How do I build a berm


Old 07-20-06, 06:29 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2
How do I build a berm

I need to build a berm to divert water from overcoming my lawn and septic field everytime it rains.

Can anyone give me some guidelines on the best way to build a berm that will last forever?

It will be between the tree-line and septic field, so heavy equipment (ie a Bobcat) cannot get in there.

It needs to be able to handle a lot of water cause we're at the bottom of the neighborhood and it's all rushing to get to the creek that is on the other side of our house.

It will be about 150ft long and about 2ft high.

Any suggestions about:
the material I should use?
how to compact it without heavy equipment?
what ground cover should I use to prevent erosion?


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Old 07-20-06, 10:26 AM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
Posts: 1,716
Hi Cash,

In most communities it is illegal to discharge water runoff onto someone else's property. You don't say where you will be channeling the water to. I would suggest that you contact your local county or city for help and guidance as to the best approach for your situation. I would also think a dry streambed might work better then a berm which could suffer from erosion as the water flows through.

You could also do a google with terms such as:
yard drainage + your state

Old 07-20-06, 01:05 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by Newt
Hi Cash,

In most communities it is illegal to discharge water runoff onto someone else's property.
I think someone needs to tell my neighbors that! I'll be diverting it to the front of my property into the drainage culvert by the road, and then it flows to the creek on my property, so noworries there.

I've already had the county people out and because of the septic field and tree line, a french drain is out of the question and anyway it wouldn't be able to handle the water. They said that a berm would be the best. I just need to know if there's anything special I should do other than pile up the dirt (I'm in NC, so the dirt is clay) and tamp it down real good.

Old 07-20-06, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,128
How do I build a berm

Building with clay should be OK.

Since you are re-directing and concentrating the flow, the water could be a little higher and more violent during a big storm.

Contact your county for recommendations on deep rooted grasses to us in an application like this. The right grass should do the job.

I you get REALLLY heavy flows, you can use a "grasspaver" which is a grid-like block (16x24) that has openings for grass to grow in. There are frequently used in erosion control and become almost invisable when the grass. I saw an application where they were put in for emergency fire truck access - after a year or two of mowing and fetilizing, they could not find it. They are also used on the Outer Banks for shoulders wher the sand blows and they need suport. If you need them you might find them at Adams Products/Oldcastle in NC.

Good luck.

Old 07-20-06, 10:56 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: united states
Posts: 98
berm building

A bobcat equipped with "tracks" is what many septic system installers use to backfil and smooth out the soil they've disturbed. This type of machine would make you task worlds easier to accomplish and still be safe to use. (The "tracts" i'm referring to look similar to bull dozer tracts but they are mounted over the bobcat wheels, this distributes the machines' weight over a much larger area)

Clay soil would be a good choice for a sturdy berm. I live in central NC and am very familiar with clay soil.

Probably the biggest issue you will face is how wide to make your berm. You'll want to be sure to make it wide enough that mowing will still be practical. You'll want to make sure the new berm is uniformly compacted before you work up the surface in preparation for seeding and fertilization. This is important so that after you get some rain soft spots wont develop that might wash out with additional rain.

Any of the new hybrid tall fescues should do well. They take a little longer to get established but when they are they require less feeding and watering and don't have to be cut quite so often.

A uniform covering of wheat staw mulch will help to prevent errosion while the grass is becoming established.

Since we are coming up on the textbook time of the year to plant tall fescue (early to mid fall) I hope you can hold off that long to do the work.

Best of luck with your project, 38 years in the business and still learning... Greensboro_man
Old 07-21-06, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: St. Louis Missouri
Posts: 247
The tracked Bobcat is a good suggestion. In case that is still too big for your area, there are smaller walk-behind versions of a tracked Bobcat that can fit areas as narrow as 36". The rental companies in my area have those, don't know about your area. Beats a shovel and wheelbarrow.
Old 07-21-06, 12:22 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Maryland zone 7
Posts: 1,716
Do a google search with the term:
build + berm

You can also click on 'Images' for pics.

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