Hugelkultur beds, part 2

The basics behind the hugelkultur technique as we practice it are covered in the hugelkultur part 1 post.

Here we will cover the technique on a large scale. When developing a large area for planting, excavation equipment is very helpful to get the site prepped quickly and in a consistent manner.

We were fortunate in getting a break in the Oregon winter rains for several weeks, which made it easier to hire an excavator with a backhoe/loader to come in and work with us to install our hugelkultur row beds.

Here we are getting started with the first one:

Each trench is about 4 feet wide and one foot deep. Below this point the clay/loam topsoil quickly turns to nearly pure clay which we would rather avoid. Once again, the excavated soil is piled on the downhill side of the trench. Each bed ranges between 100 and 120 feet in length.

Here is the completed trench for the second row bed:

Further down the slope around the home-site, the main orchard site will be composed of 5 long rows, generally following contour, but with some slope to the south (downhill) to prevent severe water-logging during the wettest months. Each row is spaced approximately 15 feet apart, on center.

Here is the general layout before starting excavation with some of the brush and logs that were cut during the clearing to open up the area:

The trench for the first contour bed of the orchard:

The freshly cut logs, branches and some good sized oak and madrone stumps were placed at the bottom of the trenches as they were dug:

Older and rotten branches and logs were placed on top of more intact wood to finish filling up the trenches to just above ground level:

Once all of the trenches were filled in with the organic material, the majority of the excavated topsoil was placed on top of the rotten wood. A bit of extra soil was left on the downhill side of the mounded bed to provide some extra depth for the soon-to-be-planted trees.


A slight dip was left on the uphill side of the beds to make it easier for any water run-off to sink in to the beds and begin soaking the logs.

Once the excavator was finished, all that was left was some clean up to bury and logs or branches as best we can. Some of the biggest stumps will stick up above the dirt. These will be buried in leaf litter to help them retain moisture as they rot over the years.

Planting the beds is next!

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4 Responses to Hugelkultur beds, part 2

  1. MMC says:

    thanks for this. I am pursuing this system.

  2. Rose says:

    Thank you for the detailed description with pictures. Very helpful.

  3. Rose says:

    P.S. I looked for updated pictures of your hugelkultur beds and did not find any….. Do you have some on your blog? Would love to hear how things have been doing…
    Blessings-Rose

    • Hello – thank you for the kind words!

      The hugelkultur beds have performed very well for us. There are pic’s scattered across different blog posts, but I think you are correct… It may be time for a “part 3″ post now that we have put the gardens/orchard to bed for the season. stay tuned :)

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