Left of center in this picture, you can see black plastic covering a tree stump. These lovelies were left behind by the tree-cutting crew. In the foreground, you might see a metal four-foot level. This is a helpful tool for determining the tangent point of each fish-scale swale that we designed and later had Santa Fe Permaculture install.
Here’s a good view—not of the steepest part, but of the challenging mix of rock and exposed soil. The soil was exposed because the clients had already done some much-needed fire-prevention work. Replacing the evergreens with smaller evergreens was not an option when it came to our plant pallet due to their combustibility at any size.
Prior to the design-and-installation processes, this camera angle revealed how steep the slope was. In a couple places, it was nearly 90 degrees, but varied. Much of it was so dangerous that I suggested fencing that might keep people from falling a great distance to serious injury or death, but the clients were not wanting a fence for a variety of excellent reasons. We decided early on that densely planted native and drought tolerant woody shrubs would be the way to go. Once established, such plants would help prevent threats from the laws of gravity, drunkenness, wanderlust, and ignorance.
I'm looking forward to my Journey Santa Fe talk on Sunday, October 8th but I am also looking forward to this talk a few weeks earlier (Sunday, September 10) featuring Tony Anella, founder of the Aldo Leopold writing program. Both events start at 11am.
Here is a series of before pictures of a recent project that required the stabilization of a steep slope. In addition to being steep, note that it is also rocky. Other factors to consider were that access was narrow and steep, materials-storage space was limited, and the deck was schedule to be extended further from the existing residence.
This year The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association will be hosting its annual conference in Orlando, Florida, October 16-18. With a wide variety of presentations from microbiomes to water tank design in Australia this year’s gathering looks to be interesting and informative. New Mexico Water Collaborative Founder and Executive Director Yvette Tovar will be speaking on Tuesday the 17th.
Choosing a favorite pattern would be a lot like picking a favorite child--hard for most people to do, but tessellation has a certain place in my heart because it’s the least well-known pattern. Tessellation, however, is no less important than any of the other patterns, and in fact in many situations, such as steep slopes, it’s essential to apply tessellation. The pictures above define tessellation better than any words can, but think of tessellation as a pattern that repeats shapes, often of a similar size, and usually within a limited size range. Fish scales are a great example for helping people think about tessellation, and we mimic the fish-scale pattern on steep slopes, like the one in the following example.
Finally, what would a patio in the southwest be without a shade tree? The answer, my friends, is maybe a breakfast nook—if you are lucky. Most patios in the high desert require shade, or people will not use them after 11am. Sorry, it’s a little blurry, but please note the shade tree (locust for low-water needs and dappled-shade effect) here, on the southwest side of the patio.