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grow in a drainage ditch?  RSS feed

 
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Hey guys and gals

New member here,

Ive been browsing these forums a little while and this seems like a good place for learning and getting advice, so here goes.

About a year ago I had a driveway etched out of a little under 12 acres of very beautiful land out in the country that i am very proud of.

Anyway the driveway goes up a hill about 700 ft before flattening out at the top of a hill and they did me the service of digging a ditch that runs along the

side of it to catch any drainage and it runs down to the creek and gets carried away.

Ok a year later and everything is doing great and grown back up the only problem is where they dug the ditch it seems nothing will establish and the ditch itself is

progressively getting deeper and deeper from the water cutting through it on the way down.

I would really like to figure out a good way to take care of this before it becomes a big problem to deal with..

any ideas??
 
steward
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Howdy Robert, welcome to permies!
First off here is another thread with links to several places that may help out.
http://www.permies.com/t/15497/homestead/Good-Road-Lies-Easy-Land

Is there a way to make the road ,and ditch, less steep? Can you move it?

How much water do you get?

Can you rerought some of that water?

 
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Rocks or chunks of concrete could slow the flow and present a hard surface that would erode slowly. Straw bales can be used but in a major rain, they might get washed away.

The whole thing could be lined with really rugged, rubble rock rip rap.(10 times fast) If the flow is strong enough to move rock, a gabion system could hold them in place. A series of gabion dams could slow the flow. Instead of a rushing river that wants to erode it's bed, you'd have a series of narrow ponds and waterfalls during heavy rain. Most of the erosive pressure would be at the base of each dam and waterfall. Big rubble rock beneath each falls would absorb much of the energy. Smaller gravel dumped near the top of the system would wash down and fill voids as required.

If there's a substantial amount of water at the top and a place to build a storage pond, some water could be saved for a rainless day. A small hydro project could be developed.

Swales could be dug along the slope and flood water drained into them through overflow at damming points.
 
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Hi Robert,

I'd be thinking about finding ways to use that water on your land before it is washed downstream. You haven't said anything about your climate conditions, which affects what you want to achieve with the water. In regions with wet and dry seasons you ultimately want to trap water on your land as high as possible, so you can irrigate if needed later in the year. Even if you don't want to store the rainfall you can improve the land considerably by giving the water an opportunity to soak in to your soil, rather than diverting it away as quickly as possible.

Dale seems to be a bit of an expert on hard ladscaping stuff (digging holes, moving rocks etc...) so definitely look into his suggestions for using rock to line the ditch and construct gabions. Gabions are essentially leaky dams - they slow and restrain storm water giving it more of a chance to soak in and lessening the erosion. A lot of sediment can be washed down stream in a major storm event and a lot of it will build up behind your gabion making a more level area and preventing your soil and nutrients washing into water courses.

Swales are also an excellent idea. You could make swales running on contour, branching off your drainage ditch to diver the water horizontally, rather than just charging down the slope. A gabion arrangement where the swale and ditch meet would probably be really effective. The swales fill in the storm then gradually percolate the water into the soil. They are really good for growing crops as they tend to have good soil water levels and not need additional irrigation.

If you made a swale on a very shallow gradient it could feed water into a larger pond for longer term storage and use (fish?).

Gabions used for flash flood water control - showing silt build up behind the check dams.




"better to have a series of small ponds than an incised stream"


Mike
 
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Michael Cox wrote:Swales are also an excellent idea. You could make swales running on contour, branching off your drainage ditch to diver the water horizontally, rather than just charging down the slope. A gabion arrangement where the swale and ditch meet would probably be really effective. The swales fill in the storm then gradually percolate the water into the soil. They are really good for growing crops as they tend to have good soil water levels and not need additional irrigation.



EXACTLY what I was going to say - Michael, you beat me to it!! Putting in mini-gabions to slow and redirect the water out into swales would really benefit the land. Basically you need to "slow and spread" that water or it will undercut the driveway.

I don't know if you have any space to plant something between the drive and the ditch, but bamboo is a great stabilizer in that type of situation. I believe geoff lawton uses "running" as opposed to "clumping" bamboo. You can find bamboo for most climates. It would also make a nice windbreak along that area.
 
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You want to stop the water from going into the ditch, by making the water soak into the ground before it get to the ditch.
Daikon radish roots which once they die leave4-7ft holes for water to soak into.
Mulching with leaf litter, straw, hay, woodchip, vine like grapes running on the ground etc
Random depression (big holes) all over the hill.
Swales
Sub soil ripper.

For the water that does make it to the ditch.
Use a channel to drain that water out at regular intervals, so that the volume and speed of the water never gets great.
You can send that water to swales/ponds/etc

To stop the erosion and establish vegetation.
A creeping plant/vine/bramble that starts outside of the ditch but can be directed into the ditch will cause the water to slow down, if you are lucky it might even self-root
 
Robert Lee
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Thank you all for the great ideas,

All of these suggestions seem helpful, a little here and a little there

I believe this land used to be part of an old farm and has
just not been worked for quite some time and there are alot
of little terraces as the hill goes up that are left over perhaps
from the tractors they used to use. I could easily divert the ditch into
these and use them as swales.

Eventually I want to use the left side of the hill for goats to run on.

Diakon radishes at key points would be great for soaking up water

In the near future I am going build a house and move out here.
It is beautiful land with alot of potential.

Here are a couple of pictures that I found (as you can see the bridge I had put in got washed out I filled the one side with concrete
and am planning on running some culverts on the other side and cover with concrete once the weather gets a little better)

Thanks again for the ideas
land-12.jpg
[Thumbnail for land-12.jpg]
bridge-10.jpg
[Thumbnail for bridge-10.jpg]
 
Dale Hodgins
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I was expecting it to be steeper. I think I see Scotch broom, which means that these slopes are thirsty most of the time. It looks like the top has space for a pond. You could go for one that permanently holds water or if your ground is very porous, it could be a temporary leach pit. This would hydrate the hillside and possibly result in the creation of a spring further down. If a few feet of wood waste and other organics were placed in the bottom, you'd have a well watered hugelkultur that receives a new layer of sediment regularly.

Swales could radiate from both sides of the road. Rather than leading somewhere, they could come to a dead end. Overflow at the damming point would flood the swale a few inches deep, but never enough to go over the crest and cause erosion. Water and debris running down the slope would also gather in the swales. After the rainy season, sediment that has gathered in the flat portions of the ditch could be heaped up onto the dams, so that any summer runoff is completely diverted into the swales.
 
Robert Lee
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I was just watching one of Geoff Lawton's videos where he was discussing keyline design and had a sort of epiphany! Those areas that I thought were some kind of terrace left over from tractor I believe are actually keylines etched out from water flowing down perpendicular to the driveway. In that case then yes, I can dam them up at key points this would be great war to significantly reduce the amount of water runoff flowing down from the ditch and hydrate the land. I apologize for the lengthy absence. but thought I would share this with you guys. Thanks again for the advice and i will be going over again some more of those videos for help in setting this up.
 
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I'm growing mushrooms in my irrigation ditches now. I would imagine large, chunky wood inoculated with mushrooms would slow water down in a high erosion system. Here's a video of me picking up my logs but getting carried away interviewing my source. At the end of the video there are a couple of video pans of the new logs in the ditches. It is winter, so it's a little scrubby looking, but the view is better. I never water my plants, so passive water management using created land features is really important to me. It's all about keeping the water level and/or slowing it down with obstruction. Slow water is better than fast water.

I'm not a huge survey the land and make sure it's on contour guy. I'm a play with a shovel in the rain kind of guy. If you watch the water close enough and play with it while it's flowing, you'll know what to do.

I'm sure you could plant something like cat tails as well, but it would be a good idea to build in your water slowing land features before thinking about adding plants. Think like a beaver. When you have wood (or rocks) getting in the way of water flow, litter, branches, sticks, silt, soil etc. will catch. Plantings would be more likely to survive in this case.

Good luck.
 
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