AMORY – For Wisconsin native Chris Smaglick, combining a love of drawing, gardening and architecture led him to researching and constructing a landscape design for his yard based on the principles of permaculture, a branch of ecological and environmental design and engineering that develops a self-maintained system that models a natural ecosystem.
“It’s been a learning experience. The last two years I did online research in permaculture, edible landscapes and food forests. I structured the land here based on my understanding of those principles,” Smaglick said.
The landscape of Smaglick’s yard is structured in a way that’s designed to harvest rainwater. The water collects in swells which are actually compost mounds. The mounds start with logs and sticks then top off with smaller brush.
“You build it up like a lasagna,” Smaglick said.
Water collects in the swells and percolates so that the mound becomes like a sponge. Through this system of swells, water is moved across the landscape.
“God makes the way,” Smaglick said.
The idea is to create an environment to kickstart the process of soil regeneration and exploit and imitate naturally occurring patterns.
Another tool Smaglick uses to accomplish this is layering. A canopy followed by an understory of smaller trees make way for shrubs, herbs, soil surface crops and root crops. A vertical layer of climbers or vines like runner beans makes a contribution to this edible landscape as well.
Smaglick currently has sweet banana peppers, two kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, prickly pear cactus, a multitude of herbs and flowers, including bearded irises, mexican petunias and oleander.
When the system is set up correctly using passive rainwater harvesting and layering, a regenerative system is created and, like a forest, operates as a healthy ecological system that can eventually function on it’s own.
Along with the Japanese Maples and Confederate Rose plants that Smaglick sells, he is also available to help anyone who is interested in this process in figuring out where their water flow is and start building edible landscaping mounds.
“It’s too neat not to share,” Smaglick said.