Published on November 11th, 2011 | by Lynn Fang


Swales: Another Way to Harvest Rainwater


A swale is essentially a trench in the soil. On a hillside, a swale helps to catch the water that’s running down the slope, collecting it in the trench, and allowing the soil to absorb it.

Typically, the swale is located uphill of where you want the water to go. When the dirt is dug out of the trench, it’s piled up on the downhill side to act as a berm, or retaining wall, to help keep the water collected in the trench. You can even plant on the berm to help stabilize soil erosion even further. You can dig swales throughout the hillside to maximize your rainwater collection.

If you have young fruit trees, you can dig a small circular swale around the fruit tree to help retain more water.

You can leave the swale open, or fill it with mulch and organic matter. Filling it with leaves, branches, and rotting wood helps the decomposition process. Make sure to wet this material to encourage decomposition. Then cover it with wood chips or straw to help retain the moisture.

The best way to capture rainwater is in the soil!

[CC Image by (terriem) via Flickr]

Would you dig a swale?


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About the Author

is a compost consultant and educator, eco-conscious writer, and intuitive artist. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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