What Is a Swale?
A swale is a natural gutter that catches your runoff water and directs it into a ditch. You can have more than one ditch for a single swale. Likewise, it’s possible to have multiple swales on a single piece of land.
Furthermore, stormwater runoff that travels through your swales can be used as a groundwater recharge source. This means you’re able to direct what’s absorbed in swales to below the soil surface and into the groundwater, which can even work in a crunch if your well’s water supply dries up.
How a Yard Swale Works
The typical swale for a residential yard is a conveyance swale, meaning it doesn’t include a water treatment process. It takes the runoff water from your gutter’s downspout and ensures it get taken elsewhere in your yard. This water is sometimes used for a rain garden.
It works by taking runoff water from its original place and redirecting it to the final destination. This is usually a marshy ditch (actually, a “contour trench”) which absorbs and redirects the water. If you’re new to this, reusing stormwater is very beneficial.
Do You Need a Swale?
This type of yard drainage system is recommended for homeowners suffering from heavy runoff water. It’s good for anyone looking to keep water on the property as slow as possible. Even with a grade below four percent, the right swale design can still slow down water flow and keep more of it “ditched” on your property.
You can even install multiple swales on your property to catch more water if you have the need for it. Keep it away from buildings, lower terrain, septic drains, and steep slopes. You can keep swales close in high-slope areas, but normally a minimum of five meters distance apart is recommended.
Will a Swale Work on Flat Land?
While swales are recommended to be placed on land that has at least a four percent grade, it is possible, with professional installation, to have a swale placed on completely flat land.
Due to water distribution, it’s not recommended for a swale to be placed on flat land without a professional gutter and swale installer to help disperse the water.
The majority of building a swale is digging a hole, so it’s not the most expensive thing to do. There are many benefits that come from it and, with the dry weather in Texas, saving natural rainfall comes with certain perks.
There are alternatives, such as rain barrels, chains, and, gutters. Still, swales can be a cost-effective option for most land.