[permaculture] Wood Chips Over Flood Irrigation Channels

Jason Gerhardt jasongerhardt at gmail.com
Fri Jan 10 18:14:13 EST 2014

Hi Chris,
I have done this exact thing on a small yard scale. I didn't have big
problems with floating once the chips got a few floods from rain. Seems
fungal hyphae knit the chips together and they stay moist basically
forever, which reduces floating. What I found was that using it as a path
created compaction of the chips as they decomposed and therefore the water
didn't run through the entire length of the swale since there was very
little pore space (this swale was about 25 feet long). Since I planted
along the entire course of the swale, the plants near the end ended up
needing regular irrigation, and the ones at the beginning were overly

I would probably stick with Darren's suggestion of encouraging a thick
vegetation to grow so you don't muck up your shoes every trip through the
garden, though perhaps muck boots make the best solution as you will have
to contend with dew and all that. On a larger flood irrigation scale chips
are definitely not advisable. Rock would significantly reduce the volume of
your swale without the absorption benefit that woodchips have.

If you go with woodchips, try inoculating them with king stropharia fungi
that way you can still get some productivity from the paths and the
knitting together effect. I don't lay woodchips anymore without
pre-inoculating. Otherwise Darren's concept offers the most productivity.


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