P90424Building and environmental codes are so ridiculous. So much of what I would want in my home is now illegal. So much modern technology that I do not want is now required. Fireplaces and wood stoves are not allowed. Overly elaborate electrical systems to serve every room are necessary. I would prefer a technologically simple home comparable to those built more than a century ago, but am prohibited by law from ever constructing one.
The area outside of a home is no easier to work with. Dead trees inhabited by the wrong sorts of woodpeckers can not be cut down. Excavation can be prohibited if a particular beetle happens to be in the way. Even some of the increasingly combustible trees and overgrown vegetation have more rights on my land than I do. Now, I am a horticulturist; so I know more about vegetation management than the treehuggers formulating these laws.
Even some of the weather has more rights than people do. In some municipalities, rain that falls onto a property has the right to percolate into the soil. Rain water that drains from roofs and pavement must be provided with ‘swales’ or basins where it can do so. It can not be evicted into old drainage systems that drain into local creeks and rivers. However, such rain water must not be detained in tanks for use in the landscape through summer.
The picture above shows part of a new landscape in the middle of a new parking lot at a newly constructed building. It looks simple for a reason. It is a pair of swales. The meadow grasses conceal a pair of surprisingly deep ditches on either side of the central walkway. Rain water drains here to percolate into the ground. The soil below the walkway might have been replaced with coarse gravel to promote drainage into that area as well.
Do not park a car at the curb and try to step from the curb into a swale to get to the walkway! You could get hurt. As I mentioned, that grass is concealing ditches that are deeper than they look. It is safer to walk through the parking lot to a large paved patio like area that is out of view behind where the picture was taken from. The other option is to walk away from the building to the far end of the walkway, but really, who would do that?
Why is the walkway even there? I really don’t know. There are no curbs on it, so anyone in a wheelchair who feels so compelled to go to the far end to use it could get seriously hurt by tumbling off the edge while trying to get out of way of someone going the opposite direction! The swales are snares for walkers and baby buggies too. Perhaps the walkway is merely bait. What are the surveillance cameras really for? What sick entertainment!


22 thoughts on “Horridculture – That’s Just Swale

  1. That is both hilarious (the way it’s written) and horrible. What an awful swale design. I spend a lot of time trying to make sure things in public areas are level and safe. That looks like a person could walk right across it. Never to be seen again.

    I also think it is nuts that some municipalities won’t let people collect rain water for watering gardens. Better that it should flow across an oily driveway into the gutter, I guess.

    Sent from my iPad


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    1. It is all so inane. You would think that collecting rainwater would be the responsible thing to do. It seems like it would be better than letting is percolate into the ground and then need to be pumped back out again. The problem is that rain is a public resource, like the water in creeks and rivers. All that means is that it belongs to those who can sell the water. I would not have such a problem with that is I could charge rent for it using my property and taking up space while it percolates into the ground. Rain does not pay rent.


  2. Oh my goodness, the unsuspecting person would have no idea. Unbelievable. And the grass looks so inviting too–or probably would to a child ( I have no idea what this is a parking lot for–I can only hope some industry where children aren’t likely to visit).

    We have reached the point where reason no longer is in charge.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is at a new Starbuck’s, where people come out carrying coffee, or those cardboard devices that contain a few cups of coffee. They walk down this walkway to their car, which seems like the sensible thing to do . . . since the walkway is there . . . and then step across to their cars.


  3. This would be amusing, except it isn’t. Apart from the issues with the poorly designed swales, what in the world with not allowing for rainwater collection? Around here, there are workshops for people who want to do that efficiently and attractively.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rainwater is considered to be a public resource. Besides, someone has too much money to make from allowing it to soak into the ground and pumping it back out again to sell it.


  4. And no warning signs to tell people that they’re deep? It’s a crazy world we live in now, for sure. I decided I was glad to be old when they started regulating the capture of rain water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is at a Starbuck’s, where there are warnings that hot coffee might be . . . hot, and that food might have been processed in a factory with other food that someone, somewhere, might be allergic to, (and who might lack the common sense to consider that processed food is actually . . . processed.). There are two restrooms for every gender imaginable, but none for the androgynous. Inside the restrooms, there are jungle gyms so that handicapped people can use the toilets, but the toilet paper dispensers are just a few inches above the floor and out of reach from the toilets. Anyway, there are no warnings about the swale.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What happens to this grass in summer? Does it go brown, or is precious water used to irrigate it? The grass is pretty right now, but it’s the only pretty thing. The whole arrangement, because it is anti-human, dysfunctional and unnatural, is downright ugly. What caught my eye immediately are the thick posts sticking up, decorated with leaves which do nothing to mitigate the industrial look.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really? I am not sure what to think of them. They are quite stylish, but I am not sure that I actually like them. They would look better without the car charger, signpost and streetlamp. With that extra clutter, they look like more infrastructure, rather than something more artistic.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It depends on how the grass gets mown or cut. An incompetent ‘landscape’ company that I worked for would mow something like this, and make it look weirder than it already does. I have seen other landscape companies shear the top of it with hedge shears,which can look shabby, but more like meadow grass, which is better than mown ditches.


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