Drainage - My garden Cesspool Part Two

by - September 13, 2011

Living in the city on 1/3 an acre of land in clay country, finding the ideal spot for a vegetable can be problematic at best. When we moved to our house back in 2007, our lot was covered in pines. Over the past three summers, our garden has been relocated and rebuilt no less than three times. Finally, this summer was THE summer when my gardening stars were to align. We'd removed 19 pines from our yard (don't worry, there are still plenty of trees left) and we moved the garden to the south side of the house where sunlight abounds. The topsoil appeared rich, and we dug right in.

We live on a hill, so we thought flooding wouldn't be a problem; however, our garden sits on the one flat spot of the yard that retains water. It seems that all the runoff from the back of the lot passes through and gets trapped. The pond-like stench as I sunk my shovel into the soil after Lee passed through told me that I had some work to do if I wanted to prevent some of the diseases and saturated root zone I dealt with this summer. Knowing I had a drainage problem was somewhat of a relief as I'd been down on myself over several failures.

Initially I wanted to just dig a hole to see how high the water table was and to pull some of the water off the lettuce and melon patches. If you know me well, you know that I can't stop at just a hole. By the evening, I'd dug a shallow ditch halfway across the garden. I dug down about 6-10" or until I hit the red clay later. This past weekend, Joe and I finished the ditch, making sure the end of the ditch that emptied into the yard was lower than the ditch inlet and attempting to create a path with as few pooling spots as possible.

Of course, the project was not without incident. This one fell in the mud during the testing phase before we laid the pipe.

We then laid a French Tile Drain the length of the ditch, wrapped it in fabric to keep the fines out and topped it with more fabric wrapped pea gravel before topping with soil and mulch.

We have not experienced a rain event since we completed the project, but already I can tell after watering the garden beds that the water is moving through the soil better.

For the before picture: Drainage - My garden Cesspool

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