Use Swales to Control Water on Your Country Lot

A system of swales, ditches, and catchment systems, such as ponds, will better hydrate your soil and protect your land from erosion.

By Josh Brewer, sponsored by Echo USA
June 2017

Yellow

Photo by Adobe Stock/dutchlight

When water flows across your acreage, its speed and route — especially during heavy rains — affects erosion of sloped surfaces, the water quality of nearby ponds, creeks, and streams, and, ultimately, your soil moisture levels. Swales, also called contour bunds, are ditches that catch and slowly filtrate water through your soil as compared to drainage ditches, which quickly move water from your property. Swales aren’t new or overly complicated, and today a growing number of farmers, homesteaders, and ranchers in regions with heavy rains, long droughts, and dropping aquifers are taking advantage of this land management technique.

Step 1: Outline Your Swale with an A-Frame

The humble A-frame is the most important tool for building or maintaining swales, because it indicates whether your swale is on contour, or level, with the slope of your land. The size of your A-frame will depend on the length of your swale, but 5-foot boards and 8-foot boards will provide a length of run without adding too much weight.



Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $19.95!





Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter