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dealing with a high water table
Hey everyone.

so we are looking into a peice of property out here on the islands and need some advice from people with experiance dealing with high water table areas.

[im not sure if i put this threadt in the right section ]

My experiance has only ever been with areas needing more water. not less.
in the summer the lot is so dry, minus a pond in the back section.
but the 2meter ditches dry out.
so i nkow i need to work on catching more water in the ground for our summer drought but not sure how to deal with winter flooding.

my ideas are creating a couple large vehicle worthy swales and filling them with large cobblestones and pea gravel.
also having numerous wetlands and ponds.
have thought also about builing up on top of the soil with lasanga mulch vs digging swales.

would people in this situation use more of a slight graded diversion tactic at various points on the land?

this lot is 4.44 acres.

I am also wondering if i have more water loving plants if that will help with the problem or make it worse?

like i said this is new territory and any advice and.or knowledge would be awesmoe!!!

[i hope my thread is clear, i think sometimes my thoughts get lost before they reach my fingertips and i babble a bit ]


Also I am a little worried about having humare turned anarobic because of the excess water runoff.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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we have a similar situation here, not only a super high water table, but we also get the summer droughts where it can be months with hardly any rain..occasionally we get a rainy year.

we have had 2 years of drought here so it is about 3' below normal water table, which is generally around 6 to 12" below the surface in most places..

before our housefire we had a basement and had a sump pump that ran constantly.

after the housefire we built our crawlspace above grade and put the house up 4' from the normal grade..our new drainfield is up 4' above grade and quite large..we also had a really low wet spot fairly near to our new house, so we had the contractors scrape the topsoil and sand off of the clay base of the low spot which formed a very shallow pond and we used the mix of top soil sand and clay scrapings to fill in the grade around our drainfield, and planted that wiht mixed beds of fruit trees, shrubs and perennial flower and herbs.

the pond would dry out every summer, so our son dug a huge hole as deep as he could reach with the backhoe in it when it was dry..that hole was about 6' deeper than the rest of the pond and it never went dry..even in 2 year drought, although it did go down a lot. So this year we rented a backhoe and we dug a large area of the pond out deeper, and must have hit a very slow spring, as it is fillinig up even without rain...but isn't full yet. We are hoping that the entire pond will hold water all year, but we do have a shallow area that will probably turn into a bog garden rather than actual pond.

we sloped most of the close yards of our and oru son's house toward the pond and used buried french drains to bring in some of the excess water and our gutter drain. the county put in a drain that cuts our property in half, that runs from a swamp/pond area near the road north through our field and through the woods to another swamp that drains into a small creek..our pond is next to htis drain. we haven't put in a flowing well yet to the pond as we want to see how well it fills next year..but when we do it will overflow into this ditch. Our wooded area ..3 acres north on ours and a couple on our son's property, has swampy areas and dry areas..as some areas are low and some are higher up..we have been building trails through our nearby woods and hope to get trails through the deeper farther woods in the near future..you can see a lot of what we have done so far on the blog in my signature below..go to the trails and gardens pages
 
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I consider you to be blessed if you have a high water table!  So much easier to construct ponds which actually contain water! 

Here's a garden for high water table:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugFd1JdFaE0

Another design which drains water to a pond:  http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/5553_0/permaculture/bowl-terraces

Moist areas are SO productive of food, if we can learn to eat the plants that grow there.  Something like 10X the amount of food can be produced by wetland plants compared to dryland plants, per land unit. 

Some edible wetland plants:  http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=79
 
                                              
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wow. thanx for all the info guys
this definatly gives me some better insite.

oh and to be clear. our dry season is at least 3 months long where is does not rain one.
then the month b4 and after get a bit of rain but it dries up quick.
and our winters are a turencial downpour.

thanx
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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You might also find this website helpful to manage the wet/dry issue (same as I have to deal with - drought or flood):  http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/
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I deal with a high water table also. I explained my situation here: http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=5393.msg46456#msg46456
 
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Many wetlands I have visited have a very hummocky terrain.  Often there are old stumps with salal or red huckleberry in the middle of a pool.  I have found sedge on floating logs.  Within a vertical foot you can have three or four different moisture regimes.  When you try out plants, consciously put them at different elevations. 

I think Leucaena's use of a well to view water table is a good tried and true approach.  It is a little easier to see down a larger pipe with a flashlight, but then you need to dig the hole.  The anaerobic zone can be a foot above the water table depending on soil texture and capillary rise.
 
gardener
Posts: 965
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I think you have the right idea with putting in swales. I've seen pretty dramatic before and after photo's of swales put in areas  with standing water. Even on relatively flat ground a well placed swale can eliminate this from happening.

Also, consider spillways where water is extremely excessive. This will divert surface and some ground water away from the areas downslope. Its a swale that is NOT level on countour but slightly off. This placement  is so that it channels water down the length of the swale and NOT into the berm next to it.

Near my house we've planted a bit of a forest garden. It is sloped gently and at the bottom of the hill where the water table is REALLY high I planted trees in mounds that were about 2.5 to 3 feet high which sank to about 1.5 feet by now. My neighbour says he's tried growing cherry trees in this area several times with no success. Now, its only been a year for me but I planted a cherry tree in this described bottomland area and it produced fruit already, and had dark green disease free lush foliage.
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Trees can sometimes lower the water table to a very noticeable degree. Depends on the local flow patterns.

I have heard stories about land owners around me with pine plantation. If they decide to sell the land and they harvest the timber before hand, they can often turn the land into wetlands - without a heavy stand of pine to pull water up and evapo-transpirate it, the land becomes much wetter, the soil changes to a wetland soil, wetland plants start to appear, and buyers become less interested due to restrictions on the land.

There is also concern in more southern regions of Florida about melaleuca and other species 'invading' the glades and drying them out.

Tile drainage is going to be quicker but more expensive. 
 
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