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Constructed Wetland

In May 2018 I was invited to work in Western Australia, which was quite the milestone for me, as it was the last state in Australia for me to say I’ve worked nation wide in permaculture design and installation. It was meant to be a short trip, only 5 days, to repair a leaky dam, which seemed a bit odd for me to fly from the east coast to the west coast for this, but as this is my only source of income I jumped at the chance.

So, I flew over, hired the excavator and proceeded in the dam repair.

Before and After













While I was doing the job, my client asked what could be done in the section below the dam, I recommended a constructed wetlands based on Peter Andrews system of creating a chain of ponds in water courses, but this was a little different as it was down the side of a ridge and not in the natural water course.

To be truthful I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. To complicate things more, when I did some test holes for the ponds there was no clay, and the spillways would be on the walls of the ponds, something I’ve never done and something we teach never to do when talking about permaculture earthworks construction, (we never place spillways on un-original ground). Meaning, spillways should always be on original ground as they are stable and ideally covered in vegetation .

There was a lot of iron stone rock which I think was pushed out of a large dam situated above the dam I was working on, so I thought I could use this material to place on the spillways. There was also an earth berm created from the larger dam construction to steer the over flow down the side of the ridge which was clay. So, in the end I had the makings of the system on site.

As always there’s a first for everything and this was my first try at creating a chain of ponds or constructed wetland.


Below are a Series of Photos of the Construction Process


The all important seeding mulching and planting going on






I will be running a 5 day Permaculture Earthworks course in Portugal on the 3rd of June, please click the link below for more information.




David Spicer

David Spicer’s approach to design and education is based upon a proven emphasis on practicality, having over 18 years experience in Permaculture education working and teaching with Bill Mollison at the Permaculture Institute (Tasmania) and Geoff Lawton, the managing director of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and Zaytuna Farm. He is renowned for his ability to explain concepts and ideas simply, conveying the basics. David previously worked as farm manager of the renowned Tagari Farm and Zaytuna Farm in northern New South Wales. He has taught and worked extensively within Australia and internationally on various projects, covering six Australian states, Morocco, Jordan, New Caledonia and Palestine covering a broad array of different climate zones. David is a valued member of the team headed up by Geoff Lawton. He has the distinction of being Registered Teacher #5 with the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. David currently serves as Lead Consultant and Educator for


  1. Wow, the impact that had been made with the cascading dam system on the land is marvelous! Reviewing the YouTube clip, you wouldn’t even realise that the system wasn’t naturally created.

  2. This is wonderful! Great job. I have studied Peter Andrews and it looks like you have done a fine job. You should be proud of yourself. I saw just two tiny baby trees in your video, and was wondering if the Landowner were going to also plant water companion species like Weeping Willows and reeds etc. Very exciting.

  3. Gday Lisa thanks I am quite proud, I think it’s my most beautiful work so far. There was about 150 tube stock natives planted out in the wetland as well as around 500 lomandra, when I say inspired by Peters work its more the form or the concept of the ponds and not the whole system Peter developed the client was after wildlife habitat and something they can see as they as they cross the larger dam wall. I hope that answers your question.

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