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Looking for Input on my Swale Plan  RSS feed

 
A. M. Watters
Posts: 22
Location: Central Texas, Edwards Plateau
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Hi permaculture geniuses!

I am thinking about digging a swale that connects to my downspout and then delivers water to a portion of my planned micro food forest.
The plan is to make the swale into a dry creek bed. Water catchment in a tank of some kind is not a great option for this spot as the downspout is right next to our front door.
So, does this look like a reasonable plan? Am I correct in thinking that filling the swale with rocks will allow condensation from the air and increase the water available to my plants? (We have a lot of humidity.) Is there a more economical way to achieve the same result?

The map is not drawn to scale, but for reference, we are on .17 of an acre corner lot. No HOA, but I would like to keep a relatively formal appearance.


 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4026
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
172
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AM, I did the same sort of thing at one of my past homes.
I made it look like a creek that wandered through the yard. Lined it with stones from a local river and even had a small waterfal and pond. Planted all sorts of plants along the way.
It was usually dry but when it rained it was pretty cool.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
87
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The main issue is that you haven't designed a swale but a ditch! A swale is always on contour.

If you can direct the water to the mini FF (above the red bud?) then put swales in there to stop the water and let it soak in. You might consider a very small pond (3') and have a spillway to a swale that goes through the FF a la geoff lawton.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 743
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Cj, I'm confused by your post. Wouldn't you direct the water to the tree by using a ditch, or a dry creek bed as the previous poster called it. They are interchangeable as to what to call it.

He's moving water from point "a" the gutter to point "b" the trees.

Past that, yes, I agree it needs a method to soak in. I'm not sure he didn't draw in a swale (blue crescent) by each tree. If this is the case, the tree will be sitting in a swamp after the rain. Swale should be on uphill side of trees.
 
Jon La Foy
Posts: 97
Location: Hopkinsville, KY (Western KY) Zone 7
2
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In research I have found that there are two types of swales: those used in permaculture that is constructed on contour designed to retain water/moister, and those used in gardens that are designed for looks and usually direct water (like a creek). So I think the bigger question is "Which swale are you talking about?"

Countour.png
[Thumbnail for Countour.png]
On Contour
Garden.jpg
[Thumbnail for Garden.jpg]
As a Garden
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3734
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Right, permaculture definitions aren't always the same as normal usage. You can direct water thru a ditch but not thru a swale because the water isn't supposed to move in a swale but soak in. Actually, the way to direct water towards trees a la permaculture is a "net and pan" system:
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6778
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Here's what we've learned...

A ditch --- is a long, skinny hollow in the earth meant to collect and channel water in a given direction. This could lead to a river, pond, French drain or other storage or disposal area. Incoming water may be from a single source, such as roof runoff or from many sources which might also include surface runoff from soil or a parking lot. Usually, ditches are meant to channel water to a destination and any absorption into the underlying soil is incidental and not always desirable.

Ditches may also be used to impede the progress of an advancing enemy and there can be other non hydrological uses for a ditch.

A swale --- is a long, skinny hollow in the earth meant to collect and absorb surface water. It is built on contour, meaning that it is very level. The goal is to capture and absorb runoff in order to maximize retention of precipitation. This may prevent erosion, recharge the water table and contribute to the formation of springs at a lower elevation. A swale may have a dead end, which prevents water from escaping. It could have an overflow, which pours into a ditch.

Swales often have quite smooth edges and most would not seriously impede the progress of an advancing enemy.

 
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