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-   -   Erosion - need suggestions on timing (https://www.diychatroom.com/f16/erosion-need-suggestions-timing-56456/)

RJ99 11-02-2009 02:45 PM

Erosion - need suggestions on timing
 
Hi,

I need some help. I have some major erosion in my large backyard. I have done a lot of reading and have plans to deal with it - but they will take a looonnnggg time since it will be DIY (for cost reasons) and I have limited energy. I estimate it will take at minimum 2 years. So what to do first?

My plans include several dry creeks (3+) with some rock garden type landscaping where there are existing erosion valleys, terracing in the open area of the yard (3 or 4 shallow terraces - probably use 6x6's for the walls, ~50' W x 40' D in the middle of the yard), a stepped path down through some trees where there is currently an eroded area and the fence gate at the bottom, some landscaping and minor regrading (swales and berms) to make the water flow towards the creek beds.

Should I start with the creek beds, steps, or terracing? If terracing or steps, most of what I have read says to start at the bottom of the slope, but if it will take a few years, I don't think that is the way to go.

Yard data: The yard is not completely square, but is roughly 110 W x 70 D. The slope varies between 5' to 7' away from the house into a woods with a creek running through it. The creek is about 40 more feet beyond a chain link fence. There are numerous trees in the yard except for the open area which is about in the middle. The soil is not very good, lots of georgia clay and rock in it.

Thanks in advance for your input.

RJ

pls8xx 11-03-2009 05:48 AM

First the questions.

So what to do first?

Start by making a scaled base map of the area as it is now with accurate elevations of the terrain.

Should I start with the creek bed, steps, or terracing? If terracing or steps, most of what I have read says to start at the bottom of the slope, …

Start with the base map. When you get to construction, structural elements that are connected should be built from the bottom up. Where they are not connected you may have a choice which to do first. Be careful you do not build one part and block access to get materials and equipment to another part. That’s just one of the reasons to have a detailed plan of the entire project before starting construction. Once the plan is finished, it will suggest an orderly progression of construction.

Your description of the backyard indicates a moderate slope of 7 to 10%. Slopes in this range are adaptable to DIY. Where the soil is a dense clay, even moderate slopes can have erosion problems due to the difficulty of establishing a grass cover. In areas that get sufficient sunlight, a permanent and healthy lawn can be had by working in bands starting at the top of the slope and establishing the grass going downward on the slope. I suggest a band width of no more that 10ft on 10% slopes and 20ft on 5% slopes. Amend the clay with sand to create a permeable soil mix of at least 6 inch depth. On a dense clay this can mean 3 inches of added sand mixed with the top 3 inches of native clay. Do not use organics in the amendment!

On moderate slopes, flat areas can be created in the landscape with low retaining walls. Many homeowners are capable of constructing walls up to 3 ft in height, but it does involve some hard labor.

Erosion abatement of tree-shaded areas of 10% slope require site specific treatment. There is no general solution.

RJ99 11-11-2009 06:07 AM

Thank you for the info. A few more questions have come out though.

A big "duh" came to me when you talked about being careful not to block access. I won't have any major structures, but do need to consider where my gates are and keep easy open paths to make things easier.

It has been beautiful this past week so I have been outside working as much as possible. Rain yesterday and today though - so I am back on the computer - and letting my back recuperate!

I do have a scaled plan with approximate elevations on paper and a rough draft in excel. The elevations are quite consistent through out the yard. I am thinking of buying a program called "Chief Architect Landscaping & Deck Designer 9.0" to help out. Any thoughts on this??

You said "structural elements that are connected should be built from the bottom up". Do you mean things like the dry creek beds? Is that true even if it takes several months to complete them? My concern is that the bottom will get overrun by soil eroding iin the case of heavy rains before I complete the top.

Grass cover won't work for me. I have reseeded for three years in a row now, and between the clay soil, the rain and the dogs - it has been a waste of time and money. They are inside dogs but do go out for supervised play and have some well-worn paths. I plan to level those paths and fill with some kind of hard-scape; maybe gravel or mulch, or wood "pavers" - an idea I saw in a book. I need to research what will be best for the them to run on.

One last question. The areas where the dry creek beds will be built are already eroded into mini creeks when it rains. Since they are in the areas with trees there are some roots exposed here and there. Do you have knowledge on what to do about those? My plan for the creek beds was to be about 6" deep in the middle and two to three feet wide..

Thanks again for your help. This site has been a great find - I know I will have many questions over the course of this project.

RJ

pls8xx 11-11-2009 09:00 AM

RJ said:

“It has been beautiful this past week so I have been outside working as much as possible. Rain yesterday and today though - so I am back on the computer - and letting my back recuperate!”

Your questions here suggest you do not have a clear and comprehensive plan of action for your project. It’s likely that you are doing the work in an improper sequence as well as doing things that are not needed while ignoring the things that should be done. Stop work.

“I do have a scaled plan with approximate elevations on paper and a rough draft in excel. The elevations are quite consistent through out the yard. I am thinking of buying a program called "Chief Architect Landscaping & Deck Designer 9.0" to help out. Any thoughts on this??

You said "
structural elements that are connected should be built from the bottom up". Do you mean things like the dry creek beds? Is that true even if it takes several months to complete them? My concern is that the bottom will get overrun by soil eroding in the case of heavy rains before I complete the top.”

Many of the questions you present have a site specific solution. It is unrealistic to ask us to write a book length response that would cover all cases. You can help us to help you by posting the scale plan along with photos of the site and soils. This would be true considering the questions on construction of the dry creek beds. If you are a homeowner doing a one time project and already have a base map, any design software is probably a waste of time and money.

“Grass cover won't work for me. I have reseeded for three years in a row now, and between the clay soil, the rain and the dogs - it has been a waste of time and money.”

A clay sub base on a moderate slope is excellent for a beautiful lawn. If you failed it’s because you went about it the wrong way.

“One last question. The areas where the dry creek beds will be built are already eroded into mini creeks when it rains. Since they are in the areas with trees there are some roots exposed here and there. Do you have knowledge on what to do about those? My plan for the creek beds was to be about 6" deep in the middle and two to three feet wide.”

While it is possible to route surface drainage through existing trees, the skills and knowledge needed for success are usually beyond what most homeowners have. I can’t be more specific without the drawing and photos.



James

RJ99 11-11-2009 09:42 AM

Hi,

The work I was doing this last week was in some existing raised beds, building a bench and table, and putting a coat of sealer on some existing wood and decks - so no damage done.

Needing a plan of action is why I posted in the first place... I am an IT program manager professionally and planning and fixing troubled projects are my specialties - so no need to worry about my diving in without the plan! Right now, I am being very conscientious to only do things that will not impact later tasks.

Regarding grass - I think the failure is primarily due to the dogs. My front yard is great! I am researching various ground covers once I have the terracing done, and as mentioned previously - hardscaping for the most run on areas.

I will try to get the drawing in if I can get it into a more readable form. Excel is not much good for drawing. I will also try to get pictures in too.

Thanks again.
RJ


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