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Swale on contour with A frame

 
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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I am getting ready to put a few swale on contour using a wooden A-frame I build out of 2x4 I had laying around.

The grass has a lot of dips and depression from the worker and machine that laid the sod out when I moved in a few year ago.
Will those depression not affect the contour reading if the one leg of the A-frame is sitting in it? If so how do I ensure I get a correct reading to find the correct contour?

Thanks,
Kris
 
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Kris Minto wrote:I am getting ready to put a few swale on contour using a wooden A-frame I build out of 2x4 I had laying around.

The grass has a lot of dips and depression from the worker and machine that laid the sod out when I moved in a few year ago.
Will those depression not affect the contour reading if the one leg of the A-frame is sitting in it? If so how do I ensure I get a correct reading to find the correct contour?

Thanks,
Kris



Well the idea is that when you encounter uneven land like a dip or bump, you have to move the leg of the A frame to the left or right of it until you find the exact spot where it's level. Your swale may be a squiggly line and that's okay. Technically you don't have to 100% perfect when you are making your contour line but you do have to be perfect once you've dug the swale and are evening out the bottom of it. In other words, the bottom of the swale is what you need to make perfectly on contour. By making a contour line you essentially are finding and even path to dig along so you aren't making your swale differing depths as you go. Make sense?
 
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I did exactly what you're going to do last fall and early this spring. When I encountered a little bump that threw things off, I'd just flatten it out. In the case of little holes, I fill them in. Now I want to be clear that I'm refering to bumps and dips that can be leveled with one (1) shovel full of soil. Anything bigger than that and I try to go around it if I can. I always go on the high side of the abnormality, because I can dig the swale deeper to accommodate the change. It pretty easy to make little adjustments as you go along. Once it fills with water the first time, you'll know where to make changes. The bottom being level is what's critical to prevent puddles and islands. The berm can vary quite a bit in my experience. The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that the sill is perfectly level and able to accommodate the maximum flow without blowing out.
Don't be afraid to get out there and do some digging. Make mistakes and then fix them. Experience is the best way to learn this particular skill. Just keep trying until it's right.
Best luck to you


 
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