Forest Gardening: The 7 Layers

Permaculture magazine
Tuesday, 9th June 2015

To create a fully functioning forest garden, optimising all the niches by designing and planting the seven layers is a useful part of stacking and it is not so difficult as it may seem as long as you have enough space for the larger trees. The layers are: High tree canopy, smaller trees, shrubs, rhizosphere, ground cover, root crops and climbers.

Maddy Harland, editor of Permaculture magazine, shows us around her edible food forest, exploring what she grows in the different layers and how she uses them.

From cherry and walnut as high canopy trees, apples, pears and Nepalese pepper as smaller trees to groundcovers of strawberries, Nepalese raspberries and herbs. Add truffle innoculated hazel and the nitorgen fixing properties of comfrey and Siberian pea to the rhizosphere, perennial kales and soft fruit bushes for herbaceous cover plus native wildflower, and Jerusalem artichokes and horseradish for roots and you easily have the seven layers of a forest garden.

All of Maddy's plantings are multifunctional, working together to create an abundant and whole ecosystem through symbiotic relationships, and the whole garden has been organic since 1990.

Further resources

How to Make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield, for a special price of £12.70

Watch: The oldest food forest in Britain

Watch: 300 year old food forest in the suburbs



Trees for Gardens, Orchards
and Permaculture
by Martin Crawford,
for a special price of £18.70

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