Swaling on Flatland : Help....

Discussion in 'Forum Info and Questions' started by Laurette Anderson, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Laurette Anderson

    Laurette Anderson New Member

    Aug 21, 2016
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    Northern Desert plus Coastal BC
    I'm planning the planting of nut and fruit trees this spring. I had envisioned a property with some slope but ended up with the flattest plot you can imagine. Under 2% slope from anywhere to anywhere. It is also considered borderline desert area. So water is an issue and collection and conservancy are important.
    I had planned on swales and berms but now I'm wondering - since it's flat does the direction of the swales matter? Does this free me up to design in any direction I want? Or is there another method I should use - digging circular swales around the trees perhaps to catch the winter precipitation ? Also, we're having more extreme weather and rainfalls and snows can be heavy though rare. The nearby river could flood as well - so managing floods is also a potential concern. There was also a brush fire on the hill off in the distance in the photo - put out quickly but I couldn't believe how fast it moved across the hill.
    Any thoughts from anyone? I'm concerned about keeping the trees alive, protecting them from the elements and getting them to establish without having to completely irrigate the site for years to come.

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  2. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

    Jul 10, 2006
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    E Washington, USA
    Semi-Arid Shrub Steppe (BsK)
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

    Sep 12, 2013
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    gardening, reading, etc
    near St. Charles, MI, USoA
    Home Page:
    -15C low, 35C high, 10cm rain/mo avg, clay, full sun
    if you are in an arid climate that means you do want to
    capture every bit of rainfall you can when it does happen.
    definitely would want some swales. you may want to see
    if you can find your peak storm potentials and plan for
    those if you can. your soil type will also help with the
    planning, because if it can soak in most of what does
    come down then the swales won't need to be that large
    in comparison to places that have tougher soils.

    it will just take some time to figure out the contour lines.

    i also have a pretty flat area, but i put in some catch basins
    and features to collect water. our area gets plenty of
    moisture most of the time - i need protection from flooding
    to keep the gardens from being washed away.

    just yesterday we had the first good test of my most recent
    earthwork. it had rained quite a bit for several days and then
    we had some wet snow and more rains come along. no flash
    flooding through the gardens and all went as it should have.
    not as big as an event as when we had before (30cm in 2
    days), but perhaps we had around half that over 5 days.

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