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Keyline design explained in a unique way

This is a practical and unique explanation prepared by Andrew Millison as part of an Oregon State University’s Online Permaculture Design Certificate Course.

Keyline Design was developed by Australian farmer and engineer P.A.Yeomans (1905-1984) and his sons, it was the first integrated design system for agricultural ( and urban) development based on insights into fundamental, repeating land shapes and farm elements whose management is essential due to their relative permanence in the landscape.

The series is divided into 7 stages, the last being urban design.

Contour lines and water flow

Understanding contour lines; identifying slope, ridges and water drainage lines.

Landform water divides

Reading the shape of the landscape; identifying main ridges, spines, arms and water catchment areas. 

Design for water

Water retention zones, keypoints, keypoint ponds, dams, irrigation zones, keyline cultivation patterns and water reconstitution zones.

Design for access

Water and access is generally married. Road designs, dry and wet areas and runoff management.

Design for trees

Managing low atmospheric moisture. Riperian forests for retention and habitat. Contour strip forests. Planning for major storm events.

Design for management

Boundary lines. Management units created by ridges, riperian areas and roadways. Primary land units, managed through use of permanent fencing and temporal fencing.

The city forest

Concepts for water management in urban environments.

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