Working your plan

The physical act of creating a nonstorage irrigation system isn't complicated. The tools aren't complicated, either: You need a pick or mattock (which is like a pickaxe with a flat blade), maybe a digging bar, a shovel, and a rake. You know what I'm going to tell you next. Yup. Start digging.


Create each swale by making a shallow ditch. Place the soil from your ditch on the downhill side of the swale, creating a bank like a little levee (or put the soil on both sides, where the land on both sides of the swale is equally high). Be sure to leave extra soil on the outside of turns, where potential for erosion and blowouts is greater.

If you'll be adding boulders to the swale to make it into a dry streambed, choose rounded rock forms, not angular or broken pieces. Vary the sizes, being sure to include some big boulders — as large as you can safely move.

Bury at least one-third of each large boulder so that it isn't just sitting on the surface. To make things look more natural, place a few boulders on top of others, as though rushing water tossed them there. Make sure that your boulders are big enough that they won't wash away. And, finally, never use gravel in the bottom of the swale where the water runs; it'll be gone in the first good storm.

Ponding zones

Mark off the borders of your ponding zones with gypsum or lime. (You can make the ponds interesting shapes, if you like.) Adjust the depth so you won't have standing water for more than 12 hours after a rain; if your soil drains quickly, you can make your ponding zones as much as 18 inches deep. Surround your ponding zone with a berm (a low mound made of the earth you remove from the basin of the ponding zone itself) that's at least 2 feet wide so the zone lasts a long time.

The bottom of each basin should be flat and level so the water spreads out as much as possible. If the soil is compacted, break it up with a pick. Plant and mulch your basins for stability.

You can make swales and ponding zones deep and visible or so shallow that nobody but you knows they exist; this decision is an aesthetic one that's up to you. The basins will eventually fill with mulch and plants, anyway, becoming less apparent than they were when they were new.

Percolation chambers

To make a percolation chamber, follow these steps:

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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