If you want to see Earthworks in action check out how China completely changed their northern region from desert to Garden of Eden. This is by far my favorite video and what got me started in all this so many years ago.
I touched on Earthworks in my overview of water harvesting
The basic principle of Earthworks is to design natural ways to keep water and use water on your property. This involve slope, gravity, trenches, barriers, trees, and plants.
First you assess where the water falls, flows, and collects on your property. Does it all flow into your neighbor’s yard? You dont want that. So take note of where all the rain goes.
Then decide where you want to send the rain instead.
Lets pretend we are starting from scratch. We have open land, light slopes here and there, with some trees but we haven’t decided where we want anything yet.
So we take a slope and we start marking elevation lines accross the slope.
I did this by building an A-frame, attaching a level to the crossbeam and walking the Aframe step by step across this hill. Then I put a picket flag in the dirt with each step.
This gives me lines across the hill that are level with each other.
The lines arent straight, and they don’t stay regular but theyre level. This is crucial.
Now I dig a trench along each line. This creates parallel trenches on the slope.
Imagine it rains right now. Instead of the rain pouring down the slope like before, it flows down, catches in the first trench and fills it.
The water that lands between trench 1 and 2 falls into trench 2.
The water between 2 and 3 falls into trench 3 etc.
Now picture the errosion that goes with that style of rainfall. The rain above tench 1 will pull soil into trench 1. Trench 2 and 3 will do the same. This is creating a stair step effect naturally.
Now when it rains, the water no longer flows down the hill, but it sits on its respective step until it sinks into the soil and is used by the plants.
No more runoff.
Watch the video to see how they did this in the massive scale but you can do it in your own backyard using the same methods.
When you do this, you keep the water and soil where you want it naturally. You are no longer fighting against gravity but working with it. You’re giving the water time to be absorbed rather than fleeing down to the bottom of the hill. You’re giving plants a chance to get that water rather than only feeding the plants at the bottom.
Use Earthworks to keep water on your land, and to direct it where you want it to go.
But it all starts with a plan.
Go outside while its raining.
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