Jun 23, 2006

From Grassy hill to Swales and Berms

This hill faces West Northwest and was letting all the rain and snow water run off across the driveway. The hard packed soil and 20 year old grass barrier let little moisture underneath. Initial stakes can bee seen where we were estimating the position of swales and planted berms.

The total dimensions of the orchard was to be 50 feet by 150 feet. with a strip of annual garden along the driveway. This made room for three berms and swales.

On June 22nd the 20 ton Excavator arrived. We quickly educated the operator on the principles of the swale and berm system and the importance of level swales (Ditches to him). Using a laser level we had staked out the hill for positioning his "cuts"and then used it again for monitoring the swale base. The excavator seemed over sized but the bucket was just right. 16 inches of top soil covering a solid clay base would have made for a long day with anything less.

Next time I would remove all the grass and compost of pile it up somewhere for later.

Its a real pain to deal with and unless its totally dead it comes back in the worst places.

Here I am standing with the laser level.
The swales are dug with a level base and the top soil is piled for the berms. Most level contour swales curve wildly on the side of a hill, but our's was previously graded twenty years earlier, so it is straight. The orchard was staked out with the level as a guide so the top edge of the swale follows the hill contour . Then the base of the swale is leveled also as it is dug out.

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Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design

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