These trees are at my neighbor's house. We have free access to them. I pruned them early this spring and all but one have now leafed out better than last year. That one hasn't shown any signs of leaving dormancy. My neighbor irrigates them periodically in the warmest weather but we're both on wells so I've offered to do the labor for passive water collection beginning next fall. What's best bet: cup swales, terracing carefully around the trees, other options? He knows nothing of permaculture and I'm a beginner at putting things into practice. I will probably be taking a load of used goat bedding and straw or wood chips up for mulching and fertilizing. Anything else?
It's hard to tell from photos, but it looks like those trees are on a slight slope. I would want to avoid disturbing established roots by digging out new swales. However, it is possible to get the effect of small swales by building a low berms upslope of the the trees. Even lines of rocks laid on the contours of the ground can help with this.