Darren Doherty Talks The Keyline Design Process and the Importance of Building Soil in the Landscape. (PVP016)


Darren Doherty of Regrarians joins me from Australia to fill in some of the gaps surrounding Keyline design.

While the whole Keyline design system is complex and way beyond the scope of this podcast.  This episode should give you a brief introduction into what Keyline is, where it can be used, and what it can accomplish.  Like all other design systems Keyline isn’t the be all, end all, it is another tool in the tool box help design a regenerative landscape.

For those that want to learn more check out Darren’s work, some of it below, and P.A. Yeomans books.  Darren recommends The Keyline Plan and The Challenge of Landscape.

Keyline design is a foundation of technique and planning using a scale of permanence.  It’s focus is on reacting to a climate of an environment, a site, and then using the landscape’s shape to maximize the possibility of a sustainable, regenerative environment.

Key Takeaways from this Episode:

  • Keyline planning can be used for any production landscape in any climate.
  • You don’t need sloped land to implement Keyline planning. 
  • Focus on building soil from Day 1.   And that doesn’t mean immediately jumping into earthworks.  Massage the landscape to get it to hold and absorb water.  Simple techniques can be used to build soil.
  • Use the first few years to build soil and observe the site.  Test out different designs.  Bounce designs off of people.  Then when you are ready to implement your refined design you have a good base of soil to work with.
  • Focus on addressing causes not effects.  To often we try to fix the problems with land not the root cause of the problems.
  • Stay of the perennial permaculture hamster wheel.  Avoid taking too much on.  Only set out to do what you can actually achieve.  Some people take on so many permaculture projects that they never get anything done and never actually start practicing permaculture.

Want to learn more about Keyline from Darren Doherty? Check out his online, on-demand Keyline Basics course HERE.

You’ve heard about Keyline, read about it and even done courses about it and still are struggling with it and how to actually apply it? Don’t worry you’re one of many 1000’s of people who have been similarly afflicted. Now with the eHD Keyline Farming Basics series we’ll get you sorted so that you can firmly understand what this great farming system is ALL about and how to apply it to today’s landscapes and situations…

Understanding the geometry of Keyline has always been difficult for most people, particularly if they don’t have a firm grip on the patterns of topography. Understanding the Geometry of Keyline is critical to your full application of the Keyline Farming system in your projects. This is the first in a series of eHD workshops that will help you along that process.

Content:  The Geography of Keyline, Keyline Patterning, Q&A

The link for more information.


You can view some great Keyline Design Course Notes from Darren Doherty HERE.


This is a free 36 page document.

Keyline Notes



Darren Doherty on Keyline – The Video Series

Books mentioned in this episode:

More information about Darren Doherty, Regarians, and Heenan Doherty:

Heenan Doherty



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