Permaculture design considerations based on contour and water map

Friday 7-6-2012

As part of my permaculture design course homework, I was asked to make a contour map of my property using the ‘A’ frame level I constructed. This was unbelievably time-consuming! I probably have 13 man hours into this homework assignment. Below is the homework question and results.


Sketch your own property. Mark shade, show contours, and possible areas where soil is the wettest. Mark any natural water flows. Have you committed 10% of your land to capture and water storage? If not, what projects could be done?   


I have committed just a small portion of my land to capture and water storage. At present I collect our rainwater from our roof in a concrete cistern that is tied to a drip irrigation system for the zone 1 garden. I also mulch my zone 1 garden and build a deep humus layer to hold more water. After surveying the land and making my maps, it has occurred to me that I could certainly do more in this arena.


Possible design considerations based on contour lines and water map to capture and store more water

1.  Capture and hold more water in the soil with swales on and berms on contour.


2.  Plant more shrubs and trees on the berms downslope of the swales on steeper slopes. Gentle slopes can be planted on both sides.


3.  A pond is also a consideration, but it may be difficult without a spring or creek to feed it, and I may run into zoning issues.


4. Hugelkultur installed on contour as the berms could also add to the water holding capacity and planting variety.


5. I do have one concern about a large scale swale and berm project. If I am really successful, I have heard of springs developing downhill, which would be right into my neighbor’s yard. I am not sure how realistic this issue is, more research is needed.      


Contour map with wet areas marked in green

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