My husband and I moved into our new property last August. We're located in Washington state on a very sandy ridge top site. Zone 8b.
I am looking for local PNW resources and advice for designing earthwork placement and the basic framework for a ~20 acre farm/homestead. Main buildings are already in place so I'll have to work around those. I'd love consultantation but I'll start with spit balling ideas.
I am conflicted about where to place swales, ponds, terraces, etc. Or if they are even appropriate for my very sandy site. Water is my biggest concern after our current summer of nearly 50 days without rain and averaging 85 degrees for weeks. Things are looking more arid in our usually maritime PNW.
We dug a 4ft hole last fall near the house and it seemed to be mostly sand all the way down that held no water throughout our rainy winter so there probably isn't enough clay to capture water without additional inputs.
-Terraced with swales on the east slope
-Mark Sheppard style orchard with many tree/shrub species on a North/South contour
-Pig or Cow grazing in the orchard alleys
-Some kind of water retention, preferably ponds
Following the rough contour lines it looks like the best spot for water retention would be right under the house haha. That also happens to be about where the east slope flattens out. Another good spot might be right next to the road and drive way and the field west of the house. The road along our property is higher than our land so any water traveling along it is traped on our side. We might need to do some water diversion if we can increase rention around the backside of the property since a paved road cuts through the front.
I'm sorry you haven't gotten any replies yet. I've added your thread to a couple of other forum headings in hopes that it will catch someone's eye. I can't give you any advice because my land has next to no topography. I do like looking at your maps though, because I can fantasize about having hills. Man, that'd be sweet.
**Fingers crossed for a better welcome to Permies**
“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”
Oh good call out!
According to the 2017 FEMA Risk Report my property is in a "Very Low Liquefaction Risk" zone and on the Washington Geologic Information Portal it looks like no risk of landslides though the neighbors have some "Shallow Susceptibility".
Sounds like you're in a good spot for swales, at least as far as hazards are concerned.
Check your state laws about water rights for using surface water. (I live in Oregon, so my laws are different.) Does your property come with any water rights already? What water can you legally use without needing a water right? If you build a pond without approval, the government might fine you and/or make you demolish it at your own expense when it gets found out.
As for water retention in general, although under the house might be easiest due to the contour, that's not the same as the most useful. (Especially if you don't want to flood your house.) It's generally more flexible to have your water retention uphill if you can manage it, because then you can let it flow anywhere downhill that you need it.
Is there any run-off coming from the road or the property uphill to your east that you can capture? That would give you an uphill water reserve. Since it'd be run-off from property you don't control, it might be polluted but you could filter it through a wetland to clean it up.
Another option would be to collect water from the building roofs into elevated cisterns. Because roofs are higher than ground level, you can elevate your cisterns enough to give them a wider area that they can supply without pumps. And since cisterns are waterproof, they dodge the problems with sealing a pond in sandy soil. Since you will probably want your family garden close to the house, roofwater cisterns would be a great way to store water for the garden.
If you do build a pond, you will probably need to truck in clay or a pond liner to seal it. To mitigate water loss from the pond's surface through evaporation, you can shade it with trees and/or cover a large part of it with anything from a pier to a floating cover.
passwords must contain 14 characters, a number, punctuation, a small bird, a bit of cheese and a tiny ad.
Permaculture Voices 1, 2 and 3 - all 117 hours of video!