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need cheap ideas on drainage issue's

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi everyone, we've had a lot of rain in my area for a week or more now, and from the looks of it, plenty more on the way! We moved here in January, this year, so this is the first time this problem has become an issue, and I'd hate to see what happens should we get a major hurricane. I planted squash, sweet corn and cucumbers in this area earlier in the spring, and all did well except for the corn, it was at the lower end of the garden and actually drowned in a storm we had come through in early March or May. I did dig a trench to allow the water to drain out of the area into the woods. This time around, I finished the trench, started at the top of the garden, and followed along the fence to the end of where I had already started it last time. My question is, can I lay PVC in the trench, with small filter's on each end so the sediment doesn't clog the PVC. I can always place a high pressure hose in one end to flush it out as needed, but I "think" this would help solve the problem, I'm not sure, it sounds like it'll work, but does anyone else have any idea's before I implement my plan. I'd like to do something while the area is wet, and still raining, much cooler to do in the rain, and the wet earth may be heavy, but it at least is easier to dig in. Also, you can see in some of the picture's where I had to actually dig with my hands under some major root systems of our cedar tree. I didn't want to kill it so I made sure the water was able to flow under the roots, instead of removing them. They were holding the water back, and I had no where else to go with the trench.
Any idea's out there, has anyone else dealt with this problem?

Thanks for any information you can pass on, I'd love to hear all your idea's so i can finish this before the end of this month. We're leaving for a month long road trip, and don't want to come back to more damage and more digging since the trench has been dug, and is ready to have something done with it. I don't want to start over!!!

Sincerely, Jami

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Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

here are a few more picture's of my mess! These picture's are in order, and the last picture is looking back up towards the top of the garden. The water does flow through the trench, the whole way down, and into the woods behind our property. The area behind us is all marsh and woods, a sanctuary for deer and bear, so I have no problem sending the water that way. From what I've been told by the neighbors all this area was marsh and trees at one time, so I can see that this has been an on going problem. It's way to expensive to have someone come in and reshape the area, out of the question, I deal with it if it continues to be a problem, but I really want this area for a garden! Guess I'll have to plant water lily's!! LOL

Thanks, Jami !

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Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Here's a picture of it flooded back in March, this is when I first dug thee last part of the trench, after the last few weeks of rain, I finished it off. But you can see what I'm dealing with, the corn is still in, as is the squash and cucumber's. Along the fence are my cantaloups, and watermelon, they've escaped the damage so far, I did have a few cantaloupes get soggy and had to be thrown to the birds in the woods, but the fence is a trellis for them , and some have managed to grow on the other side out of the soggy mess, and are still going strong today!

Thanks, Jami

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Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

We've had a ton more rain than normal this year. If this year is an anomaly for you, too, you may not want to get too crazy.

First, though, you need to be sure this is not backing up against your house. Whether it is or not, you need to be aware of where the water is coming from. If you have water from somewhere else running off onto your garden area, the best bet is to go upslope and redirect the water somewhere else with a swale or other appropriate tool. I put in a huge swale this spring ($1000) and it has made a world of difference.

If it's just rain and your ground doesn't drain properly, you can help with amending the soil. You can also dig a trench and back fill it as a french drain. At your local big box store, they sell black drainage tubing and a panty-hose-like sock, and it's cheaper than PVC.

You dig a deep trench, put in the drainage tubing, backfill with gravel and voila, you have a french drain. If you don't use a proper drainage tube, the french drain will fill up and stop working after a few years.

However, unless you can get enough slope to really drain the water off (1" drop per foot of run), I think you are still going to have waterlogging problems. If all else fails there's always container gardening.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

jamibad - you might want to go
to the "This Old House" web
site and look-up how to install a
French drain.
Perhaps that will fix your problem.

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

French drain would be the first thing to do. I would also recommend using a raised garden bed...6-12" is all you would need to keep those roots up above that waterlogged soil. You could also avoid the interference with the tree roots. I built a nice set of raised garden beds with 2 X 10's for around $60. I then had regular top soil delivered by the yard for about $20 a yard. Not only did I get good draiange, I also got above the rocks and have slightly warmer soils and better growing plants.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

A raised garden bed is a good idea, BUT be sure NOT to put it against the foundation wall of a house or outbuilding where it will come in contact with the main wall. Doing so will encourage rot and possibly termites.

The (unknown) tree in my garden sends roots into my raised beds. I either have to cut them back each spring, or add more soil to the beds - which makes the roots grow up into the soil I just added. I think it does this because it's easier and more nutritious than trying to grow in the hard, Carolina red clay.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I agree. I can't tell from photos how the ground slopes, but you do need at least some lower spot to lead water to.

>> (1" drop per foot of run)

Is an 8 degree slope really needed? I would have thought something shallower could still be made to drain sufficiently. But I'm no expert.

It sounds like you have a trench to intercept water flowing down toward your beds. But if the soil is permeable, the water MAY flow sideways right through your tranech and just keep running downhill into your beds.

Can you find a low spot BELOW your beds, and run a trench along the low edge of you5 beds, and then trench out to that lower spot?

If not, raised beds sound good to me.

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Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :

>> (1" drop per foot of run)

Is an 8 degree slope really needed? I would have thought something shallower could still be made to drain sufficiently.

Ack -- bad typo there. 1" for every 10 foot of run - minimum.

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

I'm sorry, I haven't responded to everyone's idea's, but I am listening! It's been so darn hot, that I haven't been out there to decide what I want to do, but am hashing over everyone's thoughts and idea's. I will tell you, that the trench I dug is working, but it slowly fills with sediment, which needs to be dug back out. I leave here Sept 2nd, and will be back late October, at that time I'll take care of the problem. I've layered newspaper and straw on the high side, too much mud, but that will take care of some of the problem, I keep the trench clear, the water keeps moving towards the woods, Problem is we've had rain every stinken day, which is good, but unusual, that I decided not to fight the issue till we come back from our road trip! I am paying attention to the advise you all give me, and plan on attacking the problem once our weather cools down! Thank You, and keep them ideas coming! Jami

new picture's tomorrow, just laid straw on the high side of this garden, tore out all the vine's, cantaloupe, and watermelon, just trying to get some of it ready for planting this fall! Again , I'm paying attention to the reply's! Just not on here,too much to keep up! Thanks everyone, Sa wat de ka ! ( Bye for now in Thai !)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Thanks, Nicole! I couldn't find my notes, but a minimum of one inch of drop in ten feet sounds good to me.

(My method for leveling a trench is to dig it by eye and by guess on a dry day, then wait for a hard rain.

Water backs up behind a high spot, and pools in low spots. I dig into the high spots (or scrape and scoop them away). Then the backed-up water flows in a rush and erodes the next high spot (and drops silt into the next low spot).

I usually work from the bottom of the trench up, so that each rush of water smooths out as much of the trench as possible.

>> the trench I dug is working, but it slowly fills with sediment, which needs to be dug back out.

Sometimes I cut a slit trench no wider than my mattock blade. Then, I can scrape the whole trench by just dragging the mattock blade in the trench as I walk backwards, uphill. It doesn't work very well while the trench is full of water!

If you don't mind losing all that silt downhill, and clogging up your drain-to spot, you can stand at the top of the trench with a hose sprayer on "JET". Then use it like a leaf blower to push water and silt together, downhill. But you might widen the trench more than you wanted to.

I throw the excavated silt up onto the raised bed, and any subsoil towards a part of the yard that I wish was higher. I suppose it will take 100 years to make much difference this way!

I think the "pro" way to deal with silt in a trench is to dig the trench wide enough and deep enough to lay down corrugated perforated pipe (I can only find huge sizes, like maybe 6" diameter.) Then cover the open mouth and sides with "sleeves" or "socks" made from filter cloth. I wrapped mine with some non-woven fabric I had, and just trust that the 6" pipes are too wide to clog in my lifetime.

But that is a huge amount of work! Excavating 2-3 times as much soil as necessary, then back-filling with drainage gravel. Heavy and expensive!

One good thing about the big corrugated perforated pipe - one 10 foot length of 6" diameter pipe displaces 0.6 cubic feet that would otherwise be 65 pounds of gravel!

But mostly I just cut little ankle-breakin' slit trenches. My "soil" is such hard clay that any silt that appears is a treasured soil amendment!

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Thanks to EVERONE!! I now have a plan ! My trench is similar to Rickcorey_WA's picture's, all down hill, than I have the tree roots, which were stopping the flow of water into the woods behind this garden. I have 2 gardens, 1 has 3 9x3 raised beds, and than I plant in the ground around the perimeter of the fence,( I back up to a nature preserve, and have deer) and that garden has no problems. The one I'm dealing with slants towards the neighbors fence, and than down hill towards the woods. What I've seen on here should work. So far, with all the rain, i have the water running where I want it to go, and I also have to keep clearing the silt, so another suggestion I like, till I can get the french drain in, is using the jet spray on my hose! WOW, you all have hit the nail on the head! A big hug to all those who have added suggestions, I'll post picture's once I get started, leaving to go north to visit family for 3 weeks, so I won't start it till we get back. I hope I don't have to do to much more digging after we get back, the trench is holding it's on for now.
The 1st picture is a total view of the garden with the drainage problem. I started laying straw, and have my strawberry's sitting on the straw, they're starting to multiply, so I'm trying to get them set up so I can start the transplants into other pots till I get the drainage taken care of. The 2nd picture shows how the silt gets into the trench, and the 3rd shows how the property get's lower towards the back of the garden, and the tree roots. The last 2 picture's are of my raised bed gardens, I would think there wouldn't be enough room in the left garden to put raised beds as it's a narrow garden, only about 9 foot across but very deep length wise! Maybe, but I think I prefer to have all my creepy / viney plants over in this garden, like strawberry's, watermelon and cantaloupes! Just saying for now ☺☺ Thanks everyone, have a great day!!!

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Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Good! It looks like your yard really needs raised beds. At least the roots always have a high water table they can drink from.

It looks like the plot that slopes toward the fence could be helped by shoveling or hoeing the soil from a 2-3 foot strip along the low edge, up and onto the bed. Make the bed higher and the fence-trench wider and deeper.

Add one wall between the excavated fence-trench-strip and the bed, which is now a raised bed (at least on one side, it is).

I think beds benefit form having level surfaces, but maybe that is only to make watering easier and more uniform.

P.S. If you can identify some crop that you want to grow, and is also water-loving and sucks up a lot of water, plant it along the low edge of the bed.

When it is not actually raining, that crop MIGHT act like a sump pump and draw water out of the bed sooner than it would otherwise have drained out.

However, if it's really trying to lower the whole water table in your yard, that might be too much work for any row of plants.

Ipomoea aquatica would be a candidate. Unfortunately, this plant may be invasive and forbidden in parts of FL. It's semi-aquatic and
sub-tropical and edible.

"Water Spinach"
"Water Morning Glory"
"Water Convolvulus"
"Swamp Cabbage"

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Rick Corey, I'll have to look into those plants, but your idea's are great! We're looking into it once we get back from vacation, something needs to be done for sure! I thank you, and will keep this thread up to date with what ever we decide, adding picture's, and hoping for more input as we develop this garden. We've only been here since January of this year, so it was a surprise to us, as how quickly the water backed up from a heavy rain. Plus when our rain barrel overflows, this is where the water goes, so we're going to move it to the other corner of the house, that will help some, but I can't wait to get this problem fixed, I have so many things I can do with this space!! I have big dreams, lol!!

Thanks, Jami

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> will keep this thread up to date with what ever we decide,

I really appreciate that. In online-forums, everyone has an opinion, but only a few people have experience. I think the most valuable threads are those where someone HAD a specific problem, then did a specific thing, and reports the results.

That way, we ALL learn!

>> it was a surprise to us, as how quickly the water backed up from a heavy rain.

Yeah, knowing how sandy most FL soil is, I thought the only way you could ever get standing water was to be below sea level!

In principle, as long as there is someplace lower than your bed, you can get the water to flow there. I always knew that water flowed downhill, but the mud wallow shown up above stalled that little project in the middle because I forgot that once it got "downhill", water would STAY there until I gave it a path to somewhere even lower!

One friend had a yard lower than most of a neighbor's yard, and the neighbor threw up a concrete curb to divert huge amounts of water into my friend's yard! So he went out at night with a gallon of concentrated hydrochloric acid, and dribbled it into pores and tiny cracks in the curb, so that it dissolved pretty darn fast. It must have amazed that neighbor how the rainwater dissolved concrete!

That was NJ, so they're lucky no legs got broken in the process. Yaknow whaddImean?

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

Rick, lol, I had tears in my eyes laughing at the acid trick. That was a great story, serve's the neighbor right.

I agree with you on keeping up with the results since we ask for opinions or information, and than while in the middle of something, all of a sudden, nothing. It's like reading the first part of a book and losing the book, you keep wondering what the ending was. I like to keep people informed as to what I start, as I feel there is always an ending. Most people come to DG for guidance, information, and friendship, and I hate it when I find something I'm interested in, and than wait to see what the outcome is, never to know! I see a lot of that on here. Someone starts a thread, and than it just sits there. If I have an answer, I try to help, and I also like to hear back as to weather it worked or not. I find myself asking for more help, lol, than I give. I've only been seriously gardening for about 2 years, and just moving to this new home and setting up a garden has had it's problems. I live beside a state preserve, and we have deer, a few bears, turkeys and what ever else you can think of in Florida woods. The problem was keeping them out of the garden. 3 months into my planting after the raised beds were in, with a fence around the beds, a bear went right over the fence, lucky for me, he didn't do anything but damage the fence, I didn't know what to do. Research showed me to buy a scarecrow, a device to keep animals of any size out of the gardens. It is heat sensitive, and a motion detector, and will shoot a stream of water 90 ft, in a 90 ft radius, as often as it senses something is there. I haven't had a problem since than. I read on here where someone was asking how to keep deer out of their garden, I told them about my success with this devise, and never heard back from them. So it goes. Now this drainage problem. I'll post as we take care of it, I passed the info on to my Hubby, and he agrees with your advise, just moving, a trip planned for 3 weeks to go north, leaves us a little short on $$$ to do anything drastic at this time, and your way is something we didn't think or know about. This is what make's DG so great!!! I did think about PVC tubing under the soil, but from there I was stumped, as to how the water would drain through it. After all the digging we did to make the trench, I didn't want it to fill back in before we knew how to fix the problem.
A big Thank you!!! Till later, Jami

here's a picture of my scarecrow!! My husband was in the back of the garden, testing it out, we had it in a bucket, but since than it actually sits in the ground, it works that well. I use to see deer poop along side where the garden is, and since putting this little guy in, nothing come's through this way, BUT, I see deer every night out front of my house, I'm surrounded by woods through out the neighborhood, so I'm glad to have found this scarecrow!

This message was edited Aug 10, 2013 1:23 PM

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Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I love your deer-chaser! I wish I had a small version to keep cat poopers out of my lettuce beds!

Definitely, digging the trench should be the hardest part! I started to learn that the hardest and most expensive part would have been buying and hauling enough drainage gravel to fill it back up - but that was NOT going to fly on my budget and with my legs doing the hauling! Hence the huge diameter corrugated perforated pipe. Ten foot lengths oof that were pretty cheap, as I recall.

>> I've only been seriously gardening for about 2 years, and just moving to this new home and setting up a garden has had it's problems.

I think we learn the most in our first few years, and also after a move. Once we find a method that works "well enough" for our situation, we usually stop researching and testing and learning.

Looking forward to learning about what works for you! Unfortunately, gardening is like engineering. People learn more from other peoples' failures with new ways to do something, than from a success with something that was already known to work somewhere else.

Of course, we learn the MOST from success with a NEW method !

Flagler Beach, FL(Zone 9b)

lol, Thanks RickCorey-WA !

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)


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