Integrated Design

Gale & Snowden offers a fully integrated ecological landscape design service based on permaculture principles – the key driver of all our projects and at the heart of our in-house design team. Full Landscape Institute design services are provided as part of our design services for all RIBA Stages. We also can continue our involvement over time to aid with the evolution of the system and advice on maintenance

We collaborate with several like-minded specialists to provide a comprehensive landscape design based on Permaculture principles, including:

  • Species specialists
  • Aquaculture consultants
  • Specialist plant suppliers
  • Reed bed and nutrient reclamation experts
  • Landscape architects
  • Wildlife and animal specialists

Our landscape design work, focusing on naturally productive landscapes, ranges from private gardens to public parks and urban open spaces, and from individual allotments to community gardens. We also design highly productive and habitat rich agricultural systems for both small- and large-scale farms

People as Part of the Ecosystem

Gale & Snowden is interested in how human settlements can be integrated into the ecology of a site. By designing with natural systems, benefits can be achieved for all organisms sharing the site. Until this is accomplished, a development cannot claim to be sustainable

As ecologists, who are also architects, we often see things differently to other architects who aim to only design ‘sustainable’ buildings

Landscapes can be designed to meet key human needs of food, water, energy and shelter in a way that also enhances the natural environment. This can be achieved by employing Permaculture design principles

By understanding how biological systems work in nature and applying them to human settlement design, these principles can be harnessed to design inspiring, productive and biodiversity-rich environments that are low-maintenance and self-perpetuating


  • Lower energy inputs by reducing chemical and mechanical interventions
  • Lower maintenance requirements and reduced running costs due to this reduction of inputs
  • Lower water consumption
  • Reduce wind chill factors onto buildings and external spaces by over 50%
  • Educational – linking user input and output and providing a connection for people with the natural environment
  • Reduce transportation pollution by using bio-regional resources
  • Enhance the ecology of a site

Key Principles

Understand the landscape

Design from knowledge, obtaining as much information about the site as possible before commencing design work, including information from topographical and species surveys

Preserve ecologically valuable features

Protect rare species or particularly good specimens


Consider the locality beyond the site boundaries and the bio-regional climate as this may affect the design

Natural principles

Design with nature by following natural processes, setting up beneficial relationships and mimic natural ecosystems to avoid the use of chemicals or unnecessary work. Exploit existing or create new microclimates, benefiting flora, fauna and people


Habitat creation and careful species selection is essential for a successful robust ecological landscape design

Water in the landscape

Consider available water resources on site such as spring-water, rainwater, grey-water and black-water. As an increasingly valuable resource, approximately 20% of a site should be considered for aquatic/wetland habitat

Key Principles

Nutrient recycling

Consider mechanisms to recycle nutrients on site, retaining/adding to site fertility

Food production

Consider food production systems for people and farmed animals/wildlife

Structures in the landscape

Consider introducing man-made structures such as earth mounds, walls, walled gardens, pergolas, climbing structures, fencing, etc. to create microclimates, increase habitats and provide landscape features


Designing for frequency of use is often advantageous to reduce unnecessary work/movement

Wild-life corridors

Ensure that wildlife has enough cover to be able to penetrate all suitable areas of a site


Successful ecological landscaping also requires thoughtful aesthetic design considering user requirements, historical references, etc


Key design features to enhance the landscape:

  • Hedge planting, including native species, around the site perimeter to enhance wildlife
  • Micro-climate design including windbreaks to shelter the site
  • Enhancing and creating new water features to provide grey and black water treatment and additional wildlife habitat
  • Forest garden and Permaculture planting techniques, featuring trees and shrubs that are largely native to the area, as well as decorative and fruiting. Planting should be mainly perennial or self-seeding
  • Reinforcement of existing wildlife habitats and creation of new ones