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Posts: 20
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Hi Everyone,

Im wondering more about how swales work. I'm starting a garden on top a hill in a open field (107' by 47'). The garden starts out flat and has a little sloping to the garden. The house is at the bottom of the hill. I have lots of pond liner an rain barrels I got from dumpster diving. I'm looking for a way to harvest water up by the garden so when we get dry spells I dont have to load up a trailier an take the water up.

Any advice, videos, ect would be great! Looking to do this cheaply.
 
Posts: 176
Location: springfield, MO
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I am in the same boat. I am leaning towards a pond near the top of the hill and a swale just on the uphill side of the garden. The pond could be used to get through the long dry spells using gravity.
 
Jeff Roan
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Ya I'm going to go up tonight and think of where I can build a pond/resivor up there. But I'm thinking the down side the hill a little more because I'm planing on a fire ring and hang out spot on the other side. I will have to bucket it up then but at least it will be on site. Figure ill keep the pond covered up so it retains more water. Keep me updated ill post some pics when I get around to it.
 
Posts: 236
Location: SE Wisconsin, USA zone 5b
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Here is a link to a nice article on swales from John Kitsteiner on his Temporate Climate Permaculture blog.
http://www.tcpermaculture.blogspot.com/2011/06/permaculture-projects-swales.html

There are also some great videos from Geoff Lawton on youtube. I can't seem to access the site right now to give you the link, but if you search for "harvesting water the permaculture way" you should find them.

Otherwise I would suggest reading Bill Mollison. Introduction to permaculture is good, Permaculture A designer's Manual is great if you can get you hands on it.

Since you are looking to build an upper pond I would also suggest researching keyline systems.


I hope this helps, good luck with you projects.
 
Posts: 10
Location: Cottesloe Sands, Perth, Western Australia
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Hi,
I'm at the top of a hill in an arid climate, so I have keenly consumed Brad Lancaster's books, our slope is very slight where I'm concentrating at the moment so I haven't done anything yet beyond soil improvement (mulch, open wicking beds and sunken "huegelculture" as we're on sand), but the next big job is a roof runoff collection basin at the top of our slope, with swales taking overflow on a scenic meander throughout the rest.
I believe it is very difficult for someone else to tell you what feature you should put where without seeing your land. As a minimum they would need a contour map and details of soil, vegetation etc... If you haven't already, I'd strongly suggest you read "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond" Vol 1 before you raise a spade, it might save a lot of work.

Without seeing your layout, or having a clue about your climate I'd suggest you seriously think twice about covering up the surface of a pond. A pond provides great beneficial habitat for your garden. Ours is effectively covered by Azolla (a local native here) which is reducing evaporation for free, as well as providing high protein chook food and high nitrogen fertilizer. I'm sure you can find something appropriate to your climate, planting can reduce evaporation by reducing windspeed (windbreaks at edge) and reducing the water temperature (shading the surface).

Have you been out in the rain yet? I can't recommend it strongly enough, I thought I knew what I was going to do, until I pulled on a good coat and went outside in a downpour and saw what was actually happening. When you see how much water is flowing where, it becomes much easier to see how you can subtly steer it to your advantage.

Don't get put off by Brad Lancaster's youtube videos. In my humble opinion, they are poor and do his books a huge disservice. The Geoff Lawton and Mollison recommendations are very good, but (after admitting, I haven't read this section in the designers manual), I feel Brad Lancaster has the best specialist book on making the most of your rain water.

Best of luck, let us know how you get on.
 
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