Category: Swales

Theory In Practice : A Tour of Zaytuna Farm

Take a sweeping 20-minute tour of our 66-acre Zaytuna Farm property. Throughout, I explain specific features of the farm, how these things came together, and why the farm was designed as you see it. If some terms aren’t familiar, we have included a detailed explanation below and to learn, even more, check out my Permaculture Masterclass series, HERE  Zaytuna Farm went into development in 2001 with earthworks for the mainframe […]

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Leaky Weirs

I cant swim, but I’ve been fascinated by water all my life and have learnt water harvesting and storage design and installation from some of the permaculture greats bio here. I mentioned in a recent article the details about the construction of a series of ponds forming a wetland in Western Australia. At that same project, I had the opportunity of doing some work on a seasonal creek where I advised the […]

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Texas Food Forest and the Results of Good Design.

Five years ago we moved to our current property in North Texas.  While the general area is not particularly challenging, the property itself was.  The three acre property has anywhere from 11 inches (28cm) to as little as 3 inches (7.6cm) of soil, sitting atop a limestone slab.  Note: not rocks but solid slab. An insane place to build a permaculture property but we set to making it happen. In our […]

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Storing Water in the Landscape: A Swales and Ponds Primer

Rain is one of the leading causes of soil erosion. The problem isn’t with rain itself, but rather with bad land management practices and farming practices that aren’t designed to take advantage of rainfall in a holistic manner. The best place to store water is in the landscape itself, and through the process of design, water can be effectively stored in the landscape for increased fertility, longer growing season, and […]

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The Transition from Swales to On Contour Hedges

One of permaculture´s most famed and acknowledged contributions to sustainable land management and ecologically sound agricultural practices are swales. From Australia to Finland to South Africa, thousands of permaculture practitioners from around the world have taken their laser levels, A-frame levels, and Bunyip water levels to map out the contour lines across the landscape that holds them. Once stakes have been placed across the contour lines across the land, either […]

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Why We Use Swales and How to Do It Appropriately

A swale is one of those permaculture terms that probably gets thrown around to readily (or inaccurately) and perhaps implemented irresponsibly. Only a few years into my permaculture career, I have certainly been guilty of this, and I have distinct memories of mistakes I made with regards to both attempting to construct swales and putting them in the wrong place. In my defense, and perhaps to my own credit, I […]

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Hugel Swales May be a Bad Idea

Ok, so this conversation has been addressed in the correct way and was explained by Jack Spirko at http://permastaging.wpengine.com/2015/11/06/dont-try-building-hugel-swales-this-is-a-very-and-i-mean-very-bad-idea/. This very bad idea, Hugel-swales on contour, should not be done!!!!! We can however accomplish the morph on small scale as explained by Jack Spirko, but not in the true “this is how to build a swale” and “this is how to build a Hugel.” Again, do not do what I […]

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Urban Swales

Last year, we did a series of videos looking at the swale systems on our property and demonstration site. Part one looks at how we’ve combined the featuress of a Hügelkultur system, a wicking bed, and swales to nourish a productive garden that requires very little additional irrigation: Urban Swales Part 1: Weeping Tile & Mulched Pathways This second video in the urban swales series looks at permaculture design with […]

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Morocco Project Update

The earthworks have progressed nicely and below is a series of photos of when we were installing the earthworks and after the first decent rains of the season. Keeping in mind the site receives 250mm of rain per year and like a lot of dry-lands come’s in about 3 events in mid-winter.

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Bunyip Water Level: Measure Contour Lines & Swales

To have professional surveyors map our contour lines was going to cost thousands of dollars and many we spoke to outright refused because of the number of trees and acreage. The estimates we did receive were not frequent in elevational increments – one even came in at “every 60 feet!” So we ended up hiring a company only for marking our property boundaries. To map the inner swales and contour […]

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Mini Swales in an Urban Backyard

The term “swale” is often used by Permaculture people when designing large earth work constructions but it’s very rarely spoken of in an urban setting. Swales are most often discussed among permaculture people when designing large earthwork constructions – not something you would find in most people’s backyards. However, these techniques can be used just as effectively in an urban setting to keep your garden plants alive throughout the hot […]

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Found-Object Garden Design at The Farm Inn in Southern Belize

Something that has thoroughly impressed Kevin during our six weeks at The Farm Inn in the southern depths of Belize, where a paved highway has only just made it, is that we are only using things that are already on the property. When I hear him excitedly describe his concept of permaculture—what we, my wife Emma and I, are doing—to people, he always mentions this fact. Over the last few […]

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