How to Use Plant Succession Instead of Herbicides?

Students of Geoff’s Online Permaculture Design Course have question-and-answer sessions where Geoff fields a number of questions every week and answers them via videos. This question was pulled from the 2021 collection. For more permaculture insights, check out the free Masterclass at


Geoff has mentioned using plant system succession instead of herbicides. What are some examples of beneficial plants that dominate systems? What are fast carbon pathway functions? Would you walk us through an example situation where this would be the best solution?

Key Takeaways

With logs on the ground, so rotten they are nearly broken down and rough branches decomposing alongside understory coffee, there is a rampant perennial groundcover controlling the ground. The groundcover will dominate the ground until the maturing forest shades it out. The groundcover takes over the job of herbicide until it is taken out by the established system. Until then, the groundcover can be chopped and dropped to feed the forest.

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About Geoff:

Geoff is a world-renowned permaculture consultant, designer, and teacher that has established demonstration sites that function as education centers in all the world’s major climates. Geoff has dedicated his life to spreading permaculture design across the globe and inspiring people to take care of the earth, each other, and to return the surplus.

About Permaculture:

Permaculture integrates land, resources, people and the environment through mutually beneficial synergies – imitating the no waste, closed loop systems seen in diverse natural systems. Permaculture applies holistic solutions that are applicable in rural and urban contexts and at any scale. It is a multidisciplinary toolbox including agriculture, water harvesting and hydrology, energy, natural building, forestry, waste management, animal systems, aquaculture, appropriate technology, economics and community development.

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