Swales in North Texas Take on 2.5 inches of Rain and Preform Perfectly — 22 Comments

    • In the west paddock where their rotation says they are supposed to be right now, doing the hard work of tilling horse shit into my soil so I don’t have to. Not to worry their wet weather pond there is full to the brim for them right now. I have tried to show Barbie and her friends the swales but they get about 80% of the way there then they get scared at being to far from known territory and double back.

  1. Amazing! Can’t wait until I can design my son’s property to do the same thing 🙂

  2. This video does make me wonder why you aren’t putting in a duck pond down there at that low point to capture more of the water and put it to work.

    I’m sure you’ve got your reasons Jack, though I’m curious what they are. [I’m guessing it might be related to the road being right there?]

    • Mostly there isn’t a good spot for a pond large enough that it won’t go skank in the summer. Additionally it is right next to the neighbors, the ONLY neighbors. Why poke a person when you don’t have to?

      The rock will make this a nightmare of an expense anywhere what we have selected is the spot that minimizes that nightmare.

  3. Jack… in a grid down situation, do you have the ability to put a pump in your tank and to pump the water into your 3000 gallons of stock tanks ??

    Ya know… I guess you’d just run your well pump and pump up clean drinking water if you were going to go to the trouble to hook up a pump and a generator.

    How deep is your freshwater well in that part of Texas ??


    • They are not stock tanks they are poly tanks black ones and the water is likely as safe as well water. I could move the water to the house with volumetric pressure alone, or for a bit of energy I could use the SurFlo to pump it. That puts it though a filter too. The water in those tanks WOULD go into my Berkey before I drank it, BUT it is better quality water than what most of the world is drinking right now.

      On the well since I didn’t it in, I have no idea. Our well in Arkansas was over 500 feet deep but that is because we were on top of a mountain.

  4. Love to see that! That is how they are suppose to work. Now I am breathing easier that I did the correct thing here by turning my into a hugle bed and closing it in. No matter how much it rained here we never had water in our swales Nice to see one in full swing. Thanks stay safe and well.

  5. Best 7:22 of my morning Jack. Wouldn’t it be nice to
    see a satellite shot of your property and the surrounding area in mid August…

    Since I am a visual learner; seeing the end result in action makes it alot clearer as to how this is supposed to work…

  6. Jack,

    awesome video man! this is getting sent to all my bitching relatives in the fresno/hollister area of California. a ditch on contour that holds over 26,000 gallons of water may help to open their eyes on what permaculture can do for them. thanks again so much for everything you do!


  7. I’d be interested in a follow up video telling us how long that water remained available for use. Great video showing the swales that are set up. Good stuff! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Often times a swale will overflow in large events- as part of the design process, have you thought of the possibility of a “mulch trap” somewhere near where the overflow leaves the property? Large rain events often have wind or sometimes hail which will strip foilage- a cunning bit of design could not only keep that asset on your property for later use, but also maybe deliver it to where it can be either used, or a location from where it can be easily transported to where it can be used. Of course, in the ‘usual’ rain events there is no need for the trap, as the moisture is held in situ, as is the mulch. This is aimed more at the ‘extreme’ events.
    Just a thought, and thanks for the vid.

    • That is what the swales themselves do, did you not see the water not even carrying loose leaves with it?

    • My first line. ‘large events’. Clarified later. ‘extreme events.’
      Not talking about what swales usually do and are designed to do for events like you have just had- talking about more water moving quickly through the system than the swales can process, potentially taking biomass out of the system.
      Other than the fence, I see nothing in place.
      I guess because I live in an area with 72 inches on average of rain, (and expecting a system today and tomorrow which has the potential to drop over a foot of rain in under 36 hours), and as a young feller had to repair a lot of fencing after flood debris clogged and then damaged it, it sort of stands out to me as a potential loss of a resource.

  9. Jack, thanks for taking the time to film and post that. It was helpful for showing my wife what swales look like in a real-world system. Even though she’s an engineer and understands the concept, the visual helps a lot. She asked about the potential for swales to turn your property into a swamp/mosquito breeding ground. I said the water will seep into the ground long before that happens – even with our clayey soil – and that we’d space and size them appropriately to our rain events here in Missouri. If you have additional perspective to add I’d appreciate it, but that’s what I learned in the PermaEthos PDC. Thanks again!

    • I believe Jack has commented on the whole mosquito thing in past episodes to be just as what you said. I think my rain gutters are more likely to breed mosquitos before swales, and I live in a swamp

  10. Do you have a rain catchment system?
    Do you plan to drill a water well or is that not feasible for your location?
    I like the swale concept but are you trying to establish multiple water sources?
    Like 3 or more water sources.

    • Well I have a well, I also have about 9000 gallons of rain catchment that is filtered and can be used for anything from irrigation to drinking but none of that really has anything at all to do with swales and earth works.