Erosion restoration design, one year on


Last spring the Milkwood interns cooked up a design to tackle the erosion on a degraded hillside next to the woolshed, and then implemented and planted it all out. This design was done collaboratively and realised with simple tools and natural materials. One year on, it’s working a treat.

The parameters for this design had constraints of time and budget, as well as the fact that the area to be dealt with was quite large and exposed. On top of these factors, in the middle of the area was a former path that was eroding into a gully. Not good. Time to fix.

windbreak woolshed02

windbreak woolshed03

Contour riplines going in

Contour riplines going in

Sabina and Jurgen planting trees on rather unforgiving ground

Sabina and Jurgen planting trees on rather unforgiving ground

Sabina creating rockwork (we called it a riprap, which is vaguely accurate) to direct excess water from the road

Sabina creating rockwork (we called it a riprap, which is vaguely accurate) to direct excess water from the road

windbreak woolshed17

windbreak woolshed11

The contour plantings finished, and all looking a bit bleak. Grow little plants!

One year on, this hillside is clearly repairing. While this obviously wasn’t a fancy design or implementation in terms of scale or budget (we had to use whatever tree seedlings were available for free, for example), it has slowed and spread the water, and many of the trees are starting to leap ahead.

You can see the results from comparable shots – the first batch were taken in October 2011, the second batch taken in November 2012…

October 2011

November 2012

The gabions that were built across the path/gully have done their job, slowing and spreading the water towards planting either side…

October 2011

windbreak woolshed22

windbreak woolshed23

windbreak woolshed24

The contour plantings have also done well, despite no decent rain this last Winter and Spring…

windbreak woolshed25

windbreak woolshed26

And looking downhill, the gullification has prettymuch stopped…

windbreak woolshed27

windbreak woolshed28

I’m not even sure if these photos translate that well, but for us this was a very interesting project – primarily because time and funds were so tight for it…

Like any farm, at Milkwood there’s a long, long list of things to do and repair, and that gully/path near the woolshed wasn’t, in many ways, anywhere near the top of the list. However we were aware that anything we could do to get trees up around the woolshed would benefit everyone in terms of making that space more comfortable, so we gave it a week, and let the interns of last spring direct the design.

Another little inch towards a more comfortable, abundant place to live, while letting the water do the work…

Big thanks to last Spring’s interns Sabina, Jurgen, Claire, Liv, Adam and Ashley, and to Milkwood crew Trev and Nick for making it all happen.

>> More posts on watershed restoration



  1. alex Keenan
    Posted December 13, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    Very nice job of water control and establishing root mass.
    It should also now be self repairing.

  2. Posted December 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

    As one who lives on slopes and immpliments cheap measures so slow the erosion, I have to say, I get these pictures really well. I especially liked the rock work, as it was a compromise between a pretty bleak (but necessary) road run-off system, and a pretty unforgiving hardpan road.

    I know what you’re dealing with, they aren’t easy solutions even if they are cheap!

    We are using felled trees for our gabions, as we’ve seen it work in some of the deeper gullies on our block – only nature felled those ones without our assistance. To compliment the system however, you really do need the soft scaping (or green capital) as it can be more flexible and slows erosion developing elsewhere.

    In my experience, you’re always dealing with some form of erosion, it’s just you have to work it in your favour. ;)

  3. Jim
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It is interesting to see how you have accomplished so much in that 12 months by reducing stock and pedestrian traffic, putting some contoured rip lines for tree planting into, retain moisture by a little effort and have a good season with good grass and plant growth.
    Hope it continues to heal itself. It is great to see your soil erosion being corrected because it is occurring in lots of places and most people couldn’t care less.

  4. nopalito
    Posted December 16, 2012 at 10:56 am | Permalink | Reply

    Fantastic to see a lo-fi (but well considered and implemented approach to arresting erosion. I’ll be interested to see how it continues to develop and heal. On our property we have some significant eroded and erosive areas, so always on the lookout for approaches such as this to trial.

  5. Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Great to see water restoration works in action. Well done guys.

  6. Dean
    Posted December 18, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Very, very impressive. What a difference a contour can make!

  7. Posted December 28, 2012 at 8:52 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great project Kirsten and good to see folk dealing with the erosion issue. We have many irrigated horticulture enterprises in this hilly area and it’s heartbreaking to see the gully erosion in our beautiful landscape. As most are for-profit enterprises, putting in adequate drainage, let alone working with contours, is something that many don’t want to spend money on.

    Always good to see what is achievable with very limited expenditure! :)

  8. Lucy
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Kirsten, What trees are those?


  9. Dean Driscoll
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    What a change! Eden here you come!

  10. Posted February 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Hi Kirsten,
    are those riplines from a yeomans? I did this to our orchard in dec 2012 and the absence of rain since that time means the riplines have actually dried out more than they might have otherwise. Its great technology if you have some rain to manage.

  11. ray
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 12:25 am | Permalink | Reply

    well done ;)

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