Greenville, South Carolina, USA

Hugelkultur Berms and Swales at Thrive Upstate

Thomas Leonard and Carlos Terry built a system of berms and swales on contour at The Generous Garden Project at Thrive Upstate in Greenville, SC.  The system provided water harvesting ditches to reduce erosion by slowing the downhill flow of water and trapping organic matter. In addition the swales hold water allowing it to percolate into the ground.  This additional ground water provided superior plant growth of shade tolerant annuals, small perennials and fruit trees.

The system was build in a couple of hours by a team of two to three people.  The team used an A frame to mark the contour lines with fallen logs and branches collected from the adjacent forest.  Then they used an excavator to dig a ditch up hill from the marked contour lines.  This depression resulted in the swale.  The removed soil was pulled down hill to cover the wood and form a berm.


The elevated berms were planted in a poly culture of different crops.  Perennials such as mint, asparagus, strawberries, rudbeckia and artichokes were planted on the shady edge.  Crimson clover and peas were used as a cover crop to fix nitrogen and compete with weeds. The ends of the berms were planted with apple and pear trees that were trained to the fence.

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