Creating Berms and Swales: A front yard food forest case study

case study food forest water catchment May 02, 2024


Watch a tour of this case study on YouTube

This case study comes from the team at Custom Foodscaping in St. Louis.

The Challenge and the Goal:

At this St. Louis suburban residence, the clients had two goals: grow food and stop the water pooling in their driveway. The team at Custom Foodscaping created a design to slow and store water running down their gentle front yard slope while creating an ecological edible landscape.

The solution, of course, was to build berms and swales!

Using earthmoving machines, the team dug ditches and shaped the excavated soil to create berms, which make a sort of obstacle course for water. When the water is interrupted by the berms, it slows the rate of flow and and adds ecological benefits as it seeps into the berms and irrigates the plants. In addition, the team created basins in the yard to expand the water-holding capacity of the system and provide an additional planting niche. 

Swap out traditional landscaping plants for foodscaping plants 

The team swapped out crab apples and Bradford Pears for the full foodscape menu: Native serviceberry trees, Pawpaw trees, Liberty apples, Nanking Cheries, Illinois Everbearing Mullberries plus loads of native pollinators in the rain garden.

Less driveway pooling, more edible abundance!