Monday, May 4, 2015

A Pond for the Ducks and Geese! Swales in Action

We installed a swale water catchment system in our orchard area last month.  A swale is a sort of ditch laid on contour. Its job is to collect water, slowing its movement down so that it soaks into the soil and forms a "lens" of stored water beneath a berm. Anything planted on the berm benefits from this natural irrigation. You can read about how we installed our swale system here

The north swale on the day of installation. Photo courtesy of Steve Moring, Vajra Farm LLC

It has been pretty dry, so we really haven't seen it fully in action until today. As of this writing, we have received nearly 3.5" of rain over the course of about 3 hours. It is clear how useful a tool the swale system is going to be. 

After 3.2" of rain, the water in the swales stood about 15 inches deep
Our swales are relatively shallow because our soil doesn't percolate water very quickly. Depending on your soil type, you may have deeper or more shallow swales.

If you look carefully in the lower lefthand corner, you can see the white overflow drain that feeds the pond.

Our swales not only water the trees and other plants on the berms but they also serve to fill our new duck and goose pond. Once the water in the swales reaches a certain level, it flows into an underground drain pipe that connects the two swales.

The pond filling up! You can see the water entering from the swale drain on the left. The pond was completely empty prior to today's rain. The pipe on the right is an overflow outlet. 

The water then flows via gravity through the drain pipes downhill into the pond. The pond is approximately 20 ft. across and 5 ft. deep. It filled in less than 3 hours.

All we need to do is figure out our fencing situation and the ducks and geese will be able to enjoy their new pond. This is a considerable upgrade on the kiddie pools they've been using!

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