Don Goddard

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since Jan 08, 2016
Grew up in Southern Michigan, Taught High School In Western Minnesota, Got MSME at NDSU in Fargo, Designed Nuclear Reactors and special tooling for Babcock & Wilcos in Lychburg VA.  Got PHD in ME at UNL in NE Taught Engineering In Grand Forks ND at UND. Taught Engineering IN TX at UT -Tyler. Retired to 20 Acres in Missouri.   Married to my wonderful (tolerant) wife for 50 years come this spring,  Current Age 70.
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Recent posts by Don Goddard

I must speak well of Sean Banks suggestion of cypress with some cautions and reservations.   The bald cypress in a beautiful light green graceful tree in my experience, It may be limted to the southern locations here in the south but be aware of a few of its other traits.   Birds do not seem to like it so unless you want and know of a bird that does, don't expect it to draw birds.  The tree tends to drip a sticky sap all spring and summer long, plus perhaps a bit into the fall, so it is not so good a choice to plant anywhere you park cars or farm equipment.  Great shade but not so good a choice next to things you want to keep clean. The dried sap may also tend to grow mold or fungus. turn black, and it does not wash off easily.  So maybe nice out in theyard away from walks, patios cars, and equipment.   Please note that my experience is with bald cypress.  But out in the yard, it is a strikingly beautiful tree, especially in the summer, but not perhaps so pretty when it is the bald time of the year.   When grown large and in its green stage it is a strikingly beautiful tree  As noted above my experience is with Bald cypress and not when grown in water.
2 months ago
Time does not permit me to read all of this so forgive me if someone has already commented on this solution to a low maintenance grassy field.

Here on the ozark plateau I had a grassy field planted to tall fescue.  Alas two springs ago it caught fire and it was planted with Kentucky #31 tall fescue.  This sent a 20 foot tall wall of flame racing across the field.   to the down wind side of the field there were well traveled trails/far roads with little grass but plenty of moss on them.   That made for an effective fire break at the edge of the woods and the woods themselves slowed the wind.   Howeve at other locations the fire burned into the woods.  but there I had trails through the woods that were bare due to foot traffic, mowing and vehicle traffic.  For that I taped a 2 foot piece of firing strip to my Bernz-0-matic torch and moved along the trails nearest the fire and backfired the forest floor and the draft of the main fire and the lower wind in the woods  pulled the back fire toward the main fire and as it was a ground fire it stopped the fire by burning the forst floor bare for 20 to 30 feet in front of the main fire.

I did not care to experience such a vigorous grass fire again so I went looking for something else to grow in that field.

I discovered FALCON IV Fescue.   It is a wonderful grass.  It winter kills but comes back up next spring.   It grows only about 7 inches tall and stops.   It holds very well against erosion.  It is often used in the outfield of athletic fields and looks pretty good if mowed.  So a whole atheletic field can be seeded with this and the mowing can be limited to just the infield and it does not need near as much mowing.

The primary part of the field that I sowed with it serves as a water catchment to increase water flow into the pond.  I used my land leveling-sloping gage to first lay out lines with a 1/4 inch per foot slope lines in the field and then turned up mini swale/berms along those lines resulting in 6 to 8 inch berms following those lines.  The swale itself was graded to 1/2 inch per foot toward the berms to concentrate the water enough against the berms to get the water deep enough to flow well along the berm.  

Then I sowed the field with the Falcon IV Fescue.   The Falcon IV provided enough stability and slowed the water flow enough to stop any erosion and filter out any silt, thereby gathering the water of the field to the pond while filtering out silt that would adversely effect the fish.  This provided more water to the pond which is especially needed in dryer years.  The shortness of the Falcon IV worked very well without near the fire hazard of the tall fescue.  Between the berms my 5 foot rotary mower on the tractor made for a rather nice looking field between the berms, and the growth of weeds on top of the berms was easily controled by straddling the berms with the tractor and mowing down hill with the mower raised as high as the hydraulic hitch would hold it.

-- lower fire risk
-- less vermin hiding in the field
-- water gathered for the pond
-- no erosion

A much more civilized field which will probably only need a cultivation / grading  touch up maintenance every few years. or a little more frequently if used for pasture (to touch up the berms due to trampling of the mini berms and swales.)

May be particularly useful in areas with significant fire risk by reducing fire fuel as well as impounding waterin ponds.



3 months ago
The problem with electrical ground in dry soil is that when things are pretty dry the ground can just bes a lousy conductor and a decent insulator.

Proceed as follows:  
1. Dig a hole in the ground (e.g. with a post hole digger) making it as deep as practical. (larger diameter may help as well but typical wooden post or end post would be about right.
2. Mix the removed soil with a generous dose of Copper Sulfate (Cu-Su-O4 ....source: farm store, as it is used in some insecticide mixes as well as a soil amendment in some cases)
3. Pack Earth mixed with Copper Sulfate back in hole.
4 wet the packed hole
5 drive ground rod(s) into filled hole(s)

a Copper Sulfate is a highly ionic mineral (bluish green especially when damp)
b Coper sulfate is highly hydrophilic and will draw water out of the air even under fairly dry condition
c Coper Sulfate being hydrophilic (water loving), it will tend to hold water in dry conditions and not let it totally evaporate.  In the presence of dampness it may migrate beyond the packed hole making it more effective.
d When Copper Sulfate has even a modicum of water it will become electroconductive
e Copper Sulfate is chemically compatible with copper or copper plated rods thereby preserving them somewhat.
f Such a coppersulfate treatment should also keep the water in the adjacent soil unless the soil is very wet (in which case you did not likely need the copper sulfate to begin with, but if there are very wet spells alternating with very dry spells retreating the ground rods might become necessary but not likely for years if you used enough the first time.
g The ground rod with the packed hole should now have an effective contact surface with the ground equal to the circumcerference times the length of the hole in the ground.
h If the hole is deep the bottom should be down into the soil where at least some water can be found by the hydrophillic nature of the copper sulfate, especially after you have added water
i Also multiple holes can be used to increase effectiveness
j adding some copper sulfate to the soil surface arouind the fence may also help (more a practical option for smaller enclosures rather than large acerages of pasture

The foregoing has been adapted from electrical code requirements for ground rods of houses and other buiildings in locations where electrical ground is sometimes lost due to dry soil conditions.
3 months ago
I would suggest that you investigate the web page at [url=http://www.bamboogarden.com/barrier.htm[/url] which is an example of root barrier used to confine the spread of Bamboo . as it is not in your country or even continent it may not be a practical source for you but it does describe the technology very well.   The root barrier is of a thickness of 0.060 inches or about 1.5 mm  It should be installed so as to project above the soil surface so roots do not creep over the top undetected    

So long cutting off the roots do not endanger the tree I would recommend cutting off all the tree roots before installing the root barrier.   The use of plastic barrels as a source of material by cutting the barrels up is probably a comparable method and may be more practical, so I reference the  web site as it gives the technology involved and a reference as to how thick the barrier needs to be.
5 months ago
As this thred is several years old, I realize that I am not likely posting for the benefit of those who started it but rather for those who come across it later.  As the original poster is in the pacific northwest there is a potential resource asset that is workably close if for no other reason than education.   The original poster has raised issues associated with soil stability on slopes and around ponds which are particularly relevent to the resource I have in mind.  That is    
Bamboo Garden Nursery  The site is not only a place to buy various bamboo varieties but also a vast source of information on varieties and the growing of bamboo.  Because the original poster has concerns for soil stability it is worth noting that bamboo grows a powerful mesh/mat of roots idealy suited for land stabilization.  And one of the themes in this strip is about stability of dams and ponds. some varieties of bamboo are specifically used for just that purpose,  Confusion of bamboo with water loving reeds is not justified as most (all?) bamboos will not invade water as submersion of the roots in water kills bamboo. It is used to stabilize earthen dams for just that reason, it will not invade the water and unlike trees it will not drive a root through the dam to make a leak.   The bamboo grows with a massive root mat that is basically shallow rooted and ties the earth together.  This particularly true of running bamboos which will elnarge their groves vigorously, but with a minimum of planning and knowledge are easily controlled without extensive labor.   they also make wonderful forage for grazing and browsing livestock (you may have to fence out goats) and the forage remains green all winter.  Most of the bad reputation of running bamboo comes from urbanites who are dismayed when the bamboo goes under fences from the neighbor's yard because it was planted up against the fence.   But outside of suburbia where it can be planted with open access on all sides if it starts to spread it simply is contained by mowing it with a lawn mower when the shoots come up in the spring.   and in larger plantings it is easily controlled by cutting the rhizomes (done with a subsoil plow in really large plantings.   Some varieties (e.g. Yellow Groove, aka Phylostachys aureosulcatta) are specifically chosen for earthen dam stabilization. because it not only stabilizes the earth but also shades out trees that would defeat the dam.  I would encourage all permies to at least familiarize themselves with the benefits that can be achieved with this family of plants.  There are varieties that can be grown most everywhere in the U.S. and parts of canada. (some even on snowy mountain sides.)
-- and you can make stufff out of it too.
-- and it is decorative
-- and it makes for great privacy barriers
-- and it makes great wind breaks
-- but generally do not plant it right up against buildings for a variety of reasons
-- consider fire risk when establishing groves because it burns intensly rather like pines

In other words like anything else in nature it has great uses but needs a modicum of knowledge in best usages.

Bamboo Gardens is located at
18900 NW Collins RD, North Plains, OR 97133
They can provide a vast array of varieties and an imense amount of knowledge, from their website and even provide advice and answers to questions.
Check in your own area, because if you can find a variety you like ,you can often get it for free (which is what I did and have freely done for others.  Spring is the best time. and 4 to 10 foot tall plants are best.  I have posted about the transplanting techniques.
10 months ago
Chad,
Some of us are still not getting a clear picture of your situation, or at least not clear enough yet to grasp the details, and in problems like you are having the Devil is in the details.   Sometimes in problem houses, knowing the details is the key to a cheap and effective solution.   The house I bought was like that.   The building code is a great guide but sometimes when the contractor cut corners or was not the sharpest knife in the drawer and the code inspector is not either, some real pain in the posterior situations are created that require a bit of finesse to fix without spending a bundle.   I had several of those on the house we bought and brought up to code and fixed issues on.

However a clear and accurate understanding of the situation is critical and we still don't have that.  

Chad Wrote
>>> My house is downhill and my garage and driveway is downhill as well.<<<
When you say something is "down hill", it has to be down hill from something and we still do not grasp your situation.   So if you say your "driveway is downhill" we do not know if when you drive out of the garage do you go down hill or do  you mean when you drive out of your garage, do you go down hill.

Chad Wrpte
>>> In the garage was a cut out hole that had water a few feet down with an old sump pump. I covered it and put a new one in <<<
When you say "In the garage was a cut out hole" do you mean that:
A.-- When they built that part of the house that they left an open hole when they poured the concrete floor,
Or do you mean that:
B.-- After  the houuse was already completeted that someone went into the garage and somehow actually cut a hole through the floor into the earth beneath and put a pump in the hole to remove the water that accumulated there.   If such a system had resulted by A.  or by B. and is not working well, the work to fix A versus B may be radically different.
And when you say that you covered the existing hole, did you
C.-- shovel it almost full and then pour concrete to close it
or
D.-- cut a plywood lid to place over it and the hole is still there underneath the lid.
Because C. vs D. one of those situations might severely affect how much and what kind of work is required to make it work better might be a lot or a little.

For example, if the situation is described by A and D  and when originally constructed the house had a full installed footer drain all around the foundation, just reopening the old system and correcting the footer drain might be the best remedy.
,
As I said that, for this sort of problem sometimes the devil is in the details.    The code was primarily made for how the building should be built in the first place,  If it was not done to code in the first place sometimes the fix is not described in the code anywhere and tearing out enough stuff and replacing that with what the code would have originally required is way to expensive, but,  there is yet something that can be done which would not have been the original choice but will work as well or better than what would have been originally if code had been adhered to.    Hiding somewhere in the code is an interesting little clause, that says that anything designed by a licensed professional engineer, drawn up and bearing the seal and signature of that engineer is automatically per code.  (I have done that kind of design and construction to fix some real botches that occurred even when there was active code enforcement when the monstrosity was originally built).

It would really help if we had a really clear understanding of your situation, best would be if we could take a look at what you are dealing with but at this distance it is a little out of the question,   From what you have described so far, I suspect that what you have is probably readily fixable, but maybe needs a bit of finesse with a somewhat non-customary detail or two.   The way we fixed some of the shortcomings of the house we bought had the contractor quite intreagued.  He was a really sharp guy who with his crew did really good work, and was very intrigued with some of the solutions I had devised, particularly when he realized that some of them were things he could use on other jobs, and he even picked my brain for some real oddball jobs he had taken on.  Like how he could reinforce some trusses with a "flying buttress"  or how to make the existing joists stronger after cutting them to reroute a sewer line through them, or how to add  and enclosed porch where no foundation could be added at a reasonable cost. and still make it struxturally sound and come in under budget.  I learned a lot from him too, maybe/probably more than I gave.  It is really fun to work with good people.
10 months ago
With all this discussion about the slope of the ground surrounding the house, I thought it might be worthwhile to post a couple of pictures of a useful home made land level and inclinometer that can be used for measuring slopes or determining level contour lines such as in swale building.  The tool was built when i built swales for rain runoff control on the slope above my garden. and for non-eroding runoff diversion to my pond.

The first image shows the inclinometer/level sitting in a field where I was using it.  The careful observer will note that there are two cleats attached to the main beam, the cleat is the more convenient to use  for mounting the carpenters spirit level, when laying out contour lines because the level is manouvered while being carried at the middle when a pre determined inclination has been chosen, the cleat at the adjustable end is used to mount the carpenter's level when the inclinometer is being used to measure the existing slope of the land because adjustment must be made to the height of the end to determine what slope the land has.  and also that position of the attached spirit level is used when trying to follow a contour of a specific grade,  e.g. to determine what direction to go to follow a line with a given slope such as 1/4 inch per foot (approximately 21mm/m) which is a good slope to achieve gemtle flow while avoiding erosion on a grass covered slope, commonly the slope used for sewage pipes.

The seccond image shows the details of the adjustable end, and the height of the end supports allows the inclinometer/level to avoid interference of minor irregularities while trying to measure the overall angle of a larger slope.
Please note the necessity of paint or other finish to avoid warpage of the tool that would render it inaccurate.   Originally built to establish level contour lines for water retention swales, it was modified to this adjustable form for measuring existing slopes and laying out gentle drainage routes.  Obviously the tool might require greater range of adjustment on land such has been illustrated in this discussion.   It is a useful tool made from a carpenters spirit level and a few bits of lumber (which were selected for their straightness and painted to protect their straightness. (It helps to have a level work surface when building this tool.)  The example shown is built from 8' long lumber.   Some of you may have seen this tool in my post on  permies.com about how I built my swales without heavy equipment but a rather small tractor.
10 months ago
I am seeing a theme in some of the above posts that may be amenable to a different approach.  The problem I will try to address is wet spots caused by excessive runoff, and a technique that may be very helpful is to consider planting trees that are "heavy water feeders"! But let me start with a strong cautionary note.    Trees that have this reputation can become a problem if one fails to note that generally such trees aggressively seek water, So care must be takento not plant them where they can get into septic drain fields because such trees will have an inclination to find the drain field pipes and invade them with their roots and that is a problem you do not want.    That warning being given! (and better be heeded) It may be necessary to also note that a wet spot beside or under a foundation might also have a similar problem in that invasion of a wet spot extending under a foundation or just too close, might encourage roots of such a tree to invade and then grow and expand to push against the foundation hard enough to disrupt it. So for instance do not plant such a tree close to a foundation or wall.    Uusing such trees will evaporate the water and evaporate such air and reduce or eliminate  the need to move the water across or through the ground.   Such trees are also often fast growing so while it may take time for such trees to grow large enough it may not take all that long for them to become effective.   And I should also point out the obvious, that if a building site should have such trees before construction, that characteristic should be noted and intigrated into planning.  

So what sort of trees am I talking about?  Weeping willow (silax babylonica) comes to mind first.  Naturally found along stream and river banks as well as ponds, its presence along the banks of flowing water attests to its powerful and extensive root system that can stabilize such soil against erosion.   It will grow in non wet soil as well as wet, but as one would expect this is a tree that thrives in wet soil.   KEEP IT AWAY FROM YOUR SEPTIC DRAIN FIELD !!! Other than that, it is a beautiful and graceful tree.   One often encounters concerns about growing it near small ponds as in a drought it still wants water and a small pond may suffer if it has too many of these on the bank.  

Full disclosure:  I only dabble at being a "sort of" arborist and there are many varieties of some trees so do your homework on this approach before planting,  Especially since some variaties can prove to be invasive.   And a variety thiat is well behaved in one place may be invasive in another.
10 months ago
Chad,
Bad News:It would appear that when you bought your house you obviously bought a problem
Good news:  Problems
Better news: Some probablems can be solved easily especially if they are common problems that others have had to solve.

Cautionary:  The first three rules of Civil Engineering are 1) Drainage, 2) Drainage, and 3)Drainage.

Question:
In that picture labeled "IMG_1874.JPG"  Is that yellowish house yours or is your house similarly situated, i.e. a ways down a slope !  If that is the case, your problem may be amenable to a simple solution if the problem it is a result of water moving down the hill and running up against the house.  That is to say that if your problems derive from your house acting like a dam for water going down the hill.   If that is the case the contractor who built it might ought to be strung up for not having addressed the issue at that time.

We need more information about your house. and the sump pump locations.

1. How is your hous built:
a. Does it sit on top of the ground (aka slab on grade)
b. Does it have a basement
c. Is the house a walk out on the down hill side but have the ground piled up aginst the up hill side

2. What kind of soil do you have
3.  Please go to google maps and look up your house location and get us an aerial view of your lot including the area arround the house, maybe 100 feet in every direction
4.  Please also get us a map of your house all the way to the lake and pond
5.  Please annotate the map even if you have to print it out and draw on it and then scan or rephotograph the paper copy to get something you can post here.   If we had your address, we could probably extract more map information than you know to supply.

After seeing your photos I am suspicious exactly where the water is coming from that is plaguing your house.  

6. If you poured a 5 gallon bucket in the middle of your garage floor would it run over to the garage door and run out if you opened the door.
7. Do you have to drive up hill at all just to get to get your car out of the garage???  
8. What is the lowest point of the floor anywhere in your house.
9. How far do you have to dig to get to bed rock
a. under the house
b. on each side of your house.
10 if you walk around your house on which sides if any would you be walking down hill if you turned and walked straight toward your house.   (for instance from my house it is down hill in any direction I walk away from my house,

As a licensed professional engineer, I would be inclined to say any dwelling that requires a sump pump to remain livable is probably the wrong design or just should not have been built there, but for what its worth I encountered a house that required two sewage lift pumps in series to remain livable as it required a first pump to lift the sewage to the second lift pump that then lifted the sewage higher than the ridge pole of the roof! .... Care to guess what ended up in the basement if either one of the pumps failed ....... Yeccccch  Code enforcement and inspections must have really failed or been bribed on that one!

The need for more information in your case is that we do not yet grasp what is causing your water problem but several of the possibilities are probably solvable and some may even not be all that expensive.
10 months ago
The previous post by Marianne Cicala about tree roots destroying an earthen fill dam is SPOT ON!  Do not do that.   Ideally an earthen dam will be built with water impervious soil (e.g. heavy clay) on the wet side and porous material e.g. (sandy gravelly soil on the dry side.    The idea is to prevent the dam from accepting water on the pond side but drain dry on the down hill side.    But with respect to trees on the dam, any trees on the dry side will be stimulated to drive roots clear through the dam which will make leak paths that will cause washouts in the dam as the water follows along the root, especially if the root dies and breaks down.    One very effective solution is to instead plant RUNNING Bamboo on the dam.    I capitalized the word "running" because you will want a plant that spreads and invades any places that are damaged.    

The reason for calling for bamboo is that it tends to be a shallow rooting plant and will not invade water as persistent submersion kills the roots.    The bamboo is no wuss when it comes to roots, but its growth pattern is to establish a dense network of shallow roots that will tie the surface together with a mat that erosion would be hard pressed to disrupt.  The bamboo growth will be rapid reaching heights of 20 to 40 feet in a few years and so dense that it will shade out any tree saplings that would endanger the dam by growing quite large and pushing water seeking tree roots through the dam.   Running bamboo has an undeserved bad reputation because it so vigorously spreads itself.   However if one merely mows the boundaries of the grove every spring when the stuff sprouts, that is all that is necessary, just make sure that the boundaries are accessable.   However as bamboo roots cannot endure constant contact with water or saturated soil it will not invade your pond.  

The variety I grow can reach heights of 40 feet in places like Florida or the Gulf coast, but here in SW Missouri, zone 6 the climate keeps it at about 25 to 30 feet (at the most) and growing so thick that one cannot see through a 10 foot wide grove.  It is also a wonderful wind break to reduce evaporative water loss from the pond.  Even better in my case since I live on a gravel road, it is a fan tastic dust barrier,  But it seems to have a quirk that it will simply not cross a gravel road.  And the quirk to that is it can possibly succeed in crossing a paved road by putting out roots under the pavement.  The rhizomes can grow to lengths of 1 to 1.5 times the tallest stalks (aka culms) in the grove, but as previously mentioned if a rhizome trys to extend the grove, it will put up shoots in the spring that are easily taken off with an ordinary lawn mower, and the rhizomes can be cut with a shovel at the edge of the grove and it the sprouts are mowed off the rhizome beyond the cut will die.    The rhizomes it uses to spread look for all the world like a bamboo stalk growing horizontally just under the ground with clusters of roots at the nodes instead of clusters of leafy stems.    But do not plant next to a building or or where you cannot mow on all sides to prevent spreading.   Of course if it is exposedd to various animals such as horses cattle or goats, you may have to limit their access as they love it.   As it is in leaf all year it makes great winter forage but you may have to fence it as ruminants find it delicious and goats seem to have an especially voratious appetite for it.  Of course if you have trimmings from it, there is no need to work to dispose of it, just dump the trimmings where the goats can get at it and stand back.

The variety I am growing is Phylostachys Aureo Sulcatta, and if you do not speak Latin that translates to "leaves like corn, golden groove" and its common english name is Yellow Groove bamboo.  The bamboo is quite decorative and graceful, but if you plant it next to  your neighbor's fence you had best make a deal with your neighbor about mowing any invasion of his property or put down a root/rhizome barrier to stop its advance in that direction (of course along side his cow or goat pasture, there should be no problem at all.  

It seem that every year or two I find that I plant more of it for privacy or wind break or other reasons, and I now have developed fairly easy techniques to dig plants from the edges of my groves for planting and have refined the tools and techniques to make that fairly easy and effective and can plant a new 100 foot long grove in about a weekend provided I have enough of a grove to provide me with the requisite number of plants.   If anyone is interested I I have plenty of pictures showing the technique and results.  In as little as 2 to 3 years one can have a 6 to 10 foot bamboo wall and in 5 years a 25 to 30 foot wall.    (Too bad I am not in a gulf zone where I could grow a cousin of the bamboo I grow here.  It is called MOSA  and a new shoot coming up in an established grove will reach its full height of about 70 feet and 7 to 8 inch diameter the first year.  That is some macho bamboo !!!  My quite adequate variety is lucky to reach a more modest 25 to 30 feet and 1.5 inch diameter at most around here.   But there are all sorts of varieties with most any growth pattern you might want so far as size goes.

If you just want a few clumps of bamboo for landscaping, it would be best to stick with the so called clumping bamboos, but they won't spread themselves  like you would want if you wanted to plant bamboo that would take over dominate, preserve and reinforce an earthen fill dam.    Of course the bamboo will also stablize steep earth slopes, but in my experience you would want to start planting near the base as the bamboo seems to advance uphill better than downhill, or at least that is my experience here with the variety I have.    

You may need to check your local laws because many urbanites seem to have gotten bamboo classified as an invasive weed because of careless neighbors and a lack of understanding of this vigorous durable plant that has many agricultural advantages.  Let me know if you want to know more about this wonderful, useful plant.  
1 year ago