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Nathan Dow
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North Carolina, United States
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Warm Temperate
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Swales in the Suburban Backyard Garden

Posted by Nathan Dow about 9 years ago

It has been unusually dry this Spring, leaving me at the mercy of our city's water supply.  Although I try not to use our tap water for the garden, many of my plants have been looking somewhat unhappy with the lack of rain.  So I begrudgingly pull our water hose over to my garden every now and again, just to keep them producing optimally.  This is probably the first year since I've been gardening in this area that NOT having enough water is a problem.  Usually it seems we have far too much!

Having clean water at my disposal at all times is something I usually take for granted, but moments when I'm aiming the hose nozzle at my plants really make appreciate how convenient living in a modern society can be.  It is far too easy for me to waste resources, simply because I have the capability to do so.  I don't like to waste resources if I can help it, however, so I naturally began to research ways to make my garden more efficient with water.

I had been reading about swales for ages it seems, but this recent dry spell is what finally gave me the push to implement them into my own garden.  I was a bit hesistant at first, but the worst it could do was make my garden a little uglier, so I thought I'd give it a shot.  I dug them out and we have finally had a bit of rain.  The swales seem to be working effectively, even on this small of a scale.  I have yet to witness it slowing and capturing water during a half-week's worth of rain storms... very common during the colder months.

Still, I am glad that I dug these swales out.  The plants closest to the swales seem extremely happy.  I am also pleased to help recharge the ground water supplies, even if only a small amount.  And I haven't had to use tap water to soak the garden out of necessity (although I admit that we both use graywater from sink and tub to water our plants as well).  If I was a millionaire, I would probably fill them with some gravel, but alas, I am poor permaculturist.

Anyway, I made a short (3 minutes) video talking about swales and showing the ones I dug in my small backyard garden.  I've seen a few better examples of swales in suburban gardens than my own, but I wanted to add more evidence that they work... even on a small scale.

As always, you can see all of the permaculture projects I have going on at The Dow Dominion .  Thanks for watching!
You can read the update to this video by clicking here!

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Yangtao Wei
Yangtao Wei : Your garden is great~! Small and smart!:)
Posted about 9 years ago

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