The seven layers of a forest garden

Tree shrubs crowded up against each other

Toona sinensis & Phormium tenax in Martin Crawford’s forest garden

A quick reference for the multiple layers of a forest garden, because I can only ever remember 3 of them (see my logo)…

@AgroforestryT has a definition of forest gardening and helpfully lists the “seven layers” of a forest garden:

  1. Canopy—highest layer of trees, plan spacing correctly to allow enough light through to understorey
  • Small trees/shrubs—between & below canopy trees
  • Shrubs—mostly shade tolerant
  • Herbaceous perennials—die back in winter, contribute to ground cover
  • Ground cover—mostly creeping carpeting plants, with some clumping examples
  • Climbers—require sturdy trees to climb
  • Rhizosphere—root bearing plants and fungi