I'm in Northern California and have a half acre of almost solid clay soil, and its flat. Super flat. I bought the place about a year ago, and as we've been having a drought for the past 2 years, I haven't seen much rain in my yard. However, this last storm was about 8 inches and my entire yard is a standing 4-7 inches of water. Its raining as I type, so I have no idea how long it will take to drain, but based on having to fill post holes in order to soften the soil to dig, I know it won't be fast.
Thankfully, neighbors had warned us the yard flooded, so we started to create some raised boxed beds for the finer veggies (with outside good draining compost) and planted the fruittrees on mounds.
I'm in desperate need for ideas for how to contour the land in either swales or a series of ditches to a catchment ponds? Or creating channels for the water to drain into instead of floating away my path mulch? Or some other ideas? I'm dealing not only with the falling rain but also my house run-off (planning on doing a storage tank soon for the rain water off the house but one storm in my area will fill it and I need a plan for the overflow) and two sides of the neighbors non-permeable driveway.
I've added a pic of what I'm dealing with. As you can see, my cover crop that I planted to break up the clay and add some organic matter is now more like a rice paddy. Despite this rainfall, we are still in a drought so I want to make sure all water possible gets back in my ground to replenish my well. I'd like the solution to be something to handle minor rain and major rain, like this.
One thing I do is core aeration. My yard is a very compacted silt. The aeration pulls out about 10 plugs (2" to 3" long) per square foot. I started this spring, and also did one in the fall. When my compost is ready I plan to lightly rake it out filling the plug holes with a more earthworm friendly soil.
I'm hoping it improves the absorbtion and water retention in my yard.
I know their are differing schools of thought on core aeration, but I think it is a tool that can help certain problems.
Aerate or decompact the rest. Core aerator, subsoiler, daikon-use what you want or can get. Spread sand or compost or gypsum to fill in the holes with good stuff.
It is not an instant fix, it will take a couple years of repeated treatment, but it will get better.
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