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pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Rene Nijstad wrote:
The main important thing is to never build anything other than gabions in the areas where the waterflow is concentrated


We're actually trying some brush dams to see what happens. We've built these as far up the channels as possible so they have the largest chance of hanging up on trees instead of going downstream.

http://www.permies.com/t/51421/earthworks/Creek-repair-brush-dams

I
 
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Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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I looked at the brushdam topic. I think during lighter rain events they might be of help. Hopefully they get anchored by sufficient sediment build up before you get a serious flood, because the amount of water that has to pass through probably washes them away.

You could try more brushdams in smaller creeks that don't have that much flow, their advantage is that they're still pretty open, so water can get through. It just traps more and more debris over time and when there's enough, soil will build up behind it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you. Do you have any suggestions about where specifically we could put swales if we happened to get a windfall of $?

Otherwise I will be building a gazillion small brush and rock berms.
 
Rene Nijstad
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Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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You're welcome Tyler, I hope it's all helpful.

I cannot really point to locations for swales because I would need a very detailed contour map to even start guessing. But observation which you can do yourself might give the answer.

Most water volume will concentrate in gullies and creek beds, those you can see in the landscape. With periodic flooding coming out of a catchment area of 100 acres or more, you cannot block those gullies with a swale, no matter how big you would make it. It's just too much water. But you could look at the spaces between the gullies which will have more of a sheetflow of water. Maybe swales could be installed there? To be sure you do need sufficiently big overflows, so that excess water can flow away.
 
Rene Nijstad
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Location: La Mesa, Cundinamarca, Colombia
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Another thought, if the water brings too much sediment a swale might not be the best answer anyway, because it will fill up. If that is the case brushdams, rockdams everywhere and gabions in the gullies will be much more helpful. They will create a more terraced landscape and actually help build soil back up instead of eroding it away.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you!
 
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Hello, recently purchased 13 acres and I'm looking to install some contour swales on hillside. This property is fully wooded with pine and hardwood. My dilemma is after I clear this hillside, what to do with the stumps/roots?.... If I leave them to rot, I assume they will leave uneven holes and maybe even compromise my berms. If I remove the stumps, how will this affect my contour lines. Thank you so much for any suggestions! This is my first post! Love this forum thanks!
 
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Brad Huston wrote:Hello, recently purchased 13 acres and I'm looking to install some contour swales on hillside. This property is fully wooded with pine and hardwood. My dilemma is after I clear this hillside, what to do with the stumps/roots?

First.... don't. If it's an actual hillside and not just a gentle slope on relatively flattish ground, do not clear it. Clear a swath for your swale, get the trees going in that, then do the same for the next swale after that, leaving a fair amount of woodland between. Trees hold hillsides together, and the baby trees put into a swale won't cut it at first. You need to keep your forest to avoid heavy erosion or worse.

I'll leave the meat of your question to others more experienced in swale construction.
 
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How about in a wet climate? Anybody here on permies building a forest and ponds system in any kind of climate?


Looks like you're starting to get some feedback already but will chime in, too. Would have sooner but, well, it's planting season here

I'm doing a ponds and forests type of system, though a big part of what I'm doing here is trying to actually "dry out" our topsoils in many areas. See, we have a lot of heavy clay with little topsoil (eroded badly due to poor logging practices) so generally, if we dig a hole, it fills with water and that water doesn't drain...just evaporates slowly. A lot of slash from the logging on this property is sitting just under the surface, pretty much as "fresh" as the day it was cut, due to the anaerobic conditions. Some of it was buried by erosion while much was purposely buried in to keep the skidders from sinking in the mud. The landscape is overall WAY over hydrated, causing the ecosystem to go into a sort of protective, repairative "swamp" mode. Even our red maples, which are supposed to be tolerant of seasonal flooding, are rotting out and falling over in many areas!

Our soil profile in most areas I've worked so far looks roughly like this: highly organic topsoil on top, generally less than 1" thick and usually saturated, followed by nearly pure blue/gray clay between 2" and 4" thick, followed by a layer of organic topsoil buried by the last logging event anywhere between 1" and 3" thick, often barely damp, followed by a layer of brown/red clay that's usually dry and upwards of 4" thick, followed by ANOTHER layer of organic topsoil, this one upwards of 6" thick and usually bone dry, which I figure was buried by erosion from the logging event between 30 and 50 years ago, followed finally by more brown/red clay going down as far as I've made it so far (about 4.5ft).

Our goals are to 1) increase evaporation over the short term, using relatively shallow ponds with a larger surface area, to allow for more biological activity in the soil and 2) increase deep infiltration of water so it's not just sitting on the surface, making for mosquito/deerfly breeding grounds

See my project thread if you haven't already for an overview of our plans and some of the work that's been done so far ("The Camp" in my signature). The specifics are, of course, always up in the air, depending on the boots-on-the-ground conditions, but I had laid out a lot of the general patterning before we ever stuck a shovel in the ground...before we even bought the property! Even though our goals are slightly different than yours will be (draining/drying overly wet soils vs wetting/hydrating overly dry soils), most of the same methodology will apply. Water is funny that way - whether dealing with overly dry conditions or overly wet conditions, most of the techniques are very similar.

If others in your area are able to hold water in their ponds, you almost certainly will have success as well. You mentioned a high clay content in your soil, which is a big plus. Two things to keep in mind, though, is 1) you will definitely need to seal your pond, even if you're interested in deep infiltration and 2) provide A LOT of surface shading and protection to prevent high water temperature and evaporation.

For the shading, water hyacinth, duckweed, azolla fern, water lilies, lotus, etc will go a long way toward keeping the water temperature down and reducing the evaporation. If they've overtaking your pond, just skim it to clear 50-75% of the cover and compost it all - think of it as a compostable material production system Large, dense deciduous trees casting shade over the pond will help hugely as well - oaks, pines, etc. Maybe use the trick from old China and plant a mulberry hanging over the pond from the south to cast a dense shadow and provide fruit drop to/draw insects for fish production

The biggest issues will be direct sun and hot, dry winds, so planting a dense windbreak around the pond to help keep the winds from whipping over the surface will help as well.

On sealing a pond, geoff lawton's trick of using ducks really does work. We have several small ponds already dug and when we get droughty (usually august/september) the one the our muscovy ducks use the most NEVER dries out, even when the others are completely bone-dry. Two other things you can look at are bentonite clay (they use it in the oil industry and it should be available if you call around) and organic matter. That dense deciduous trees shading the ponds will have a lot of leaf drop - ponds are notorious leaf traps and will accumulate literally tons of leaves each season. All that organic matter lining the bottom will form a living film of bacteria and microbes that helps seal the pond as well. Between ducks and enough leaf drop, you could probably seal a pond built on pure sand.

Remember, too, that when you change the hydrology of a site, it does take time for the water to catch up to the changes. Expect it to take a few years for things to even out
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Tristan!
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm being encouraged enough by the idea of ducks sealing a pond to rethink the possibility of a small pond, but changing the location to further down slope for more opportunity to collect water:
drainagefeatures2.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Here's a photo of the north basin full of water. This may stay for only a day or two before soaking in:

basin.jpg
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Brad Huston
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Brad Huston wrote:Hello, recently purchased 13 acres and I'm looking to install some contour swales on hillside. This property is fully wooded with pine and hardwood. My dilemma is after I clear this hillside, what to do with the stumps/roots?

First.... don't. If it's an actual hillside and not just a gentle slope on relatively flattish ground, do not clear it. Clear a swath for your swale, get the trees going in that, then do the same for the next swale after that, leaving a fair amount of woodland between. Trees hold hillsides together, and the baby trees put into a swale won't cut it at first. You need to keep your forest to avoid heavy erosion or worse.

I'll leave the meat of your question to others more experienced in swale clancastersn.


Thank u.... I plan on starting at the top of hillside and working down slowly over time.....thanks for the advice!.....sorry if I butted in on someone else's topic, still learning to use this site....any advise on the stump situation? I plan to follow brad lancasters formula for swale construction....thanks Kurt Ryder!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I would just leave the stumps in place and work around them. We have a lot of trees so we've been using basins instead of swales. I'm also making brush berms where some people might use swales: http://www.permies.com/t/56013/earthworks/Brush-berms
 
Brad Huston
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Personally I would just leave the stumps in place and work around them. We have a lot of trees so we've been using basins instead of swales. I'm also making brush berms where some people might use swales: http://www.permies.com/t/56013/earthworks/Brush-berms


Thanks for the response Tyler, much appreciated!....i will definitely check out that link....thanks!
 
garden master
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Tyler Ludens wrote:How about in a wet climate? Anybody here on permies building a forest and ponds system in any kind of climate?

A small forest and ponds design: http://geofflawton.com/videos/5-acre-abundance-on-a-budget/


I can't say I built it, or that it's really made correctly, but we do have a pond on our property that was dug by the previous land owner. He used and excavator, and I think might have thrown some concrete down there? Knowing him, though, it's not in anyway sealed, as he couldn't do anything right construction-wise. But, the pond does stay wet all year round. It's probably somewhere around 1000sqft in size and the depth ranges from (at it's fullest) 8 feet deep to four feet deep. During last year's "drought" (a drought for us is nothing like a drought for the rest of the US) and record hottest summer, the pond got down to about 2-4 feet deep, which is a bit shallow for many fish, but fine for ducks.

The pond is fed by a ditch he dug, that's probably 3-4 feet deep and 1-2 feet wide, with no curves, and I don't quite know/remember how many feet it goes. I also have no pictures of it. We also have a tiny, natural stream (2 feet wide at it's widest, and only 2 feet deep during a rainstorm) that flows from about September/October-May, depending on the weather. Pretty much, we're so soggy that the ground water is high enough that if you dig down 3-4 feet, you make a puddle. During our big rains (nothing like your big rains. We might get maybe 3 inches of rain on ), our little stream barely overflowed, but the pond filled up fast.

I don't know if any of that info helps you, but I would think that by making it deeper and closer to your water table, you're more likely to maintain a pond. Also with a deeper pond you could retain more water with less evaporation than a shallow pond. Shading it with trees would help with evaporation, but the trees and plants will also suck up the water from the pond by their roots. So, it really matter more on if you want the water there all year for ducks, etc, or if you want the water to help with your plants.

Here's an old mock up of our property. The stream and pond are on the right. The weird blue water line south of the pond is the ditch that feeds the pond. The pond flows into the stream, and there doesn't seem to be overflowing where it flows into the stream.

Here's some pictures of our pond and stream. I have no idea if this will help at all, as our climate and weather are so different. But, if nothing else, it's a case study!


100_0291.JPG
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Really bad picture, but the best I had at 11:00pm, and it does show size and scale...sort of
IMGP8354.JPG
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Stream size (sorry I have no pictures of the non-permaculturally made ditch)
101_7430.JPG
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Another angle of pond. Cat is for scale :).
 
Tyler Ludens
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Thank you, Nicole!
 
Tyler Ludens
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During wet periods I can pretend our big basin is a pond!

topbasinmay182016.jpg
[Thumbnail for topbasinmay182016.jpg]
 
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