We have a steep slope on the South side of our house which has been a stand of tall grass and weeds for years. It is difficult to mow and the water sheets down the slope in a rainstorm causing erosion and loss of soil nutrients. This year we found a solution… log dam terraces!
These structures are built on a steep (~30%) slope, out of small/medium diameter logs that were easily sourced from trees nearby. The logs are held in place with wooden stakes placed every 2-3 feet across the slope. When completed each bed is about 30 ft. long and 4 feet wide and filled with a fresh compost and soil mixture. There is a nice 2-3-foot-wide path at the top of each bed, covered with wood chips. These paths make easy access to the bed above.
This was a fun project and involved two helpers (well, mostly supervising) shown in this picture.
Here is picture of two finished beds. We planted one bed the first year and started adding beds until we now have four. This translates into almost 500 sq. ft. of beautiful south facing grow space! The beds make excellent use of otherwise useless land and they hold up the water on the slope and prevent erosion.
The crowning touch to this project was a drip system that irrigates the beds at multiple times during the day, supplying water directly to the plant roots. Pictured above is the Bluetooth enabled electronic controller that can be programmed with a tablet (pictured here) or smartphone. It allows us to select when and how long to run, is sparing of water and can shut off when there is rain.
Here is a picture of the drip lines in one of the beds where we have some onions already started. We will cover the drip lines with mulch once the bed is fully planted. This further conserves water and makes the drip lines last longer.
And now, voila! All we need to do is turn the system on in the spring and turn it off in the fall, drain the mainlines and purge the filter and we are done for the season. No more watering (or forgetting to water) by hand and no more foliar watering which helps spread wilts and other diseases. Yay!