Preparing for the Monsoon Rains: Arroyo Stabilization

A number of small arroyos along Painted Pony Road contribute to road damage when the monsoons arrive.  By funneling water onto the road during a rain storm, it erodes the surface and leaves the corner a muddy mess.  To mitigate this problem tumbleweed garlands were created last year and placed in a number of arroyos along with check dams in an attempt to slow the water, rebuild the arroyos, and protect the road.  The only problem last year were the cattle, which ate many of the tumbleweed garlands mistaking them for brightly wrapped feed.  But this year the cattle stayed away from the road (fencing helps) and a new crop of tumbleweed was ready for harvest.  Tumbleweed growing along the flanks of the river bed was harvested and again wrapped with twine to create long garlands.  These were then placed in the problem arroyos on the upslope side of the road.  The check dams were then reinforced with new rock bringing the heights above last years collected sediment.  Although a slow process, this method of filling in small arroyos helps with the yearly erosion problems and combined with a check dam along the outside corner of the road to catch additional sediment the corner is in much better condition.

Harvesting tumble weed for arroyo garlands.
The same arroyo as shown below with rock added to the check dam with installed tumble weed garland.
A problem arroyo early in the treatment phase.  Note small check dam.
Rock soil barrier at the corner of Painted Pony Road.  Note 2 layers of rock as the barrier stops sediment from eroding the barrier must be raised.


  1. We have oodles of rocks to use in such a fashion. [and we do] I have pulled tumbleweed up on our property, hopefully its gone although down the hill from here. I never heard of 'tumbleweed garlands'
    You are a font of information!

  2. No shortage of rocks in the valley that's for sure. The tumbleweed garlands are an attempt to use the resource for something productive. Since when dry tumbleweeds "tumble" tying them together into a garland then placing placing them in an arroyo keeps them from blowing away and provides biomass to catch sediment and slows the water flow. In combination with small check dams it is possible to keep soil from moving downstream.