Now you can confidently plan, construct and plant your own earthworks to harvest water on your permaculture site

From swales and dams to drains and ponds, you can learn everything you need to construct earthworks on your site – and discover the many benefits doing so brings to the soil, plants, animals, and you! Discover how to analyze, plan, create and plant your earthworks to make healthy ecosystems and preserve precious water.

This course gives you a comprehensive guide to the various forms of earth works that can be excavated on a permaculture site to help capture, store and channel water that comes onto your property.

Water Earthworks

The skills you will learn in this course include the following:

  • Consider how water earthworks can provide cultivation opportunities
  • Analyze the suitability of earthworks for your site
  • Understand the importance of topsoil preservation when excavating
  • Recognize the function of dams and when they might be appropriate on a site
  • Learn about constructing a dam and the importance of spillways
  • Learn how to plant a swale to create a long-lasting ecosystem
  • Appreciate the functions of drains and their place in water management systems
  • Understand the characteristics of different types of drain
  • Recognize how a Keyline system uses trenches, dams and drains to modify water flow
  • Plan and implement a Keyline system on your permaculture property
  • Understand the importance of shape, depth and edge to the function and yield of a pond
  • Be able to plan, excavate and fill a pond on your site
  • Consider the different categories of plants that make up a pond ecosystem
  • Learn about pond plant species that can provide food for the gardener and livestock

Preserving water and using it effectively is one of the most important parts of any permaculture design. Devising suitable strategies to slow the speed at which water passes through our site, spreading it across large areas and allowing it to sink into the soil to recharge groundwater supplies, as well as storing it for a wide variety of uses are all measure we can take to do so. Water earthworks involve modifying the landscape to put these goals into action.

We’ll also look at some of the other reasons why water earthworks might be a suitable component of your permaculture design, from protection against wildfire to providing drinking water for livestock animals and becoming more self-reliant. Whatever your reasons for constructing a water earthwork – and you may very well have several, because such earthworks can serve multiple functions – this course will help you achieve your effective water-use goals

There are several options when it comes to using water earthworks, each of which have their own characteristics and uses. In this course we will look at:

• Dams
• Swales
• Drains
• Ponds

We’ll uncover the role dams can play in storing water for a variety of uses. The course also looks at the various types of drains that you can construct to move water from one location to another on your site.

Water earthworks are also used to help recharge the soil with moisture, and one of the most common constructions for doing that is the swale. This course gives you the lowdown on this essential technique; outlining how you can measure the slope of your land, decide on the placement of the swale, and incorporate it into your overall permaculture design.

Drains are methods of controlling water flow and directing it to maximize effectiveness –we’ll look at some of the more common types of drains and how they can be utilized on your site. You’ll also learn about overflows and outlet channels to ensure your earthworks don’t threaten the integrity of your site.

The course looks into the role ponds can play on a permaculture property as well. It discusses the functions a pond can have, and how to plant it for maximum biodiversity – and also to get a yield from it.

For almost any water earthwork that you construct on your site, a good planting plan will bring added benefits. Devising a suitable planting strategy can help stabilize your earthwork, provide a growing niche for a wide variety of plants, and provide food for your kitchen. Indeed, some water earthworks can support entire self-sustaining ecosystems. This course will show you how.

Build your self-sufficiency skills with a self-paced online learning experience

We will also introduce you to one of the more established system of water earthworks that combines several of these individual constructions into a cohesive whole – the Keyline system. If you have a larger site with some elevation to it, this could be just the answer you are looking for when it comes to diverting and using water more effectively. The course will demonstrate the suitable conditions in which the Keyline system will perform best, and give guidance on constructing your own.

Not only do you get a thorough grounding in the form, function and fruitful use of each of these earthworks, the course offers practical guidance and tips on constructing each of them on your site. You’ll learn how to identify your needs when it comes to water use, so you can use the most suitable earthwork for meeting them. You will also discover how a thorough analysis of your site and your local climate conditions will inform your design strategies, and influence the type and size of earthworks you select. Then when you are ready, you can use the instructions here to implement your design.