hard to stand back and think about functions first rather than deciding immediately on the specific element. This helped me to consider things in a new way, for example; Boundary markers (rather than fencing)

I researched picket fencing prices and thought about what I could afford. I worked out that to buy new picket fencing, fence posts and post mix would cost me around £140. Which seemed like a big chunk out of my budget. So I also thought about alternatives to fencing, such as using repurposed pallets, planting raspberry bushes and other edibles to mark boundaries or including a blackboard in the boundary. I really like the idea of the boundary fulfilling more than one function in my design, so I think I will probably mix and match some of these ideas with more traditional fencing.

At this point I was starting to get a clearer idea of what to include in my design. Please ignore the toddler scribble on the second photo below!



I narrowed my selection down to the elements that I most wanted in my design and wrote these down on pieces of paper. I then began to think about where elements should be located in relation to each other. I used the design tool of random assembly here. Initially I felt a bit sceptical about the usefulness of this design tool, but actually it brought to light some interesting possible combinations and drew great pictures in my minds-eye.


These were my favourite ideas that came out of using random assembly. IMG_0807

I thought more about the elements and functions that I wanted to include in my design and came up with 5 groupings or key functions that seemed to make sense as shown in the photo below. Certain elements needed to be in two groups, these are shown in orange pen. For example, the vertical planting could form part of the boundary but is also a gardening task. Also the den could be a good place in which to group people together and its also a great resource for free-play.


This flow-diagram was also useful in ensuring that each of my important functions were supported by multiple elements. I did more work on this below.

FUNCTION                                                                   ELEMENTS

Boundary to define the area and keep kids safe    Picket fencing                                                                                                                               vertical planting                                                                                                                           blackboard and signage                                                                                                               Bug hotel

Space for children to do gardening                          Raised bed                                                                                                                                    Boundary beds                                                                                                                              Key-hole or square foot garden                                                                                                  Digging area and access to tools

Bringing people together                                         Seating area                                                                                                                                  Gazeebo /den/ circle time space                                                                                                  Flexible activity space/ tables                                                                                                      Food and drink area

Activities to inspire free-play                                  Pallet playspace                                                                                                                            Loose parts storage                                                                                                                      Role play-space                                                                                                                            Dens

Specific task play                                                     Play kitchen                                                                                                                                   Sand pit/ mud pit                                                                                                                         Waterplay

I set some SMART goals.

  1. For the redesign to be completed and implemented by Mid April.
  2. For all costs to come in at under £300
  3. To enlarge the space to allow at least five more families to attend to each session
  4. To make better use of the space and create a logical flow of activity
  5. To add three new features to the current layout
  6. To improve the current sand pit, play kitchen and den



My garden design – Design process part two.

My Garden design is coming along well. I have done lots of work on it over the past months. The rapidly approaching spring is pushing me on, as I need to be ready to begin planting by the beginning of next month. This post follows on from the post entitled ‘My garden design, beginning the design process’. This post will detail additional stages in the ‘Think’ stage of the Permaculture design process.

Base map. The Base map below shows the dimensions, orientation and major features of the garden as it was in January 2014. The set of six beds in the centre of the garden were put in last summer with a view to doing this design and upping food production.




Overlays. I created overlays onto acetate. These are useful as they can show different aspects of the garden on different maps, keeping the original base map simple.


This overlay shows Zones and Desire linesIMG_0897

IMG_0899This overlay shows Sectors

Additional client interview                                                                                               

I have spoken lots to the other members of my family in an informal way about what they wanted from our garden. However, on reflection, I thought maybe I had made some assumptions about their wants, needs, likes and dislikes. So I went back over this with each member of my household and recorded their thoughts. For the children I did this in the form of a mind-map and for my husband we used an adaptation of the 4 questions tool, where he spoke and I wrote, then read his answers back to him. Photos of my notes are below. The blue building blocks are just used to cover their names and ages for reasons of privacy.IMG_0910IMG_0912

Key functions. The next stage was to decide upon Key functions. They were taken from considerations of the client interviews along with the work detailed in my previous post such; observations, boundaries, resources, functions/elements/systems and mapping. I decided to focus on five key functions for my design; food production, attracting beneficial insects, water capture and sustainable usage, soil improvement and places to sit and enjoy the garden. For each of these key functions I have set SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bounded.

1. Food production. I aim for the garden to provide something to eat four days out of each week from May to September 2014. I will record what I pick, cook and eat in a diary. I plan to grow annual and perennial vegetables and add more fruit trees and soft fruit.

2. Attracting beneficial insects. I will research and grow suitable plants to attract pollinators and beneficial insects to help my food crops be successful. I will add these plants to my planting plan by the end of March 2014. I will make a special effort to observe the garden insects and keep a record of what I see. I will use companion planting and guilds in my garden.

3. Water capture and sustainable usage. I will add guttering and water storage tanks to my sheds by May 2014. I will use drip irrigation in some of my vegetable beds. I will set up an overflow system from the rainwater tanks to keep the pond topped up. I will try not to use mains water at all this summer to irrigate my plants. I will record in a diary anytime my tanks are dry and I have to use mains water in the garden.

4. Soil improvement I will research sheet mulching and use this technique to improve the keyhole beds where the chicken run previously was. I will sheet mulch by the end of March 2014. I will use green manures on available beds to cover the soil throughout the year. I will continue composing the chicken bedding and our food and garden waste. I will aim to get horse manure for free in the autumn to cover the beds for the winter. I will aim to not buy in more than five bags of compost this year. I shall hope to reduce this consumption each year.

5. Places to sit and enjoy the garden I will move the position of the table and chairs to where it gets the evening sun. I will aim to eat dinner outside with my family at least once a week from May onwards, hopefully many more times. I will have at least six meals or BBQ’s in the garden with family and friends during the warmer months.


Remedial actions. The most pressing things to be addressed seem to be; the muddy paths, the lack of water capture on the sheds; developing a new run for the chickens and moving the table and chairs into a sunny spot.  I have created a new sectional chicken run, more on this in a later post. I am hoping to address the water capture and storage issue one weekend soon. I was be laying some stepping stones initially from the terrace to the main path, to avoid the muddy patch. The table and chairs are easy to move but I am waiting until after giving the lawn its first mow of the year when it has dried out a little more.

IMG_0901                                 This overlay shows some initial ideas about areas requiring attention.