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I am on a steep (100ft clime driveway).  I cannot let the water just run down the hill because it floods the neighbor homes, so ditches are out.  I am thinking of using old tires set at ground level.  They would be filled about 1/3 with clay mixed with lime.  Using part of what I will have to dig out of the drive.  I have been told that the lime will make the clay harder but not waterproof.  It will also help with weed control.  The rest of the tire will be filled with rocks of all sizes, smaller ones around the sidewall and a big one in the middle.  In the foothills of the Smokie Mountains you have rock with a little soil, so my strainer will be used every time I must dig. 
I have a trailer with a ramp made of expanded steal.  I can take the ramp off the back of the trailer and set it on top; the dirt dug up will be put on the ramp, now a strainer, a sheet of ply to hold the dirt in the trailer and I can use my mini-backhoe to lift the ramp and dump the rock into the tires.  As the rock packs the tires will bulge; you get better traction rubber to rubber than rubber on loose rock. 
I would have to stager the tires as you would brick.  This would leave the outer edge uneven, so I plan to leave the tires that extend the farthest out a bit higher.  This will trap the water running downhill long enough for it to sink into the ground or over the sidewall and down into the tire. 
I like the idea of using carpet but I am not sure if it will be needed with the lime. 
It seams like a natural solution to me but taking into consideration that I have NO training and NO education I am probably overlooking something.  But What?         
 
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I cannot let the water just run down the hill because it floods the neighbor homes, so ditches are out. 

  So, if I'm understanding you correctly, your goal is to have the rain water infiltrate on the driveway, and not run off?  If that is the case then you will probably want to have a lot more rock and less clay and lime.  In fact, I would think that having clay and lime involved might be quite contrary to your purposes.  The rounder the rocks, the better the drainage.  Add a layer of rougher rock near the surface for traction if you like.  I would go with straight rocks. 

I've never heard of someone using tires for such a purpose.  Beyond the obvious issues that people might have with using tires (primarily toxic degradation when exposed to sunlight and air), I will mention a few things that immediately come to mind.  You will want to have all the same size tires so that they make your staggered brickwork easier and create a relatively level road surface.  

This water has to go somewhere.  Even if it infiltrates, it will still likely be moving down the driveway (which is a compacted off contour slope---a ditch).  There is nothing (no trees or vegetation) besides the land beneath the tires is dealing with this water, which will be moving downslope, hopefully deeper than shallower.  You may end up with water flowing under your tire layer.  ??    The water will potentially come up in springs in your neighbor's property anyway.  

It's hard to wrap my brain around your situation, where your driveway goes up from your neighbors' property/homes; where is the public road?   Is there no ditch on the road there to accommodate the water from your driveway?  There must be an easier way to deflect your flow of water, if not to a useful end, then at least to a non-destructive one.  Is there forest on the sides of your driveway?  Can you trench off to the side to deflect the flow into vegetation?  What sort of rainfall are we talking about in your location?

More information on the basic layout of the site (and adjacent properties and road runoff infrastructure) would be beneficial to getting good advice from myself or others.  
 
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The first problem with building such a road will be washout. Clay roads become slick as ice when wet, vehicles don't behave well on ice, they slip, slide and end up in a ditch or hit a tree or other immovable object.
When you build a road, you want the water to leave that surface so that the road remains passable, trying to soak water into a road is asking for disaster to strike.
You don't want to build any structure that holds water on the road surface, that creates erosion of the road surface and the road bed suffers then it fails.
 
pollinator
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There is not really enough information here to make a recommendation, because I am not sure of where you live or the laws thereof. Still it sounds like you live in an existing house with a steep driveway?

Typically in surveying, "steep" is referred to in grade percentages, not as a 100 foot climb. For instance if your driveway is a 1000 feet long, and it has 100 feet of elevation, it has a 10% grade. This is VERY steep for roads. Most roads get hill signs posted for trucks when they get to 5%-7%. So when you say a "100 foot climb driveway", I am not sure if it is 100 feet in total vertical elevation, it has a section that is 100 feet long that is very steep, or the driveway is 100 feet long and just steep.

In any case, ASSUMING you have an existing driveway and are getting water issues running down the driveway, you must realize a few things. First you have a right-of-way and as such you have a right to keep your driveway in tact by forming ditches. You will have to consult your deed to see how wide it is, but should be 25 feet wide or more. I have found 24 feet of width allows me to form some nice V-ditches and a 12 foot width for the roadway. There really is no way around ditches. That does not however mean you can discharge water onto another's neighbor land negatively, but there are many ways to mitigate that.

In fact it is pretty simple. IF the driveway goes straight up and down the hill, putting rock check dams in is a low cost, permanent way to slow down the water in the ditches and prevent erosion. At the bottom of the hill the water can be diverted into discharge areas that limit erosion and slow down the flow even in high water events like rain or melting snow.

If the driveway goes sideways across a hill the driveway can be insloped, or pitched so that it leans a bit to the inside of the hill. Here a ditch channels the water, and slows it down occasionally by rock dams, but the best thing is, the water can be allowed to flow down the ditch until it can be safely brought across the road via culverts and discharged on your neighbors land where it will not do any damage. Again in a discharge area that dissipates the flow of water appropriately.

Still you are not done quite yet. Because of the steepness of the driveway, it is inevitable that water willrun down the length of the road to some degree even if it is crowned, or is outsloped. Think of it like water running down, and towards the ditches at a 45 degree angle. Over times wheel tracks will make it even worse as water might follow them instead of getting to the ditch, so water will start to erode your driveway. To stop this rubber razors, open top culverts or water bars are installed. Of these, water bars are free because it is just rearranging the surface gravel of the drive. DO NOT USE LIME OR CLAY. Ever so often install a water bar so that the water is diverted at a 30 degree off to the side of the drive and into the ditch. When it terminates, put in a rock check dam so the water does not erode the ditch.  It really sounds complicated, but it is not...and I have a picture to help you out.

This is a logging road I made this summer. It does not look it, but this road has a 9% grade and also has (4) water bars, though only one is seen in the photo. Because it goes straight up and down the hill, it has ditches on each side, and rock check dams to stop erosion. In the last few weeks we have got some 4 " rain storms and it has kept anything from eroding. It is a pain though to roll over them with a car or tractor, but if you do not get snow, you might consider rubber razors, or open top culverts. These work well, but can get ripped out by snowplows.


Close-Up-Dirt-Road.jpg
[Thumbnail for Close-Up-Dirt-Road.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote:There is not really enough information here to make a recommendation, because I am not sure of where you live or the laws thereof. Still it sounds like you live in an existing house with a steep driveway?



I agree with Travis.  Maybe some photos or google maps might help.  The others have also given you good advice.

Stefanie Chandler wrote:I am on a steep (100ft clime driveway).  I cannot let the water just run down the hill because it floods the neighbor homes, ...
It seams like a natural solution to me but taking into consideration that I have NO training and NO education I am probably overlooking something.  But What?         



My concern would be the liability issues if something causes the tires to break loose during a torrential rain storm.  Would the tires be forced towards your neighbors houses or vehicles?

I would feel that you need to get help from local road builders that know what they are doing.

From this post, it seems like you have been dealing with this problem for three years ...

https://permies.com/t/34857/Loosing-ground

I wish you the best and hope you find a solution.
 
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Aside from all the questions about driveway construction and methods, ....

What is the point of permaculture? Even if your proposed solution worked great, eventually it would fail from tire degradation. And, degrading tires put all kinds of nasty stuff into the environment.  That is not good. And it certainly is not (my idea) of permaculture. For me, loving Earth, and caring for the environment, means considering the long term consequences of our actions. Just because we have little money or time or knowledge, doesn't mean we should do something. To call what we do "permaculture", we have to do better than that. For me, we have to consider the consequences of what we do now, -twenty years later. Or forty years. Or longer. Will our children's children have a mess to clean up someday because of what we did now? I hope not.
 
Travis Johnson
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I actually think she was thinking in terms of permaculture, as in thinking outside the box and in ways of using rammed earth tires like on certain green homes to provide a better driveway. I would not fault her for that at all. Ground up tires are used on some forms of road construction, but I am not sure that whole tires would work well on a driveway, but I think that has been covered too.


I just do not have a lot of information to go on in this situation.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I actually think she was thinking in terms of permaculture, as in thinking outside the box and in ways of using rammed earth tires like on certain green homes to provide a better driveway. I would not fault her for that at all. Ground up tires are used on some forms of road construction, but I am not sure that whole tires would work well on a driveway, but I think that has been covered too.

  I agree with Travis, but I see where you are at too Jim.  Travis, in Permaculture, as far as following the teachings of the design science, it is based on the ethics of Earth Care and People Care.  Jim makes valid points, as do you.  There are indeed many things, including Earthships (of which Permies has a forum devoted) that use tires.  To add to the list you made, there are also roofing tiles made of recycled tires.  The best use I have for tires is harache sandals and other footwear. 
 
Stefanie Chandler
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First Thank all of you for trying to help. 
I live in Ten Mile Tennessee so clay will be a part of everything, including the stains on my carpet.  A tire is about 8 inches thick and they would be laid on their sides so we would have to have an 8 inch rain fall to fill the tires.  Once the water is inside the tire where can it go but down into the ground? I plan to put just enough dirt in each tire to stop the mosquitoes from breeding in the lower side wall and fill the rest with rock.  I have been told that you will get better traction tire on tire so this will help a stranded rear wheel drive car to get up the drive.  So far it has been "all wheel" or "4 wheel" drive only.  The drive is about 1/4 of a mile but most of the 100 ft clime is in the first 1/8 mile.  The drive ends at a paved road and the water just flows across.  The flooding is not just due to my drive all three homes across the street are in a flood zone as far as I can see, a creek behind them and all the water from the hills on the my side of the road.  I have 15 acres but there is a 12 acre plot and two 6 acre plots also.  Most of it runs off and into the three homes.  At 100 feet I am the highest home on my side of the road.  What Ninnie built those homes on that flood area I do not know. but I would like to help to minimize  the flooding. 
 
Stefanie Chandler
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P. S.  the tires go into the ground in the dump.  They are ground up and sold as mulch, not to me but to others.  they are ground up and used to cover playgrounds.  If we insist on using tires as we do, any way to reuse them I would think would be better than having them in a pile in the county dump.  
 
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I have been told that you will get better traction tire on tire so this will help a stranded rear wheel drive car to get up the drive.



It seems she wants to make the road out of tires. Stefanie, this is not going to work as specified with tires laid out like a descending retaining wall. Please don't find yourself with 1000 tires full of muck.

The reason is that the tires on a vehicle going up the road will rotate the tire on the ground, pulling the uphill side out of the ground. Even if you have another tire above that one, the weight of a tire full of stone/soil is nowhere near the rotational force of an ascending vehicle. Like a rounding error. Each tire could be secured deep into the ground to oppose that rotation but that seems like a lot of work, since they will degrade in the primary tracks and need replacement.

If you were going to do it, you would need to have the tires at an angle (with the plane of the tire going directly into the hill) with most of the tire buried to best oppose that rotational force. The problem is that tires are round and the surface would not be very covered by exposed tire, which would defeat the purpose.  With thick dense clay and good ramming you might be able to do it at a less acute angle but clay will hold moisture and I think whole sections of it will slide. I think it would work possibly very well for a retaining wall not exposed to much rotational force but vehicles are not in that category.

Travis is in a wet climate and has generations of transferred knowledge, I would be very attentive to his knowledge. In fact Travis has saved my bacon on a couple projects! 
 
Stefanie Chandler
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With thick dense clay and good ramming you might be able to do it at a less acute angle but clay will hold moisture and I think whole sections of it will slide. I think it would work possibly very well for a retaining wall not exposed to much rotational force but vehicles are not in that category.

as i have said the tires will be filled with rock NOT dirt or clay.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Stefanie,

Just for an example, place a tire on the hill or even flat ground. fill it with rocks. then drive over it. as the vehicle tire contacts the ground tire, it will rotate. The rotation of the tire needs to be opposed completely or it will rotate. The vehicle weighs 4 tons lets say (SUV with load). 2000lbs pressure per wheel. 4 inch axis of rotation on the car side 14 inches on the uphill side. Average axis uphill is 7 inches. Even 8 inches would mean you need 1000lbs of mass in the tire. Clay or rock is not materially different in weight.

Also under the tires is where you would experience shear, which you have said is clay. when the clay gets wet, it will slide as a unit.

It could be done on a slight grade and may work to hold, but I hope this shows how with a 4 ton vehicle the physics are quite unfavorable.  If they were embedded in the ground without the staggered plan (just in the plane of the hill with a little expose rubber) they would actually perform better but would still be at risk of shear. 

 
Stefanie Chandler
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I think I am beginning to understand the problem.  I guess I am stuck with a driveway that I will have to have pushed back up into the driveway every 5 years or so.
Glad I talked to you before I started experimenting.
 
Travis Johnson
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You may have too honestly.

A road that has what amounts to a 15% grade is insane. I just came down Route 2 in Randolph, NH into Gorham, NH and that road is only 8% and has a runaway truck ramp to it. My road (in the picture) is 9% and is crazy steep (though it does not look it in the photo). I would never build a road steeper than that, and we do not have a lot of clay here.

The problem is, even with a crown on the driveway, the water is running down the hill before it hits the dirt that it takes the soil of the road out with it. You have to get the water off the road, and if you lack a right-of-way wide enough, you are up against it. You can try to secure rights from your neighbors to build diversion ditches across them that shed the water off your roadway, but if they already have difficulties with water, more water is not going to be to their benefit.

Your best bet is to place a lot of "bony" or very rocky gravel (4 inch sized rock) on top of the driveway. To lock it in you need a bulldozer...nothing else will work. Excavators, graders, etc all are wonderful machines, but in this case you need a bulldozer. That is because the lags of a bulldozer are deep enough and widely spaced apart to help "lock" the rock in. An excavator for instance has 3 grousers per pad instead of one, and is only half as tall...no good. A good operator will flatten the gravel off, then steer...A LOT. It is the steering that "locks" that rock together, not the blade.

At a 15% grade, it might still wash the fines out of the gravel, but the larger rock will stay together at least and help give the traffic traction going to the house. Even then, 15% grade...wow. You need a ski lift tow not a driveway by the sounds!
 
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Stefanie, I had a driveway like yours at one time and it was not fun, especially when there was snow, ice, or even wet leaves in the fall. What the previous owner had done was he put in a concrete driveway that instead of finishing it with a trowel or even a broom, he used a wide tooth steel garden rake, and used it side to side all the way down. It was flat side to side with no side drainage, but the ridges were deep enough that the water would slowly move to the side of the drive and didn't cause any washout. It was frightening the first time up and the first time down for everyone. Going down was particularly un-nerving because it was impossible to see the surface over the hood of the vehicle. It was steep enough that a u-haul truck that I rented to move in couldn't make it up the hill, not enough horse power when loaded. I had to pull half the stuff out and make two trips. A 4" gravel bed cut in below grade and compacted like Travis recommended, then 3" of concrete. I'm sure it wasn't cheap, but it had lasted 10 years when I bought it and showed no signs of failure when I sold the place 3 years later. The concrete was only on the steepest part, the rest was just the 4" deep gravel, so probably only about 120 feet of concrete, 350 feet of gravel. I hope this helps.
 
Anne Miller
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I was wondering if constructing switchbacks might be an answer.

" A switchback is needed when a straight road would exceed maximum acceptable grade."

Here is "A Landowner's Guide"

https://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/stewardship/accessroads/location.htm
 
Travis Johnson
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This is the best video I have ever seen on building roads and drives. It is a bit long, but comprehensive and they routinely build roads in mountains, on clay and in environmentally sound ways. A great video...



 
Stefanie Chandler
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The video was good information but the drive is already in place.  As for ramming the tires They Will Be Filled With Rock.  As the truck goes over the road the rock will be pressed  into the clay below.  I am planing a concave road not convex.  I want the water in the tires and from there into the ground.  the tires will bulge as the compression is incressesd and more rock will be  added.   
 
Bring me the box labeled "thinking cap" ... and then read this tiny ad:
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