Hugelkultur vs. Swales

Permaculture is for everyone.

Permaculture is for everyone.

In Permaculture design one design element is water management. We want to maximize water usage on our land. As the saying goes when talking about water we want to “slow it, spread it, and sink it”. Two techniques in permaculture to accomplish this is swales and hugelkultur. In designing my property who would win swales or hugel? First lets have a look at swales. Swales are a ditch, but a special ditch. A ditch dug on contour. When it rains water flows through the land at 90 degree angle on contour. A level swale will hold water allowing the water to seep into the berm down slope. A sill or overflow is installed to control how the water flows across the land. A series of swales directs water across the land very slowly then sending it on its way when we are done with it. Hugelkultur is a wood core mound or berm. I’m on a fairly small scale ( 3 acres), so I chose hugelkultur. Why? Well let me tell you. Note this is my observations on my property and may be different for you. Other than a few months in the summer my land receives fair amount of rain, so drought isn’t normally a factor. When looking at swales is decided that only with a shovel and such it was a lot more work than hugel beds. Since I put my hugel beds on contour it acts similar to a swale. Mounding up tree limbs and leaves from several live oak were very easier for me. Much easier than digging a ditch. But now finishing the berm comes the down side of hugelkultur. To finish the berm I need to add more organic matter; compost, straw, and fill dirt. Basically any organic materials I can get my hands on. Those are coming from another spot. This material must be imported from another part of my land or brought in. Even with this hugelkultur was easier and a better option for me. Let me know your thoughts on this. Leave a comment of email me  . As always may the blessings of liberty be upon you.

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