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Building Mini-Swales to Help Store Water

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The cheapest way to store water for your garden, is to store rain water in the soil. Swales are powerful tools that can help maximize the amount of water stored in garden area.

Simply put, swales are water-harvesting ditches. Most ditches are built on a slope, designed to move water away from an area. Swales do the opposite. Swales have flat bottoms allowing water to pool and infiltrate the surrounding land. The more water you can charge into your soil during the rainy season, the less water your garden will need in dry times.

This week’s video reviews the facts about California’s sources and uses of water, and shows how mini swales were constructed in order to capture rain water run off.

In a small gardens such as this example, mini-swales can be placed under pathways, then covered with mulch or other decorative elements such as stone. After digging the swales, the displaced soil can be used to build raised beds.

What was once a water-phobic grassy area, with a gentle slope towards the middle of the backyard, is now transformed into large flat raised beds that will absorb a lot of rain water. These beds are now surrounded by swales that will hold water run off for storage in the soil or charging of the aquifer


About The Author

Siamack Sioshansi

Siamack is the executive director and co-founder of the project. He was born in a small village in southeast Iran where he learned about food and the importance of community resiliency. He attended Purdue University and worked for IBM and Apple Computers before starting a software company. He lives in San Francisco.

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