standing water

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  #1  
Old 10-16-00, 05:31 AM
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Question

We have an area in our backyard that collects water. It is at the base of a hill on one side with our house on the other side. All areas slope upwards from there. What is the best way to dissipate the water? We are thinking about putting a vegetable garden there also, if we can fix that drainage problem. Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-17-00, 05:58 AM
Ladybug
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There are some drainage options but almost all depend on having some place to drain the water off to except for one. A French drain (surface or sub-surface style) or a catch basin would require a place to run the water to.

A dry well is basically a holding well to drain water into and from there it is supposed to allow the water to percolate on down into the subsoil. This is a hole filled with rocks, grate on top, that catches run-off. The problem with these is that they fill up with silt and debris and need to be cleaned out. A total pain especially since you wish to put a garden in there and will have disturbed soil which can move with the run-off.

You can enter French drain in your search engine to get an idea of what they are. For a definitive explanation of various drainage systems, illustrations, minimum slope required, etc. pop on over to your local garden center or big box store and look for an Ortho Book called All About Landscaping. Check out pp. 85-88 Step 3: Install Drainage System. If they don't have a copy go to your local library. They should have one or can get through inter-library loan.

Now we think out of the box. Since what you have described "all areas slope upwards from there" I am envisioning an area with no drainage exit. Heavy rain, snow melt, etc. can put a lot of water in there in a hurry.

Have you thought about not putting your garden in that location? Terracing is an option. Also, a garden that is not a conventional, traditional, plants in rows garden! You'll be surprised just how much you can raise in a square foot if you don't plant in rows.

Go to your local library and check out a book called "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. In just one 4'x4' block you can raise 12 plants of leaf lettuce, 16 carrots, 16 beets, 24 bunches beet greens, 6 pounds beans, 16 radishes, 16 onions, and a continuous harvest of Swiss chard + chives + marigolds and nasturtiums + tomatoes + cucumbers throughout the summer. Note: That is only in "one" 4'x4' block.

A Square Foot Garden for a family of four only requires an area 10'x10' or 10'x16' if it includes larger plants. For canning and freezing quantities put in a 4'x4' square and fill it with one variety. A square of corn would produce approx. 25 ears, onions - 25 lbs., bush beans - 35 lbs, etc.

I've tried this method and boy does it work. Plus your work load is reduced to nothing. Takes about 5 minutes "or less" to weed a 4'x4' area. Take a look at this book and you may never have a large garden or conventional garden again. Took mine out years ago and I live on 23 acres with a Troy Built tiller that has sat idle because I don't need it. Love the ease, no work, large harvest, small space, etc. No more long hours planting, weeding, hoeing. It's actually fun again!!!!
 
  #3  
Old 10-17-00, 08:06 PM
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Lightbulb

You mention having to clean out the dry well from time to time. How frequently are we talking? I live in Virginia with clay soil and I could put a sock on the corrugated pipe leading to the drywell. My options are pretty limited otherwise.


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Ladybug:
There are some drainage options but almost all depend on having some place to drain the water off to except for one. A French drain (surface or sub-surface style) or a catch basin would require a place to run the water to.

A dry well is basically a holding well to drain water into and from there it is supposed to allow the water to percolate on down into the subsoil. This is a hole filled with rocks, grate on top, that catches run-off. The problem with these is that they fill up with silt and debris and need to be cleaned out. A total pain especially since you wish to put a garden in there and will have disturbed soil which can move with the run-off.

You can enter French drain in your search engine to get an idea of what they are. For a definitive explanation of various drainage systems, illustrations, minimum slope required, etc. pop on over to your local garden center or big box store and look for an Ortho Book called All About Landscaping. Check out pp. 85-88 Step 3: Install Drainage System. If they don't have a copy go to your local library. They should have one or can get through inter-library loan.

Now we think out of the box. Since what you have described "all areas slope upwards from there" I am envisioning an area with no drainage exit. Heavy rain, snow melt, etc. can put a lot of water in there in a hurry.

Have you thought about not putting your garden in that location? Terracing is an option. Also, a garden that is not a conventional, traditional, plants in rows garden! You'll be surprised just how much you can raise in a square foot if you don't plant in rows.

Go to your local library and check out a book called "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. In just one 4'x4' block you can raise 12 plants of leaf lettuce, 16 carrots, 16 beets, 24 bunches beet greens, 6 pounds beans, 16 radishes, 16 onions, and a continuous harvest of Swiss chard + chives + marigolds and nasturtiums + tomatoes + cucumbers throughout the summer. Note: That is only in "one" 4'x4' block.

A Square Foot Garden for a family of four only requires an area 10'x10' or 10'x16' if it includes larger plants. For canning and freezing quantities put in a 4'x4' square and fill it with one variety. A square of corn would produce approx. 25 ears, onions - 25 lbs., bush beans - 35 lbs, etc.

I've tried this method and boy does it work. Plus your work load is reduced to nothing. Takes about 5 minutes "or less" to weed a 4'x4' area. Take a look at this book and you may never have a large garden or conventional garden again. Took mine out years ago and I live on 23 acres with a Troy Built tiller that has sat idle because I don't need it. Love the ease, no work, large harvest, small space, etc. No more long hours planting, weeding, hoeing. It's actually fun again!!!!
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

 
  #4  
Old 10-18-00, 05:22 AM
Ladybug
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How often is one of those "it depends" answers which, unfortunately, is no answer at all. Given your clay soil I "highly" doubt the dry well will work as it will take too long for water to drain out of it. Sometimes the lay of the land and soil type dictates to us where we can or cannot garden and there isn't a whole lot we can do about it.

May I make a suggestion that will get you in contact with someone in your area who is knowledgeable about your soil, climate, and gardening under your conditions? Call your local Cooperative Extension Service. They are in the phone book under county. The entry usually begins with the initials of your state's land grant college/university.

The Extension Service has a program called Master Gardeners. These are local, experience gardeners who have special training in assisting home gardeners with gardening problems. These are great people and well trained. The service is free as it has already been paid for by your tax dollars.

The Master Gardeners are all volunteers with experience gardening in your area, training, and knowledge specifically with regard to your climate, soil, etc.

The second option is to call a registered landscape architect. They specifically deal with "hardscape" issues. They too are local and knowledgeable about your soil, climate, etc. You could schedule a 1 hr visit/consultation with one who should be able to take a look at your site and tell you what your realistic options are.

I don't know what the hourly rate is for a landscape architect in your area but a quick phone call should tell you. A little money spent now might be worth it to get good advice as opposed to spending hours installing a system that does not do the job and you're back to the original problem.

To me, putting in all that physical effort and money into a system that turns out not to work would be maddening. Talk to some local people in your area. Even people at a locally owned nursery (not big box store nursery) will be able to give you some ideas. They garden in your area too with the same soil, climate, etc. that you have. Someone there may have encountered a problem similar to yours and figured out a solution.

Best - Ladybug
 
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