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Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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I recently made several large raised beds...some of them 50+ feet in length. I built them by digging out the foot paths and piling the dirt up adjacent to form several rows of raised beds. However, I over looked the fact that they were not on contour and now a single rain event foods the foot paths very severely. My original plan was to fill up the foot paths with 6-10" of wood chips but now there is too much water. it does drain but very very slowly. It usually rains again before they have a chance to drain. Any suggestions on what I can do to fix this problem. I was going to try to move all that dirt to reorient the beds more to contour, however, now it will be hard to find contour with all those mounds of dirt. please help
 
Dave Burton
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Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
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Well, the area could be re-flattened by pushing the soil back into the footpaths. Then, recalculate contours and place it all on contour.

Maybe drainage ditches could be dug through the area to divert the water to a proper swale. Then, rocks could be placed in the ditches and footpaths to mitigate the possible erosion from large water events.

Your idea of mulching the footpaths sounds like a constructive way of returning the footpaths to level land on level with the rest of the area.
 
Adam Buchler
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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Dave Burton wrote:Well, the area could be re-flattened by pushing the soil back into the footpaths. Then, recalculate contours and place it all on contour.

Maybe drainage ditches could be dug through the area to divert the water to a proper swale. Then, rocks could be placed in the ditches and footpaths to mitigate the possible erosion from large water events.

Your idea of mulching the footpaths sounds like a constructive way of returning the footpaths to level land on level with the rest of the area.


Yea I guess if I filled the footpaths slightly above grade with woodchips that could prevent my feet from getting wet in the days following a rain event. I'm just hoping a rain wont pick up those wood chips and carry them away in those areas
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
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The foot paths are filling up and holding water? Not running like streams and eroding the edges of the beds? And holding water for how many days? I don't know how often you are getting rain, so "until the next rain" doesn't mean much to me

Your description makes it sound as though the paths are pretty much on contour, otherwise the water would be flowing, not standing, right?
I don't think putting them on contour would help the condition you are finding, since swales on contour hold water.

What is your soil like? I am going to guess it has a fair bit of clay, or you would have faster infiltration. What is it like 18 inches below the surface? Wondering if you can get down through the clay (or possibly just compaction, depending on history of the site) to a subsoil that will allow better drainage.

If the subsoil is something of a looser, more readily draining variety, then taking a broadfork, or just a breaker bar, to the paths and punching some holes down to that layer would probably help a great deal.
 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I had a very similar experience in a previous garden. Totally straight beds about 50' in length, heavy clay, and the paths filled with water. Before dogging the beds, I had a problem where the soil would stay waterlogged for many says after rain due to the clay. Immediately after digging my ruler - straight beds, I realized I could have put them on contour.

The garden was situated in a flat spot between a slope and a river bank. I never had a problem directly related to my beds not being on contour, and the fact that they were significantly raised meant they were dryer than before. When the foot paths turned to canals, the water seeped in over a period of days and helped to irrigate, and I I didn't have any access to plumbing.

I guess you could say it all worked out. Don't fret it too much. I'd say see how it goes before doing it all over again! Good luck
 
Joshua Morgan
Posts: 8
Location: Oklahoma
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Adam Buchler wrote:I recently made several large raised beds...some of them 50+ feet in length. I built them by digging out the foot paths and piling the dirt up adjacent to form several rows of raised beds. However, I over looked the fact that they were not on contour and now a single rain event foods the foot paths very severely. My original plan was to fill up the foot paths with 6-10" of wood chips but now there is too much water. it does drain but very very slowly. It usually rains again before they have a chance to drain. Any suggestions on what I can do to fix this problem. I was going to try to move all that dirt to reorient the beds more to contour, however, now it will be hard to find contour with all those mounds of dirt. please help



I would leave it as is, put some mulch in them anyway and get some waders. All it should do is water your garden for you slowly. If you really don't want it anyway just take a long drill bit and drill down the center of the bottom, hopefully you will get through the compacted/clay area and it will drain.
Over time with mulch in the bottom the problem will solve itself.

I recently done the same in a super flat area that was once part of a hay field but never had problems with it standing water. I don't think there's much contour where I put them if any.

You could also dig a deeper area near it as a small pond and run a pipe underground to your paths to it so they drain into the pond and in heavy rain events when the pond overflowed it would go into your gardens and keep them watered for you.

I still think you should leave them and consider them miniature chinampas.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1357
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Leave it as is.
Dig a pond and then dig a ditch from the walkway to the pond. Or get a huge kiddy pool and a pump to pump the water in the walkway into the kiddy pool.
 
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