I'm working on a big project - building brush berms along contours to slow runoff. I plan to do this all over our 20 acres except where water moves too swiftly for these to be effective. I hope they'll act like mini-swales to rehydrate the land.
Here's about 80 feet of berm to slow runoff from the neighbors' critter paddocks:
Thanks! The few logs I have are from some previous clearing, but most of the material is either deadfall or stuff I can cut with a handsaw. This would go a lot faster with a chainsaw but the chainsaw guy (husband) is busy bringing home the bacon these days - I'm on my own with this project.
I'm thinking it might be a good idea for me to cut some sharp stakes and stake down through the brush, at least in places where it looks like the runoff might pick up some speed....
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins
I do something a bit similar. I've built brush piles below my avocado and fig trees that are planted on the steep hillside behind our place. The hill is quite steep, so my thinking is that any leaves and other organic material that falls from these trees will catch on those piles and contribute to soil health.
Additionally, it is a south-facing hill that gets full sun, so the sun just beats on the down-hill side of those trees. By building a brush pile below each of my trees (on the south side of them), it stops the sun from irradiating the soil, drying it out, and killing all the soil life. The soil is beautiful underneath those piles. The brush piles are anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall. Some of them are 5 years old now, and I have to continually add new branches and additional organic matter to the top of them, as everything is slowly breaking down. I would imagine that they contribute significantly to the fungal network beneath the trees.
That would seem to me to be one of the most significant benefits of your brush berm: that you'll really feed the fungi all along the length of your pile.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf
Nice we did the same! We bought our property after it was logged and all the slash was left everywhere. We spent several days with the chainsaw in certain and laid the slash as contour brush berms to control the erosion. We planted useful tree saplings on either side of the berms and groundcover in between. The wild muscadines like growing on the brush since the trees are gone (poison ivy too). The plan for this area is minimal management so we call it the "wild orchard" as opposed to the area where we have put in actual swales and earthworks.