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



Random assembly

Yesterday I attended the first session of a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) led by my Diploma tutor, Hannah Thorogood. I was a participant on this course two years ago and found it hugely inspiring. I am planning on going along to most of the sessions this year to help out, revise my skills and observe the tutors, with a view to possibly teaching a PDC myself in years to come. The observing of the course fits in well with my ‘Twelve principles for twelve months’ project as February is ‘Observe and Interact’ month!

We were looking at design tools, so the session was very useful for me as I am heading into this stage of my first diploma design project. I have come away wanting to use a number of design tools to help me with the analysis stage of my planning.

The first tool I have used is called ‘Random assembly’ It is a simple and fun way of beginning to consider the possible links and interactions between elements in your design.


How to use random assembly

* Write all the elements (Annual veg/ chickens/pond/path etc) you have decided upon for your design down on a piece of paper. Place them face down on the table.

* Write six linking words down and number these 1-6 (Under/ on top of/ next to etc)

* Pick two elements at random and roll the dice to pick one linking word to place between them.

* See what you have come up with.

Some of these combinations will be good, some will be bad and some will be downright nonsense, but it is a fun process and throws up some ideas you may not have thought of. I wrote down all the ideas that were generated and used another design tool PNI (positive, negative, interesting) to grade them for future consideration.

Some ideas I will be using…..IMG_7812IMG_7822

And some I won’t ………….IMG_7814IMG_7821

I decided to try taking this one step further and assemble multiple elements together to see if any interesting ideas were thrown up. This provides even more opportunities for nonsense, but I actually quite like the one pictured below. I can visualise this working in an area of my plot. A drain pipe off the shed leading to the pond to keep it full, overflowing to water the perennial vegetables which are planted under fruit trees. IMG_7827