Category: Swales

Swales in North Texas Take on 2.5 inches of Rain and Perform Perfectly


In this video, Jack Spirko, shows just how effective good Permaculture Earthworks are in capturing 26,000 Gallons of water from a “barn burner of a storm”. This morning we got 3 hours of pouring rain. Then this afternoon we got hit with close to an inch in less than 30 minutes, and it totally filled the swales and overflowed them all. To drive home how passive this water system is, […]

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Grey Water and Silt Pond Project – Parts 1 and 2

Part One Phil Williams of takes you through a two-part video of him installing a grey water and silt pond project he has. He explains some of the issues and he talks through resolutions to making it work. Phil was a conventional landscape contractor and designer for twelve years. He learned quite a bit about how to run equipment and how to manage a job, but the lack of sustainability […]

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Contour Beds Peru

The ancient Inca also utilised contour patterning in their agriculture. This article will describe the process we took to create kitchen garden contour beds in the Sacred Valley Peru. Contour beds are annual and/or perennial vegetable garden beds that conform to the natural pattern of the landscape. Being on contour means that the paths and beds themselves are level and follow the lay of the land. Not only does this […]

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Drought-Proofing California…not in the news

Digging our well-surveyed swales. I woke up this morning, put on my gum-boots and went out for a walk around our family farm in the rain. This in itself might not seem to be anything special to many folks, yet this was a 2”/5cm rainfall after several intense years of drought here in Southern California. I cannot express how exciting this morning has been for me as I was thinking […]

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It All Started with Geese

5 Tufted Romans, 6 American Buffs and one mixed breed when they were about a week old. It all started with the geese. That’s not to say that they were fault, just that their habits started me on a new line of thinking. The geese were a gift to myself for my birthday one year. I don’t usually do that but I wanted them and it made a good excuse. […]

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Hey! It’s High Cold Dry and Windy and Doing just Great!

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Every now and then you come across climate that is not so user-friendly. It’s in the High, Dry and Cold and Windy desert environment of Nevada’s high country near Reno. A place with many challenges. Sagebrush and horse trails dot the landscape. It is cowboy country. So what on earth is a Permaculture teacher doing in such a windswept environment? Neil Bertrando lives here and in three years has used […]

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Bulldozer Digging Swales

Bulldozer Digging Swales from Midwest Permaculture. The Design We had been invited by a family in Southern Missouri to assist with the design of a 320-acre farm. They want to transition the land into a Permaculture landscape capable of producing a wide range of perennial foods (nuts, vegetables, herbs, fruit, etc.) as well as livestock (beef and goats). Over generations, rain has slowly degraded this sloping landscape with a loss […]

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Swales (Continuous Contour Trenches) Bring Water and Life Back to Maharashtra, India

This (unfortunately low-res) video shares the clear, practical benefits of bringing sensible low-tech Permaculture water harvesting techniques such as swales to our landscapes. In Maharashtra, India, swales are restoring the hydrological cycle, bringing dried up wells and springs back to life, and stopping erosion of the precious soils that subsistence farmers depend on.

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Experimenting with Overflowing Circles and Slow-Flow Swales (Panama)

The jungle garden I am not Bill Mollison or Geoff Lawton, they will both happily report; rather, I am but a humble novice when it comes to permaculture, experimenting my way through ideas, mimicking when I can, improvising when research falls short. And, it was somewhere in between mimicry and improvisation that I came up with what I’m calling overflowing circles and slow-flow swales. I wanted to catch water, of […]

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Earthworks Course Introduction with Geoff Lawton (video)

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If you’re considering doing Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Design Certificate Course later this month and want to know more, check out the Bonus $1200 Earthworks course we are including for free. It’s a mixture of classroom and field lectures that will bring you up to speed and teach you how to build dams, ponds, swales, water features, spillways and house sites using excavators.

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Swale Pathways (Tasmania, Australia)

by Good Life Permaculture Diagram of a traditional swale system Hobart is Australia’s second driest capital city (Adelaide’s first) so catching and storing water is often on my mind. Annually we get approximately 615mm, most of which arrives in the cooler months in and around Winter. During Summer our soils will dry out so ferociously that some soil types (including ours) will form cracks big enough to stick your hand […]

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Making Swales with a Tractor and Loader

by Dale Bunger Just a quick update to show how I have been making swales with a small Kubota and front end loader. First I start by laying out the path of the swale with my trusty A-frame level. I built this A-frame so the legs would be 5′ apart and I stick in a flag every time I move it across the ground. This allows me to easily measure […]

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