What is a swale?

an example of a swale used to direct rainwater

What is a swale?

Using swales for controlling stormwater at home


What is a swale?

Definition: A swale is a natural looking excavated channel in your yard designed to direct and control stormwater.  

What does a swale do?

At its heart, a swale is a subtle indentation in the ground used to direct stormwater.  Swales are used to steer surface stormwater discharge away from and around anything important on your property.  This includes your home’s foundation, accessory structures and outbuildings, as well as important landscaping.

Swales are also useful tool for regulating the speed of stormwater.  The grading and size of a swale can be tactfully used to keep water from rolling too quickly down hills, or other sensitive areas of your lawn.  This ensures protection for your home against large floods of rain water during heavy storms, as well as preventing erosion of delicate landscaping and hillsides.  

A swale can also be set up to direct rain water to your plants and trees.  By taking water from a portion of your yard that receives too much and moving it to a portion that receives too little, a swale is a perfect technique for natural irrigation!  Swales are great at improving the potential of your properties landscaping!

How is a swale added to my property?

A swale is an intentional natural “gutter” for water.  Taking inspiration and design cues from their naturally occurring counterparts, manmade swales look natural and can enhance the beauty of your yard.  Since swales are installed by grading and excavating your property using heavy equipment, it is important to hire a professional excavator to do the job.  This makes sure that your swale is properly – and beautifully – installed.

There are many questions involved in properly designing a swale for your properties needs, but the two foremost questions are where should it go and how big does it need to be.  These questions are answered by analysing the existing grades of your yard and estimating how much stormwater will run through that section of property. After the size and placement of your swale is determined, it can be dug.

A swale is formed by first excavating a shallow trench along the planned path of the swale and then gently grading the sides of the trench down to the bottom. This grading is subtle and intentional. It is what keeps the swale looking soft and natural as opposed to just an ugly trench across your yard.  After the swale is created, it can either be hayed and seeded or sodded.

Do you think your property would benefit from a swale?  C.A. Taciak & Sons performs various stormwater management solutions which you can read about here.  If you are interested in having a swale added to your lawn, get in touch! We’d be happy to get your more information on the process.  Please give us a call at 410-960-2667, or contact us here