We are in the process of putting in the orchard fencing on an acre on our new property (deer, elk, moose). It is on a south facing slope (12%) next to a pond berm where there is good protection from our prevailing winds and frost. We have the potential for 4-6 months of drought each year with very few rain events after April or May, so we wanted the orchard close to the pond for irrigation purposes and also to have a good head from our rain catchment tanks uphill. Also, we are digging a pond directly downhill from the orchard where two drainages come together. However, in drilling the post holes for the fence, we are finding that the lower 1/2 of the orchard has a real high water table, i.e. the holes filled up quickly with water, making it difficult to set the posts in. We have beautiful clay loam soil but digging past 3' is proving difficult- not sure if it is fragipan and the soil survey was vague. There are many ponderosa pines growing around the area
We are planning to dig swales and plant the berms with fruit/nut trees/shrubs but now I am concerned that whatever is planted in the lower half has the potential for wet feet. Sure, the berms will raise the plants slightly and this may not be an issue for shallower rooted plants, but larger trees may not be happy. Would it be worth building in some sort of spillway so we could drain the swales during the wet season? They could potentially be drained into the lower pond. How do we go about doing this?
Many thanks for any advice! This is our first swale project of this scope.