Sculpting Terrain for Directed Runoff

Swales are depressions that follow the contour around the base of a slope channeling storm water from one place to another. The addition of a perforated pipe laid in gravel underneath can help handle heavy water flow. A small swale might carry gutter water from a house to a dry well or the street, while a more substantial one could run along the base of a hill above a low-lying house to divert water around it.

Swales can be almost unnoticeable as a landscape feature, but are vital for carrying storm water away from or around the home. Unfortunately, sometimes swales are mistakenly filled in by homeowners who do not realize that this lower-lying area actually serves an important drainage purpose. Swales are one of the least expensive and easiest ways to divert unwanted surface water.