Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Laneway trellis

Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

I wanted to make the most of the laneway that runs down the east side of the property. The laneway is regularly poisoned by the local council with Roundup, so using runoff water from there needs to take that into consideration. Roundup, produced by the company Monsanto, is one of the most commonly used herbicides on the market. It has falsely been claimed as 'safe' by the company, and has never been submitted for testing by the EPA.
Thankfully, the council workers began poisoning the laneway up from my property, as they could see that I was growing plants nearby. Still, I'd prefer if they would mow the laneway instead. I spoke to the workers about maintaining the laneway around my property myself, so to avoid direct contamination. They were fine with that, so long as I kept the grass / weeds down.
Following on from my keeping water out of the cellar post, I want to ensure that water runs away from, and not into the cellar. I experimented with some small earthworks around the cellar that diverted water to a channel in which two kiwis were planted, but found that it was too close and water seeped in through the stairwell wall.

Small channel to divert water away from the cellar to kiwi plants nearby
Growing vines near the cellar will help keep it cool, so I decided to build a trellis / fence along the boundary. A suggestion from my friend Brian was to use reo (reinforcing mesh) for the purpose. It acts as a barrier for unwanted traffic, is much cheaper and easier to build than a fence, gives the feeling of space and provides a great medium for vines to grow up.
Galvanised iron poles were held vertically using clamps before being concreted into the ground. Two sheets of reo mesh (6m x 2.4m high) was screwed straight onto the poles, while a corrugated iron fence was used for the section beyond the workshop.

Clamping the poles so that they remain vertical during the concrete pour
Boysenberries were planted beside the workshop, which may deter intruders, followed by a sultana grapevine, a female and a male kiwi (you need both to produce fruit) and some more Boysenberries at the front of the carport. Planting vines along the laneway gives good access for maintenance and picking, while providing a tasty snack for passers by when in season.
A trench was dug in the laneway along the boundary for the length of the trellis. It acts as a stepped swale, with small walls built along it resulting in a section needing to overflow before the water can continue. This gives any water collected the opportunity to soak in rather than run away. The trench is mounded on the laneway side to prevent any excess or contaminated water entering from the laneway.
After some big rains water again seeped into the cellar. While pumping the water out we tested the stepped swale and found that water was seeping in through gaps in the mortar, helping identify which areas need attention.


Corrugated iron fixed to the north end of the fence, Boysenberries planted along trellis near workshop
Earthworks to divert water away from the cellar entrance
Boysenberries planted in front of the cellar / tankstand, with kiwis and a grape planted along the side
Stepped swale being tested out with water being pumped out of cellar after big rains
Water seeping back into cellar after swales were filled, helping to identify where the problems lie

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