improving drainage

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by nibs, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. nibs

    nibs Junior Member

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    I was wondering if anybody out there had a creative solution to help me increase my drainage.
    i have a medium/large suburban yard in Newcastle that i am slowly making over, the problem is that the soil has a high clay content (this was never so apparent as last weekend when the whole yard was a foot underwater...) and is very flat.

    I know i could make raised beds and i have been doing that so far, but the increased energy needed to build, fill and improve soil makes it not such a feasible option. about 1/4 of the yard will be raised 500mm by the time i am finished but that leaves another 3/4 boggy when it rains still.

    The best solution i came up with was to dig a deep pond (1.5m or so) where all the water can go when it rains and be stored there while it slowly seeps into the soil. but would this just make the deeper soil constantly water logged, therefore being a problem for trees in the yard? it would make a nice feature and be quite a productive area of the garden though...

    also if anybody has some suggestions of fruit trees that i could grow? banana, avocado, paw paw, figs are already on the books, but what else would be appropriate?

    cheers
     
  2. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Is there any lower area nearby where water can drain off, like a storm sewer or drainage ditch? If so, maybe you could dig a ditch or two to it, lay some gravel in it and install some perforated drainpipe wrapped with landscape fabric (to prevent mud from clogging the pipe). It may drain faster that way than just waiting for it to drain down to the water table.

    Maybe you could get some professional advice?

    Sue
     
  3. nibs

    nibs Junior Member

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    no, unfortunately the stormwater access poin as at the highest part of the yard, not much help really...
    unless i dig down to the storm pipe and crack a hole in it but this doesn't really seem like such a hot idea...
     
  4. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    No, they probably wouldn't like you doing that very much.

    Is there any kind of opening at the top? If you did create a pond, maybe you could use a sump pump to move the water up to the opening. (I don't know what sump pumps are called there; they are used for pumping water out of basements here.)

    It would only be a long-term solution, but many swampy sites have been dried up using trees, but I don't know if that would be suitable for your site. Large trees have been known to soak up and expire up to four or five thousand gallons of water a day.

    I wonder if there are some large bushes that might produce something of the same effect? Maybe some kind of local agricultural service could make suggestions for species. It seems eucalyptus does that, but I'm in the U.S. and don't know for certain.

    Sue
     
  5. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Hi Nibs
    Is the water only from rainfall or do you end up with run off from nearby .
    Generous application of gypsum will help the clay drain .
    As Sue wrote , a collection point to pump from is probably your best solution for large rain events .
    I have used a product called "Strip Drain" it is already covered with cloth and will never clog up , you could bury a 200l barrel and feed the drainage strips into it and use a small marine bilge pump / with float switch to move the water .
    Terra
     
  6. nibs

    nibs Junior Member

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    thats not a bad idea,

    i am in the process of doing the gypsum in preparation for planting some trees, and will figure out the best way to pump the water out of there.

    thanks for the tips!
     
  7. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    I don't like too much the engineer version of drying the land..
    If it is always wet you could plant something suitable but I think it is sometimes wet and sometimes dry like stone.
    We've got cly too and I try to get as much mulch as I can.
    the worst underneath a shallow soil perhaps 15 cm or less there are heaps of gravel!
     
  8. Plumtree

    Plumtree Junior Member

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    Is it really necessary to do anything about the drainage? It doesn't rain all the time! Don't trap the water in ponds. If you condition the soil so that you can grow things then everything else should take care of itself. Use gypsum and sand to breakup the soil and add plenty of humus. This will add bulk to the soil and drainage will improve. Once properly prepared a clay based soil is excellent for growing! :oops:
     
  9. colours

    colours Junior Member

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    willow trees

    From what I learnt in my brief experience of studying horticulture (I'm no expert) gypsum doesn't really work well in NSW clay. Apparently it is ok for breaking up the clay initially, so you need to take your opportunity to add organic matter/sand immediately otherwise the clay will re-form.

    I've heard willow trees (Salix sp) are great for soaking up water, however they take up room and are deciduous so won't help in winter.

    I think an ag drain would be your best bet.
     
  10. Tamara

    Tamara Junior Member

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    have you put in swales? Thet are fantastic cath the water and use it, provide a mound to grow on.

    Geoff Lawton reckons it is almost impossible to over swale a suburban block.

    Even microswaling would be good. We used a ditch with.

    Much love,
    Tamara
     
  11. nibs

    nibs Junior Member

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    Its pretty hard to swale flat ground, i have tried where i can...

    I am also skeptical of techno fixes and would have uses a hand pump to drain it.

    i do prefer the solution of planting the bog plants and was already doing this on a shady corner of the site, just wanted to get some diversity of crop.

    I think i will pick a combination of solutions. dig some small swales to direct the water toward a gentle depression where bog plants will be (food and mulch). this should deal with moderate to heavy rains while a good layer of mulch and humus around the rest of the site should retain enough moisture for healthy growth.

    I would also like to share with you a genious idea that i had the other night, for confined spaces (like mine) you could double swales as boardwalks and grow mints, pennyroyal, soapwart, and other ground coverish moisture loving plants underneath. that way even paths are productive areas! pretty sweet eh.

    thanks for all the help guys!
     
  12. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    do you have pictures what you built until now?
    Swales on flat ground seems to be impossible, but even on flat ground you need some wter management.
     

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