Why Use a Swale & How to Build Correctly

permaculture swale digging

Stumbled upon a great article by Permaculture News on swales.

Key Highlights on Swales:

  • Swales are often used with ponds, dams, grey water systems, rainwater harvesting, and other water catchments.
  • The goal is to pacify water that would otherwise create issues like erosion.  Helping to capture silt, organic matter and nutrients. Preventing runoff.
  • Once pacified we want to spread the water out over the landscape.
  • Water should not be the only focus in swales.  Trees are an important part.  Swales should be viewed as a tree growing system. Trees are an important part of the water cycle.  Leaf-fall helps retain moisture and the ground to suck up water.
  • Over time swales help recharge groundwater and help the land become drought-resistant
  • Start small when experimenting with swales and learn the fundamentals before moving on to larger projects
  • Swales should not be used on hills with a fifteen-degree slope or greater due to possible slides

Video Showing the Swale Plume:

See a real life swale example by one of permacultures leaders Geof Lawton:


Read the full article by Permaculture News: http://permaculturenews.org/2017/03/31/use-swales-appropriately/

Photo by: Brian Boucheron

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