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Can I fill my swales with wood chips?  RSS feed

 
Craig Pettersson
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Location: Gregory, Michigan
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I started installing my keyline swale. Can I fill it with wood chips? Thoughts please. Thank you in advance.
1st Swale.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1st Swale.jpg]
1st Swale raked.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1st Swale raked.jpg]
 
Zach Muller
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Why do you want to fill it with chips? Sometimes chips can float and get carried away, but i bet you could. There was a thread a while back about anaerobic conditions forming under the chips and creating a nasty stink, so thats something to consider as well. Id probably save the chips to cover the berm.
 
Craig Pettersson
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Location: Gregory, Michigan
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Zach Muller wrote:Why do you want to fill it with chips? Sometimes chips can float and get carried away, but i bet you could. There was a thread a while back about anaerobic conditions forming under the chips and creating a nasty stink, so thats something to consider as well. Id probably save the chips to cover the berm.
I don't care if it smells. If it does, it should only last for a short time. The reason I would like to fill the swale is so I don't have such a deep ditch on the landscape. Thinking the water will flow right through the chips and the chips will hold water like a giant sponge or water battery.
 
Blake Wheeler
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Personally I just see them floating away.

With that said, the purpose of swales is of course to hold water long enough for it to infiltrate the soil. Obviously putting anything in it cuts down on the overall volume of water the swale can hold at one time. Seems to me you're limiting the capacity they at which they can perform. If you don't get enough rainfall that will ever be a problem then it's fine. You could also argue in that case you didn't need swales that large in the first place then. I don't have experience with them, but those are just my first thoughts.

If you want it solely for aesthetics that's cool. I just don't see it increasing the effectiveness of what they're intended to do. Take this with a grain of salt however.
 
mark andrews
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If you live in a dry area that doesn't get much rain and if you want to get the ground covered so noxious weeds aren't as likely to grow, then an 8 inch layer in your swale would seem to be fine.
If you get a lot of rain, I imagine that your grass will spread quickly and fill in the swale and you won't get much benefit out of the wood chips. They will take a bit of effort to spread.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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my friend matt puts wood chips in his swales but it's for much much smaller scale projects - they make the swale ditches into nice walk paths through your site. i'll send him a link to this thread and see what he thinks about doing it for larger scale stuff.
 
Matt Powers
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I <3 my wood chip swale paths & swear by them.

They are an opportunity to stack functions: inoculate the wood chips as you put them in with soaked layers of cardboard or paper with the substrate between them & then the woodchips on top. I put edible fungi in places, so I don't miss them: they're already in the path!

This looks great! Keep going! Swales rule!

MP
 
Matt Powers
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Ok perhaps I should add that when you inoculate the wood it hold WAY MORE water & then actually creates water as it inoculates the mass. I don't think grasses with grow as easily through it if it is inoculated.
 
Craig Pettersson
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Location: Gregory, Michigan
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Matt Powers wrote:Ok perhaps I should add that when you inoculate the wood it hold WAY MORE water & then actually creates water as it inoculates the mass. I don't think grasses with grow as easily through it if it is inoculated.
Where do I get the spores?
 
Matt Powers
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I use http://www.fieldforest.net/ for my Oysters & Shiitakes.
I use http://mushroommountain.com/ for King Stropharia.
I use http://www.fungi.com/ for anything else

MP
 
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