My First Earthworks

Once I caught on to permaculture it took very little time for me to put it into action. My first priority was to set up a few swales for the fruit trees I’d ordered. 

It took me several days to dig out all of the swales. Of course, it may have gone faster if I hadn’t been doing it with kids on my lap. They’d inevitably fall asleep and then I’d have dead weight and drool on my arm. I’d just dig until I couldn’t take the weight anymore. The kids loved watching me dig though. 

My swales are not exactly on contour. I eye balled it and then what happened in the tractor, happened. I wanted water to drain into the swales and away from the driveway. So far that has been successful, so these swales are perfect for our needs. 

There is a large amount of space between my swales. I have debated extensively on what I should do. More swales? Infiltration Basins? Free space? I finally decided on infiltration basins that will have trees planted into the bottom. I think with our wind blown environment that plantings done below ground level do the best. I actually tested planting bushes into 1′ deep holes. I documented that here.

 This is a pic of how far the first swale is from the house.


 So this is my busy little tractor with the back blade smoothing out the base of the swales.

This is a finished swale. Not the most even berm on the downhill side of it, but I’m happy! I worried about the electrical line coming through at that low spot so I did not dig as deep and I did not plant any trees near it.

Lovely little tractor in the swale. I didn’t have the foresight to get pics WHILE I was doing it. It was only when I was done that I thought to take pictures.

Now, this is not a swale. This is a mini retention basin. This is the lowest part of our property and I was hoping to keep some water and dirt on my property and not the farmers. So this was done on both sides of that fence (which is soon to be removed). I hoped it would also help with the road which is AWFUL at all the low spots. I must say I haven’t seen a difference in the road there yet. Unfortunate! I’m going to be working more on this basin I believe. I hope to turn it into a full blown pond. Permits will be needed for that and probably an excavator.

This is from the bottom of the retention basin. You can barely see the tractor at the top of the slope there. It’s steep here but the rest of the property is pretty flat.

All told I made 4 swales and 3 basins. One of the basins is ineffective and I’ll be filling it in this spring, but the rest were wonderful. I intend to dig many, many mini basins in the future to help catch blowing snow.



  1. //

    Looking good, hope it works!

  2. //

    Just wanted to say that I started caragana from seed and was surprised at how well it does.I just gathered seed from existing bushes when they started twisting and throwing seeds and then planted them in half-barrels in the green house the next year. When they get a foot or two in height then plant them.

  3. //

    I do hope to grow them from seed as well. I do not have a greenhouse yet though. That is a project for this year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.