22 Comments

  1. great post Darren, I was very impressed with your swale when I seen it, it’s fantastic that you came up with plan to keep the water out of your shed. It was suggested to me the other day of building a swale on the high side of my newly planned garden bed in the front yard, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want it there. His heart was in the right place though. Very informative reading, thanks!

    • @Nellymary: Thanks! I had a builder mate over on the weekend, and he was surprised that I had dug that swale by hand. It really didn’t take that long, though – you don’t have to hire an excavator for every ditch you dig!

  2. Nice looking swale. 🙂

    I find that Aussies are generally quite surprised when a shovel is used to dig any more than a small hole. It really does not take that much effort and for the bigger ones, it should save the cost of a gym membership.

    I would not recommend the mango on the swale. Mangos are pretty tough and do not need that sort of location. I would recommend the mango somewhere that the soil is not as good and there is not as much moisture. While they are gross feeder when young, once established, they do not need much to get great fruit production.

    A small leaf Jaboticaba would be an excellent replacement for the mango. It loves moisture, but is also a tough plant.

    • @Jason: I’ve got a small jaboticaba in another part of the garden – perhaps I should swap the two trees around. Figuring out where to put trees is one of the hardest parts of property design! I think I tend to go about it the wrong way around: I buy trees I like, and then try to figure out where to put them. I should be looking at the yard and figuring out what type of tree would go well in a particular spot, and THEN buying the trees for specific spots.

      I agree with you on the digging – it does’t really take that much time, and you can split it over a few weekends. When I was widening/deepening this one, I just did about 5-10 minutes of digging each morning after feeding the animals. It only took 2 or 3 weeks to finish off, with no sore back or blisters to show for it.

  3. Hi Darren, thanks for the explanation, I have read about swales, but nothing this practical! We have a sloping block, so I’m now thinking where to put a swale…..

    • @farmer_liz: No worries! I was a bit concerned that it was a bit of a thought-dump, just talking points roughly organised, but I didn’t have time to write it up properly so I posted it anyway. I think it actually works, though – the facts don’t get lost in long-winded discussion and embellishment :-). The above represents the info I gleaned from more than a dozen hours of reading books, web sites, watching videos, etc.

  4. I learnt about swales when I did my permaculture course about 20 years ago, but had forgotten about them. They would have been very handy for holding what little water we had during the drought. Thanks for the reminder. I have just post a link to the article on my facebook page

  5. Wow, I love the idea of a swale, like most of the permaculture it makes so much sense. We’re on a nice sloping hill and this would fit perfectly into the design as an addition to the veggie garden and orchard and keep the water where we need it most. Thanks for posting!

  6. Neylan

    I have just been helping produce some instructional videos for Alice Water Smart in Alice Springs and we have shot one about water saving garden design. We shot this at the local community garden, and would love to include one of your illustrations of a swale to help explain what a swale is. Please email me back if you are happy for this to be included in the video to help educate people about swales and water smart garden design. We could probably put a link to your site on the website which is under development. Thanks!

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