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Are you suffering from your plants being washed away in the heavy rain? A swale is your solution! It is a water harvesting technique that both protects your soil and keeps water from running away.

To make an effective swale, you must dig along the contour (one level). First prepare an A-Frame to make the level accurately. All you need is 3 pieces of wood, a piece of string, and a weight. The 2 legs of the A-Frame must be equal in length. Hang the weight from the top with the string. Stand the A-Frame on the level place to mark the center on the horizontal bar. Swing around at the same spot and mark the center again.

If the 2 marks are not the same, take the middle of the 2 marks. When you use it in the field or garden, stand the A-Frame so that the weight is in the center mark, which means it is level. Mark the place of the starting point and the place of the fore leg. Then pivot swinging the rear leg. Continue swinging the A-Frame along the field. Each time before you pivot, mark the place where the leg was. Dig along the marks.

The swale slows and spreads water run-off allowing it to soak into the soil. Trees planted along the swale behave as though they are growing in a much higher rainfall area. The soil down slope is more moist and softer than it would be without the swale.

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