Site Analysis – Zones & Sectors


Zones: a brief overview

Zoning is decided on two factors: the number of times you need to visit the plant, animal, or structure, and the number of times the plant, animal, or structure needs you to visit it.

Start at the nearest area first, get it under control, then expand outward

Think about the zones as circles within circles

  • Zone 0: House
    1. house design incorporating solar orientation, attached glasshouse or shadehouse, integration of living components as sod roof, vines, trellis, potted plants, roof gardens, passive heating and cooling strategies, companion animals.
  • Zone 1: Domestic Sufficiency
    1. continual observation, frequent visits, complete mulching, intensive pruning, full land use
    2. Herbs, vegetable garden, annuals with fast replacement of crop. Seedlings, young trees for outer zone placement, rare/delicate species, small domestic and quiet animals such as fish, rabbits, pigeons
    3. Composting, rain catchment tanks, greywater system, composting toilet
  • Zone 2: Orchard & Small Domestic Stock
    1. Visit 1-2 times a day, less intensively managed, less intensive pruning/care, spot mulching
    2. orchards (dwarf fruit trees), food forest, vegetable garden, berry bushes, useful shrubs, chickens
    3. Terraces, irrigation pond, hedges, trellis, windmill, solar panels, wood/toolshed
  • Zone 3: main crop forage, stored
    1. Managed by green manuring, spreading manure from Zone 2, and soil conditioning
    2. “farm” zone of commercial crop and animals for sale or barter, larger fruit/nut trees
    3. Larger ponds, feedstore or barn, field shelters as hedgerow or windbreaks
  • Zone 4: Gathering, forage, forestry, pasture
    1. Seasonal visits – Borders forest or wilderness, lightly managed
    2. Wild gathering, firewood, hardy unpruned volunteer plants, pasture or range.
    3. Water is stored, possibly with dams
  • Zone 5: wildlife “corridor”
    1. Natural, unmanaged environment for occasional foraging, recreation, etc.


Sectors: a brief overview

Sector analysis is based on deep observation of a site, and maps the incoming and outgoing energies of the site. Examples of items included in a sector analysis include:

  • Sun path
  • Prevailing wind direction
  • Storm wind direction
  • Water drainage/hydrology
  • Pollution
  • Wildlife
  • Microclimates
  • Topography
  • Precipitation
  • Soil
  • Hazards
  • Roads/Access
  • Easements
  • Water/mineral rights
  • Existing plants
  • Utilities
  • Neighborhood
  • Fire Risk


Paraphrased or directly quoted from Gardening Without Enemies: A Buddhist Approach to Permaculture workshop document, Myozen Barton Stone and Terrie Schweitzer