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Old 04-12-2017, 03:44 PM   #1
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Better: dry creek bed or swale?


Our house sits at the bottom of a hill. During heavy storms we get a lot of water flowing down and through a 50' long dry creek bed (sloped apprx 1.6%) with rock and decorative boulders crowded into our small yard. The rock bed is being silted over + weeds and grass are thriving in it. A small "karst feature" has developed at the side of the ditch, so the water must be redirected away from it. One option would be to remove the rock bed and create a grass swale.

Primary question:
All other things being equal, is there any evidence that a rock creek bed is superior to a swale for moving storm-water through a small yard?

Also, I have read many articles about dry creek beds and most opinions are raves, with only one tiny voice found grumbling about the difficulty of cleaning leaves out of these ditches. There is no follow-up or years-later articles even hinting that maintenance can be considerable.

Question 2: Can you point me to any articles that actually compare dry creek bed and swale maintenance issues? (Your opinions and experience would also be appreciated.)

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:19 PM   #2
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


I have seen Swales wash away, where the creek bed did not.

And I think that a powerful leaf blower would clean the leaves and silt from the rocks great.

ED
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Old 04-12-2017, 04:38 PM   #3
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


The leaves were somebody else's complaint on the web, but I definitely can not remove the silt build up (which becomes mud) with a leaf blower. Tho if we reposition the rock bed and the stones are actually clean... who knows, maybe a blower would help if I went out after every rain. Not something I would look forward to. Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2017, 06:39 PM   #4
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


A silt screen or a turbidity curtain should solve the problem.
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Old 04-12-2017, 07:21 PM   #5
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


Quote:
Primary question:
All other things being equal, is there any evidence that a rock creek bed is superior to a swale for moving storm-water through a small yard?
Ayuh,.... I think the primary answer is, It depends on the velocity of the water that passes through,....

Rocks in the swale slows the water,...
As far as the leaves, Who Cares, it's biodiversity,....
Let the common wetland local plants populate it,...
Good for nature, 'n they also slow the water,...

With a strictly grass swale, dependin' on the water flow, yer yard could end up at the bottom of the hill,....
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:16 AM   #6
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


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Originally Posted by Canarywood1 View Post
A silt screen or a turbidity curtain should solve the problem.
Thanks, but an initial search for silt screen turbidity curtain show only very large projects (construction sites, large bodies of water, etc.). Can you cite examples where they have been used in a small yard?
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:01 AM   #7
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


Can't answer your question specifically, but I had similar, but smaller issue (backyard sloped into front) which I solved by using part drainage tube (4" sch 40 pvc pipe) under some rocks. So it was part rock bed, part drainage system. Unlike most french/regular drains however, I did not connect the pipe (4-8 foot sections) which allows water to enter and be discharged at a faster rate than just a dry creek bed (and don't have to worry about leaves - just put a screen on the tube end sections).

Another thought - although again, might not work for the volume of water your dealing with; is a rill. I've seen some beautiful rills. Essentially it's a swell, but made of any material you want - concrete, pavers, or even like a steel I beam. Weeds can't penetrate, water flows fast, won't wash away...Google 'Rill' and look at the images - should give you a bunch of ideas.

Last edited by Joe222; 04-24-2017 at 04:07 AM.
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Old 04-24-2017, 04:03 PM   #8
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Re: Better: dry creek bed or swale?


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... smaller issue (backyard sloped into front) which I solved by using part drainage tube (4" sch 40 pvc pipe) under some rocks. So it was part rock bed, part drainage system...

...I've seen some beautiful rills... Weeds can't penetrate, water flows fast, won't wash away...Google 'Rill' and look at the images - should give you a bunch of ideas.
Thanks, but doubt either of these would work in my short, low slope yard. The rills look interesting, but would essentially mean dumping all of the investment in decorative boulders and river rock. Doubt we could afford it.
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