Back when we first bought the property, and we were starting to think about what we’d like to do in terms of building a house and putting in some productive systems, I did a sector analysis. This is one tool or technique used by permaculture practitioners in the early stages of creating a design, and it looks at the external factors that are going to influence a place. Things like winds, rain and storms, fire risk, noise, migratory pathways for birds or animals, flood risk, and summer and winter sun.
It was brought to mind because someone posted on facebook about a design they’re starting, and it doesn’t sound like they have a full sector analysis yet (they’re unsure about rainfall direction and prevailing winds). I assumed that everyone would start by doing a sector analysis, but maybe not all teachers emphasise how useful they can be. I have to say, my analysis has been very useful in planning what to set up and where to put it.
It’s a living thing, obviously – we update it as we learn more about the place we’re calling home. And other factors influence what can work and what can’t too; soil depth and quality, the slope of the land, existing tree cover and shade, wildlife, groundwater, lots of things. But planning for prevailing winds and rainstorms, and for the summer and winter solar path are – to my way of thinking – essential. And in WA, planning for your fire risk is also essential.
So I guess what I’m saying is, no matter how large or small your garden, a sector analysis is a really useful thing to do as a first step in designing your system.