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The Best Permaculture Books

Avatar for Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: November 23, 2021
The Best Permaculture Books

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What is permaculture?

Displeased with the environmental destruction all around, ecosystems expert Bill Mollison came up with the concept of permaculture. 

This idea was derived from “permanent agriculture” and it’s centered on building sustainable ecosystems as opposed to traditional agriculture which is harming the environment. 

Permaculture is not something you master in one sitting. The knowledge involved here is so vast, so it’s definitely worth getting a book to guide you, whether you have zero knowledge or you’re expanding your horizon. 

I’ve listed the best permaculture books that can help you build or improve your sustainable system. 

Let’s check them out. 

Top Pick

Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual Hardcover is our top pick. This is truly the overall best permaculture textbook on the market. It shares vast knowledge and experience that will help you become a sustainable producer in the shortest time possible.

The Best Permaculture Books Are:

1. Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual Hardcover — Best Overall

Permaculture A Designers Manual Hardcover


If you want to fully understand the principles of permaculture, then it’s just fitting to get the book by the one who coined the term and developed the idea. This informative permaculture book by Bill Mollison is considered a “bible” by many permaculture enthusiasts.

  • Pages: 600 pages
  • Pub Date: January 01, 1988
  • Publisher: Tagari Publications
  • Author: Bill Mollison
  • Edition: 1st Edition

What the Book Is About

This textbook is crafted to provide a conscious design as well as maintenance of productive agricultural ecosystems.

It is written to help you achieve resilience, stability, and diversity in your natural ecosystems. It helps promote the unique integration of people as well as landscape, providing shelter, energy, food, and other materials in a very sustainable manner. The philosophy behind this book is one of working with nature.

The philosophy is of thoughtful and protracted observation of looking at ecosystems in all of their functions. It helps ecosystems uniquely demonstrate their evolutions.

What You Will Learn

This book is a definitive permaculture design that has been in print since 1988. It’s a curriculum and textbook for the 72-hour certificate course in permaculture.

The manual is written for designers, students, and teachers. It does not only follow on but also expounds on the earlier versions of the book written in 1978 (Permaculture One) and 1979 (Permaculture Two). With this book, you will learn strategies and design methodologies for both rural and urban applications. 

It does a great job of describing natural farming techniques and property design.

About the Author

This book is by Bill Mollison, who is the ED of the Permaculture Institute. The institute was created in 1979 to educate people on the real-world design of legal as well as economic systems.

2. Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture — Best for Home-Scale

Gaia’s Garden A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture


If you’re looking for an amazing resource to help you with great ideas for transforming your garden, you can check out “Gaia’s Garden.”

  • Pages: 313 pages
  • Pub Date: April 01, 2009
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Author: Toby Hemenway
  • Edition: 2nd Edition

What the Book Is About

Toby Hemenway wrote this textbook in 2000 (1st Edition) and then updated it in 2009 (2nd Edition). He begins by describing what permaculture is all about and then talks about a garden’s ecology.

He’s not much for the typical landscapes of lawns and a few flowers and shrubs bordering it. We truly like what he says, in nature, there’s no such thing as waste. This updated edition comes with a new section on urban permaculture. The new chapter is written specifically for people in suburbs and cities who have limited growing space.

What You Will Learn

This permaculture book lets you in on how to design your landscape to be more ecologically efficient, resourceful, and how to make it a low-maintenance landscape.

Gaia’s Garden is focused on food production. But the principles also apply to any sort of landscape, which can be an attractive design, a low-maintenance focused design, or a food production system. It features a step-by-step process to guide you through effective permaculture.

At the same time, it goes into an impressive depth that’s very easy to understand to give you a whole new perspective on landscapes.

About the Author

The author, Toby Hemenway, is a highly experienced researcher in immunology and genetics. He had a career change when he discovered permaculture. He created a rural permaculture place in Southern Oregon with his wife.

3. Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture — Best for Integrative Farming & Gardening

Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture


If a practical guide to small-scale integrative gardening and farming is what you’re after, then “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture” will be good for you.

  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Pub Date: April 11, 2011
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Author: Sepp Holzer
  • Edition: 1st Edition

What the Book Is About

The book was published by Chelsea Green Publishing on the 11th of April 2011. It is by far, the best permaculture manual on eco-friendly and sustainable gardening.

It is transcribed in a personal, very logical, down-to-earth way. All the content makes total sense and will align with your observations. It is an incredibly practical textbook. Unlike conventional permaculture books that are somehow detached from reality, Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture doesn’t over-complicate things.

This manuscript, however, requires you to work with nature without the use of unnatural shortcuts.

What You Will Learn

This is one of the best permaculture books for farmers in humid cold climates. Sepp Holzer used the principles of permaculture simply through his open-minded and careful interaction and observation with his landscape.

This author farms in the mountainsides in Austria, which is 1,500 meters above sea level. The landscape is an elaborate network of tracks, waterways, ponds, raised beds, and terraces. Unlike his neighbors who have spruce monocultures, Sepp has a permaculture setup.

Inspired by his unique landscape, the author shares the knowledge and skills he acquired over the years. He does a good job of sharing every detail of his farming techniques. He does not help you learn how to develop a holistic ecosystem, but also how to make a good living from farming.

His amazing thinking processes are based on the principles of nature that helped him develop his productive systems.

About the Author

Sepp Holzer was born in Salzburg, Austria, and is an international consultant for natural agriculture, author, and farmer. He started working on his parents’ farm in 1962 and pioneered the use of permaculture and ecological farming at high altitudes.

4. The Resilient Farm and Homestead — Best for Whole Systems Design Approach

he Resilient Farm and Homestead


Do you want to improve perennial crops’ soil fertility, water security, landscaping, and production of nutrient-dense food? You’ll need “The Resilient Farm and Homestead” permaculture book.

  • Pages: 320 pages
  • Pub Date: June 03, 2013
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Author: Ben Falk
  • Edition: Illustrated Edition

What the Book Is About

This is an essential, comprehensive, and practical how-to manuscript with detailed info on growing perennial crops, nutrient-dense food, soil fertility, and water management. The book is a perfect choice for people who are ready to survive and thrive in change. It is a great resource for preparation, regeneration, as well as resiliency.

What You Will Learn

This great book is a manual for creating highly functional, beautiful, and durable ecosystems fit to handle an era of rapid transition.

This book is well-written, it’s truly engaging, practical, and approachable. We couldn’t recommend this manuscript enough, especially if you’re new to permaculture. 

The book mainly focuses on how we can create the best systems and design our world to be highly productive. The Resilient Farm and Homestead emphasizes how you can use permaculture to design the place you live. It covers the design process, water management, fertility harvesting, and more.

Amazingly, this book balances the details and structure of a textbook with an approachable and exciting voice.

About the Author

Ben Falk is a site developer and land designer whose research farm has been admired by many. The author’s integrative approach to transforming buildings and landscapes is outstanding. He shares general information on a subject that goes beyond his whole systems research farm.

5. Practical Permaculture — Best for Home Landscapes

Practical Permaculture


If you have been looking for a permaculture book that is uniquely designed to provide a wide variety of suggestions for making your landscape more sustainable, look no further than this great manuscript by Jessi Bloom.

  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Pub Date: February 4, 2015
  • Publisher: Timber Press
  • Author: Jessi Bloom
  • Edition: Illustrated Edition

What the Book Is About

The authors of the book have precisely outlined every facet of permaculture, ensuring that you get flawless advice and inspiring examples for plant selection, implementation, design, and analysis. This hardworking manual is designed to transform every reader who is ready to embrace new permaculture techniques.

What You Will Learn

This is a life-changing permaculture book for home landscapes. It outlines impressive ideas for improving just about any piece of landscape. The manual provides reliable tips for different climates and altitudes.

The manuscript begins with a brief and informative introduction to permaculture. Then it builds on the historical origins without repeating the author’s visionary work. The book offers very clear examples and bases its information on modernized concepts and science.

The framework of this manuscript is a step-by-step one that is well thought out for developing a landscape by using permaculture principles. The manual helps you master the important aspects of your land by following the dynamics of nature. You get to learn the use of design tools like patterns, edges, zones, and sectors in a highly approachable way.

Unlike conventional permaculture books, this unique manual offers genuine insight and value into the process of landscape designing. Having gone through many available permaculture textbooks, we find ourselves recommending this book over and over again.

About the Author

Jessi Bloom is an ecological landscape designer and Dave Boehnlein is a permaculture expert. They created Practical Permaculture to provide enthusiastic farmers with all the tools they need for a holistic approach to life. 

Things to Consider When Looking for Permaculture Books

Here are important things to consider when looking for the best permaculture books:

Kindle or Paperback or Hardcover

These are all great book types for permaculture enthusiasts, and it all depends really on your lifestyle.


With the electronic version of the book, you get to enjoy some cool features such as electronically bookmarking or even enlarging the font size to avoid eye strain. With the kindle, you can easily just download the permaculture book of your choice. 

What’s good about the electronic version is it is way cheaper than a traditionally printed book, provided you already have a Kindle device. 


If you prefer the actual scent of books and love leafing through the pages, a paperback or hardcover is for you. Also referred to as a softback or softcover, a paperback is a physical, tangible book that you can hold in your hands. Compared to hardcover, the paperback is definitely lighter. 


A hardcover book is the most prestigious in the binding world. Also referred to as a hardback or case bound, a hardcover manuscript is the flagship edition of physical books. Unlike paperback permaculture books, the hardcover ones are sturdier. 

So, Which One Should You Choose?

You may be surprised to hear that for most people, the traditional paperback and hardcover are still their favorite choice.

So, why do people still prefer print over the convenience of reading on kindle? Paperback and hardcover permaculture books are cheaper if you do not already have a Kindle or an alternative ebook reader. 

A physical permaculture book is something that you can bring along with you.

But the final say on whether you should get a Kindle or paperback/hardcover version depends entirely on your preference and budget.

Are You a Beginner or an Expert in Permaculture?

You probably expect all permaculture books to be detailed, highly informative, and practical for both the beginner and expert. But that may not be the case with some of the books you will come across.

The best book overall is one that introduces you to permaculture and effectively explains how this concept can help you become a sustainable producer.

Final Thoughts

For this roundup, the winner is Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual Hardcover. This great manuscript is a must-read for anyone interested in improving landscaping, soil fertility, and water security among other things. The author’s great sense of humor makes this book a great read. Not to mention that the many diagrams and charts will help you see things more clearly.

This book is available in hardcover edition only, which is great because it is more durable compared to other paperback permaculture books. This book should be a great way to start and understand the overall concept of permaculture. Besides, consider it like a prerequisite of getting an in-depth look from the guy who developed the concept from the start.

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