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Brag about your dryland swales

 
Posts: 152
Location: Southern Colorado, 6300', zone 6a, 16" precipitation
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Digging swales is hard work and I need some more motivation to keep going. Please tell me about your dry land swales here. Did they do anything noticeable? Did water ever actually start to seep at the bottom of hills? How many do you have in what acreage? Spacing? Depth and width? And please share your annual precipitation.

I am currently digging a ridiculous number of swales in an area with 16" precipitation. I just want to know that it will be worth it. Thanks.
 
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As far as the recharge thing .... getting enough of a moisture plume in the ground enough to create saturated flow and create a "seep" ... that's all highly dependent of the geology and how the soil is structured and layered.  

 
Posts: 36
Location: phoenix, az
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forest garden trees greening the desert
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Im doing small dams right now to soak water for trees, 4 medium sized and 3 small ones. When it rained in the first finished dam, it was very exciting. It collected 4-5' of water. The growth lasted months too. Starting swales soon, because im linking them to the dams. Thinking of the best way, amount and locations to do them, due to a wash that runs thru (reason i got the lot). At the highest points, the top 1-2' of lot is on a 2-3' limecrete shelf basically. Not sure if water infiltrates it or sits on top of it? the exposed sides look like asphalt, unexposed like concrete.( could moisture seep downward on limecrete shelf towards the wash, then evap as lime is exposed?) I think swale before lime is exposed to cover with soil from swale and continue moisture seepage down the hill towards wash. I had a few unfinished swales from making dam and the growth was really good by one of them. Swales definitely work. Get the fencing up, because the animals come kind of quick
 
Skyler Weber
Posts: 152
Location: Southern Colorado, 6300', zone 6a, 16" precipitation
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Good to hear they are helping. Did you say 4-5 feet? Did you mean inches? Also are they supporting trees? Also what distance between swales.

As to whether water goes through limestone, the technical answer is yes since water seepage created Carlsbad Caverns. But, it will happen so slowly that the water won't be available to your plants. However, I read about a Zimbabwean farmer (Zephaniah Phiri Maseko) who starts his first swale with the depth all the way down to bed rock.
zimbawe-swale.jpg
[Thumbnail for zimbawe-swale.jpg]
 
Skyler Weber
Posts: 152
Location: Southern Colorado, 6300', zone 6a, 16" precipitation
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Well, after digging 20+ swales over the course of a year, a new spring has developed in the low spot of my property. This was during a dry spell where there has been no rain or snow for three months. The water is pure and cold. Secondly, the spot has been dry for the past two years I have been at the property. So, I am convinced. Swales work, and they work faster than you might think.
 
jer ander
Posts: 36
Location: phoenix, az
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forest garden trees greening the desert
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Skyler Weber wrote:Well, after digging 20+ swales over the course of a year, a new spring has developed in the low spot of my property. This was during a dry spell where there has been no rain or snow for three months. The water is pure and cold. Secondly, the spot has been dry for the past two years I have been at the property. So, I am convinced. Swales work, and they work faster than you might think.



nice, can you share photos
 
jer ander
Posts: 36
Location: phoenix, az
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forest garden trees greening the desert
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Skyler Weber wrote:Good to hear they are helping. Did you say 4-5 feet? Did you mean inches? Also are they supporting trees? Also what distance between swales.

As to whether water goes through limestone, the technical answer is yes since water seepage created Carlsbad Caverns. But, it will happen so slowly that the water won't be available to your plants. However, I read about a Zimbabwean farmer (Zephaniah Phiri Maseko) who starts his first swale with the depth all the way down to bed rock.



yeh, the first rain after completing the first dam, it collected 4 to 5 feet of water. more than both the photos in my post. phone died and it drank it pretty quick. ill post drone pics. i did the rips. swales are not shaped yet. but basically at hill top where it starts to slope. and the entire swale system is for tree lines and agroforestry into the wash. only a few bigger ones and the rest in between will be hand raked and dug
 
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