22 Aug 2012
After all the great comments to yesterday’s post, I did a bunch more research and reading and youtube hopping to further refine by own understanding. Sometimes what we’re lacking is full definitions.
Most of what’s available on the internet about swales and “green” water management is meant for city and business planning. Directing water away from storm drains and letting it seep slowly into the ground is the goal, contaminants are cleaned from the runoff by the plants and soil, the resulting cleaner water replenishes groundwater and then enters the aquifer. This is in contrast to stormwater runoff which goes into the city’s drains and then usually directly into creeks or rivers, still filled with pollutants.
Well, how can I use this technique in my yard?
Flooding is not really an issue here. Gainesville is a giant sandbox. Even those areas in my yard that fill up to 6″ deep or more during a heavy storm drain within 15 minutes after the rain stops. Rain water falling on my property would never go into a storm drain, my neighborhood doesn’t even have them. So my goal isn’t to keep water out of the storm drains.
What I would like to do is catch the water that sheets off of the driveway towards a place where it would do some good, like watering a tree. Here’s a great page discussing this. Maybe collecting the water across the front of the yard by cutting a wide curved swale and then using the soil to build a slightly higher berm closer to the house? Then I plant the rest of the fruit trees in the swale. That would be a very big job but it would keep the water in my fledgling food forest, where I need it, and reduce if not eliminate the water flowing up the front walk and collecting in front of the porch.
I’m going to go home and walk around the yard some more and see if any other ideas spring forth.