Water Retention


Swales are essentially just drainage ditches, except that they’re dug on contour so they collect and hold water instead of diverting it.

Swales are an innovative landscaping solution, designed not just to manage water runoff but to harness it beneficially. Unlike traditional drainage ditches that divert water away from a property, swales are strategically dug along the natural contours of the land. This design allows them to capture, hold, and infiltrate runoff water into the ground, thereby recharging groundwater and irrigating the surrounding vegetation. Particularly effective in areas prone to drought or those seeking sustainable water management practices, swales can be applied in a variety of settings – from large-scale agricultural lands to suburban backyards.

While swales are a cornerstone of many permaculture designs, they are not universally applicable. In cases like ours, where the slope is particularly steep—around 16%—traditional swale implementation can be impractical. The gradient not only challenges the swale’s structural integrity but also its ability to effectively retain water without causing erosion. However, this limitation does not deter our commitment to sustainable water management. We’ve adapted by deeply considering the natural flow of water on our property, devising alternative strategies to capture, slow, and utilize runoff in a manner that complements our landscape’s unique contours and conditions.

Capturing and storing water is a pivotal strategy for achieving long-term sustainability and success in permaculture designs. This approach is especially crucial when integrated with perennial plantings, such as the food forest we are developing. By establishing a system that efficiently collects and conserves water, we ensure a consistent supply of moisture to support the growth of trees, shrubs, and other perennials throughout the seasons. This synergy between water management and perennial agriculture not only enhances the resilience and productivity of our food forest but also contributes to the creation of a self-sustaining ecosystem that thrives with minimal external input.

Other Stuff We’re Doing

Check out some other stuff we’ve been working on.

    Mimicking how a forest works, we aim to produce food using woody perennials and agroforestry principles. Functioning food forests have been discovered that are over 150 years old.

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