The Amazing Swale

Last week, 2 inches of rain fell in a matter of 4 hours. The next day, it rained another inch or so. Ray went out to check our swales

…and was amazed.

Every inch of both swales was holding water and the spillways were working as they should.


To provide a better frame of reference for the photos below, Ray walked the swale using an android app called Maverick.

Swale outline

Blue lines indicate the north and south swales. Trees are planted throughout.


S side of S swale


North swale


South swale


SE side of S swale


SE side of S swale


NE side of N swale


NW side of N swale


N swale


Here we were supposed to put another spillway in, but I kind of like the “clean” edge.


NW side of N swale

There are a few areas we need to adjust. We need to dig out the spillway on the north side a bit more. It worked as it should have, but needs to be just a little deeper and wider.

This is the only place we had standing water outside the swale. Ray told me that the yard was a bit soggy, but we did not have a moat or any standing water in the yard.

IMG_20140608_115529_785 IMG_20140608_115524_458

When I walked through it yesterday morning, I could not wipe the smile off of my face. All of that water that the swales were holding, feeding all of the trees we planted, could have been in our yard…a moat around our house.

Instead, we put systems in to harvest and use the rainwater for our perennial plants and to minimize erosion as much as possible. We are doing our best to repair the landscape and soil. We are growing a food forest that our boys will benefit from in the future and that we will all enjoy in the present.

Walking in the swale
Memories joyfully made
Playing in the mud

13 responses to “The Amazing Swale

  1. What is the width and depth of that swale there is little there to show scale. I am guessing about 6-8 foot wide?

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  3. Looks Great

  4. Wow looks so awesome! I’ve been planning on hand digging a small swale at my new yard just to try it out, this really inspires me to do it and just to get it in while we have some rain here where we are.

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