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Brush berms

 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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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:
brushberm.jpg
[Thumbnail for brushberm.jpg]
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Nice project there Tyler and a good looking brush berm to!

I have built one to slow fast moving water, I used larger log pieces and mimicked a beaver dam construction wise. It is working a treat now that litter is getting hung up in it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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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....
 
pollinator
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Nice, look forward to hearing how this works for you!

Stakes definitely sound wise to me.

If you're not into chainsawing but still want a power assist, you might find something like this to be a compromise: https://www.milwaukeetool.com/power-tools/cordless/2625-20
 
gardener
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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.
 
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Those berms are looking pretty good. My only recommendation is to take some of the long stuff on the ground and use as extra stakes.
 
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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.



 
edwin hugel
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One more with the dog and a little more growth:

 
Tyler Ludens
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That last photo is lovely!
 
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