11 January 2014

My new forest sprung a leak

I'm so pleased with the expansion of the food forest, but with the first rain came the first problem.  We'd taken so much grass away, which was great, but it left loose soil along the swale and especially where one swale drops into the one below, not so great.  So there was only one thing to do - slow the water down through the little gully so I didn't lose all the soil and mulch with the next rain.

I had read a post on Milkwood's blog about Yuni Bowls (http://milkwood.net/2011/11/04/making-a-zuni-bowl-let-the-water-do-the-work/) and whilst it wasn't quite the solution I needed, it gave me the blueprint of what I had to do.

The problem was a steep gully where the one swale tapered off and turned downhill to allow the rain to be captured in the lower swale )you can see the swale curving to the right in this photo).  A large tree stump stopped us continuing the swale straight along contour and so this seemed to be the best solution.  But with the removal of all the grass and the first dumping of rain, the problem became clear.  So I went to the local landscaping store and hand picked some cast off standstone and voila
 Well perhaps not quite 'voila'.  Those rocks were heavy! And rather than just laying the rocks down the slope, I dug three small pools to slow and capture the water as it moves down the gully.  The idea is not to create ponds per se, but just to slow things down and avoid erosion.

 I filled in the gaps with some smaller stones as well as a bit of clay that I'd dug up.  Then along the edges, I've planted lomandra to hold the soil.  They are incredibly hardy and should grow to a good size.  I'll plant a few more at the bottom as well, now that its finished.
We had a big drench late yesterday and there didn't appear to be any new run off of mulch or soil.  So I'm pretty pleased with my new river bed.

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