Permaculture is all about relationships, and boundaries are relationships.

Permaculture is all about relationships. If the elements of your design, whether it’s a landscape, your online business, or your daily practice, are not in good relationship to and with each other, then your design will fall apart.

In permaculture landscape design, we use zone and sector analysis to help us determine, establish, and maintain boundaries that are good for the land and good for the creatures (like us!) who inhabit that land.

Permaculture IS relationships. And healthy relationships are all about boundaries. 

Finding and Defining Your Emotional Zones and Sectors

The boundaries that you set, either intentionally or unintentionally, define the shape and trajectory of your relationships with the people and elements who cross or come into contact with those boundaries.

​This is equally true for physical/land-based boundaries (think fences and waterways) as it is for emotional ones.

Zones of Your Inner Landscape

Hands-On: Define Your Boundaries

What are your personal zones and sectors? 

This is an important question in any design. Think of your personal boundaries as the zones and sectors of your emotional landscape. You can create a diagram like the one Jane created, here, thinking through different types of boundaries:

Physical. What are your boundaries around being touched? Are you comfortable hugging strangers? It’s ok if you aren’t. Do you prefer to shake hands? That’s perfectly fine. It’s your body and you get to decide every single boundary about it.

Emotional. This includes time you’ll spend worrying about money, politics, work, family. It includes emotional labor for other people, and definitely includes those intense conversations on Social Media! CHOOSE your boundaries around all of these things, and write them down.

Material. This is about your stuff. How much will you keep, what will you share and with whom, and how will you spend your money? Which material possessions will matter to you, and which will not?

Time. How will you spend your time? Yes, all of these categories overlap each other and this one is especially connected to the emotional boundaries. Your time is your life, and when you give it away carelessly because of fuzzy or nonexistent boundaries, you will never get it back. So again, choose. 

Artwork by Jane Gray


Here’s a fun tool for quick boundaries

Personal Space Bubble!

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