Drainage ditch

ontario_backyard(5a)July 20, 2013

I have couple of common problems with a shallow drainage on my property:
- the weed growing in it is always spreading to the lawn
- after rainfall, the standing water is a breeding site for mosquitoes

I am thinking of solving the problems by covering the ditch with rough gravel.

How do I best go about it?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your proposed solution, sounds like something that will cause trouble in other ways. If possible, please show a picture of the problem area (not too close up) that illustrates the problem.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 8:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a picture of the shallow draining ditch which runs along the back fence of my property. The purpose of the shallow draining ditch is to prevent water from running from my property to the property at the back. The entire neighborhood is on a slight slope, I am on the left/high side, my neighbor in the back is on the right/low side.

My side neighbor (towards/beyond the back of the picture) has covered his shallow draining ditch with coarse gravel about a decade ago, apparently without causing any other problems.

However, I would nevertheless appreciate sage advice on how to best go about the project!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First, what problem will covering the ditch with gravel solve? It won't eliminate weeds and keep them away. That must be done by other methods. Second, if there is standing water after a rain, it indicates there is something wrong with the grading of the ditch or the path at which the water exits. In you picture, which way is downhill ... up, left or down, right? Can you provide a picture that shows how your next door neighbor has covered the ditch in stone mulch?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here is a picture of the ditch covered in stone mulch. There aren’t any weeds growing through the stone mulch. How deep must the stone mulch be? I can’t ask my next door neighbor, he would not know, the previous owner did it.

In my previous picture, the water is supposed to run to the right, for some reason it does not. I don’t get any water from the other side either, i.e. from the gravel-covered side.

I can’t solve the drainage problem for the whole neighborhood, I just want a solution for my property as neat as my neighbor’s.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Even if several inches deep, the stone will eventually give way to weeds. It's inevitable. (Go look at an old gravel driveway for the proof.) Based on the fence construction details (with the retaining rail added) it looks like the neighbor piled on the gravel quite thick. The first question I'd be asking myself is why doesn't the water drain. Look over the fence at the right side (where it's supposed to drain.) Did the neighbor there add soil or construct something to stop the flow of your water?

Back to the weeds ... why not just spray a crisp edge of weed killer and mulch it with some organic-based mulch ... like bark or wood chips or something like that? It would prevent future headaches that gravel would cause.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 4:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, the ditch was covered with gravel in a smart way, it did not cause any headaches. After about a decade, there are no weeds. I like to know how it is done. Perhaps:

- deepen the ditch first to 1 foot before covering with gravel?
- make the sides of the ditch go straight down (not sloping)?
- add railroad ties to both sides of the ditch? I’d like to have a convenient mowing strip too.

I think I have to take it as a given that the water does not drain to the right, I don’t want to spend money on my neighbor’s ditch. All I can see is a big rock in the ditch to prevent his dog from crouching under the fence and escape to my property. The big rock does not really obstruct water flow.

Anyway, I want to spend money on my own ditch. I do not want to overdesign nor underdesign the project. How do I get the best bang for my buck?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 1:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No one has suggested you spend money on anyone else's ditch. But it would be important to know if a neighbor impeded the flow of your drainage. If they did, you could have them unimpede it for free!

It is not for the one placing the gravel that the headaches are caused. It is for those who must remove it later.

If you want to get the most bang for the buck, you need to know what the elevations along the drainage swale actually are. To find out, purchase a line level (they're very inexpensive) and some mason's twine (enough to span your yard.) Drive a stake firmly into the ground at each end of the drainage swale, which is probably corners of the yard. Tie the twine tightly to the left stake about 6" above the ground. Run the line to the right stake and adjust it so that the line level reads level when it is hung at the center position of the tightly stretched string. (The black horizontal line in my picture. The twine must not sag from the weight of the level.) Beginning at the left stake, measure the vertical distance from line to ground at regular intervals --every 10' or so-- and plot this on paper. (These are the red vertical lines in my picture.) Whatever the smallest vertical distance is that you measured, subtract that exact number from ALL of the measurements. (Represented by the green line in my picture.) The smallest vertical distance will become 0. (Yellow line in my picture.) All the other measurements will tell you how far below 0 the grade is dropping. Theoretically, the far right stake should have the greatest value BELOW 0, (the greatest difference below the surface elevation at the left-most stake. In theory, you could set the line up at 0 and forgetting about the subtraction process. But in real life, there are usually weeds, grass, rocks, and bumps in the way so it's easier to span over them and do the subtraction.

After plotting these measurements on a piece of paper, you will know exactly how the ground slopes within the drainage swale. It will indicate where the problems are, for example, if you have a dip that can't drain in the swale, and needs to be filled. If there is not sufficient pitch across the whole width of the yard, that would also indicate how grade needs to be adjusted. If you have sufficient fall and water is stopped where it leaves the property, that indicates the problem is downhill from your property.

The most bang for the buck would be do get the slope corrected and then place 2-3" organic mulch over it to impede weeds. If the problem is with the neighbor, get them to fix their part at no cost to you. But first, find out where the problem lies.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is unrealistic to expect that my neighbor spends money to help me with my ditch. The fault may not even reside on his property. It could very well be that the fault runs through the entire neigborhood.

What I need is a design for the gravel covered ditch that works so well for my neighbor. Nobody would take such a useful feature out. I don’t want to just throw gravel in the ditch as is. I want to properly prepare the ditch and need a design with cross-section of the ditch, edging, materials, etc. I hope such design is forthcoming.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was trying to help you find ways of discovering where the problem lies. Wouldn't it be a waste of time to create a 12" deep trench of gravel if it's not needed, which I'm pretty sure is the case? It certainly doesn't fit well as being "bang for the buck." Apparently you don't care what the cause of the problem is and are only interested moving forth with a pre-determined solution. If you like what your neighbor has, just copy it and you have your design.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, that was my guess of what was done. It was a guess out of blue sky. If 6” of gravel were sufficient, for example, then that would be the best bang for the buck.

I am looking for a practical solution. The ditch was constructed decades ago when the neighborhood was being developed. The ditch has certainly deteriorated along its entire length as it runs along the back fences of more than a dozen properties. Not all property owners consider it a problem, they may not want to spend any money on what they do not consider a problem. Fact is, that apart from the one neighbor, nobody else did anything.

I myself happen to like the result of what the one neighbor has achieved, just that I do not know how exactly the result has been achieved. For example, if I deepen the ditch to 12”, I will certainly get backup water under the gravel. This may or may not be a problem, but issues like this need to be considered in the design of the project. Things are thus not as simple as 'just copy the design'.

Anyway, if anyone ‘has been there, done that’ I would appreciate hearing about it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 3:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you have it in your mind that there is only one way to solve your problem, if indeed you have a problem, then words about anything else will be wasted breath. Since I cannot come to your house and prop open your eyes to other possibilities, I'll make this last stab and let it go.

For all practical purposes, it does not matter whether neighbors upstream or downstream of your yard have drainage problems. If water is collecting in their yards, it does not also mean that water is collecting in your yard. The only possibility of a neighbor affecting you is your immediate downhill neighbor. He cannot legally block drainage from coming out of your yard. I have asked you to observe if he has done this, but you will not answer that question, saying instead that you don't want to make him spend any money. If instead, you would just peer over the fence and observe if he's built raised gardens or some such thing in the ditch, then we could ascertain FACTS about drainage, instead of hearing ideas about your philosophy on social justice. If water is not stopping at your downhill neighbor's property, then we know that any problem lies within your own yard.

At that point, it's necessary to determine if your yard CAN drain, or not. It can drain, IF the right corner of the yard is lower than the left corner (which brings us to the next question you refused to answer.) If the yard can drain, but there are puddles left immediately after a rain, it tells us that there are low spots at the bottom of your drainage ditch, or high spots rising up above the bottom of the ditch. Low spots only need to be filled to the bottom surface of the uniform slope, which is probably a VERY MINOR task. Or high spots need to be scraped off. Again, probably a very minor task. Possibly, there might need to be a little of each in order to restore a uniform plane to the bottom of the ditch. But once it's achieved, there will be no puddling and no possibility of raising mosquitos within the ditch. So far, nothing in the solution of drainage requires adding any gravel to the ditch.

Once it is determined that the ditch can and will drain, one must determine how to reconcile maintenance of it. One person might prefer to grow grass (instead of weeds) all the way to the fence and use a string trimmer to give it a clean edge. Another person might prefer to have a strip of mulch along the fence. It depends on the volume and speed of water that runs through the ditch to determine what kind of mulch and installation configuration a person would use. (This is information you have not provided.) Another person might be inclined to turn the ditch into a groundcover planting bed so that there is no mowing within it.

If gravel mulch is your preferred solution, then at least realize that it's purpose it to combat weeds (which it is not very good at,) not make a difference in whether the ditch drains. It's drainage depends on there being uniformly slopikng grade -- information you you have not provided -- not mulch. Why would anyone here wish to help you achieve the APPEARANCE of a solution, instead of an ACTUAL solution? It seems to me that if you are possibly willing to excavate a 12" deep trench, transport and dispose of the excavated material, and then fill it with gravel, you should be willing to do something that is much less work and cost and actually solves the problem and ends up with an easier to manage result. But it's not apparent that this is true. It seems like you are resistant to going in any direction but that which you set about prior to making your first post in this thread.

You CAN prevent weeds with gravel if you just make it deep enough. Observing any railroad tracks demonstrates that. But if in order to make gravel deep enough within a seasonal waterway, it means that you must create a bowl (trench) in which to place the gravel that will fill with water when rains come. How long the standing water within the gravel persists depends on the porosity of the soil at the bottom of the trench. While at the surface things might look dandy, is that really the ideal solution?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey, Yardvaark, slow down a little, I did provide you with the facts. To mention just a couple of things, I asserted very clearly that the water is supposed to flow to the right. I don’t need to measure with twine and level to make that assertion. I just look at the depth of the standing water after rainfall, and I can see the smooth slope without any high or low spots, as you can also see from the picture that I provided. Thus, my ditch CAN drain, although something is preventing it from draining.

Is it my immediate downhill neighbor to the right that impedes the water flow? I answered that question too, and the answer is no. I did peer over the fence - more than once over a protracted period of time, actually - and I see only this large rock in his ditch that does not impede the water flow, I did mention that too.

I disagree with you that it is only my immediate downhill neighbor who could impede the water flow. It could very well be the second, third, … neighbor to the right who could impede the water flow, there are more than a dozen properties along the length of the ditch as I said.

It is certainly not a matter of my philosophy of social justice, it is mere pragmatics to look for a local solution, i.e. a solution for my portion of the ditch only, just like what my neighbor to the left did. Taking people to court - along with the attendant legal, technical, and organizational efforts - would cost me much, much more than a local solution.

Does it have to be a gravel-cover solution? No, it does not have to be. But it is a neat solution that I know can be made to work - if I only knew how exactly, obviously I don’t want to spend effort on correcting any mistakes. The gravel-cover solution is weed-free after about a decade, that’s good enough for me.

Another possible solution is growing grass in the ditch. In fact, a shallow strip of about 3 foot long on the far left has already grown grass, since I don’t get any water flow from the neighbor on the left, as I mentioned. Perhaps I can cover the rest of the ditch with top soil to make it shallow enough to grow - and mow - grass there too.

Anyway, comments from anyone welcome!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 2:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Did you ever say how long it takes for the standing water to vanish?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand the facts you pointed out. It's the one's you left out that are the roadblock.

Who said anything about taking anyone to court? If a neighbor builds a "dam" not grasping that's it's going to block your drainage, then most likely, if they're a decent average Joe, they'd undo the damage as soon as it was pointed out. If they're not a nice Joe, then a phone call or quick visit to the municipality, would probably take care of it. For free.

"...I just look at the depth of the standing water after rainfall, and I can see the smooth slope without any high or low spots..."

I can see the disconnect now. It is not physically possible to have STANDING WATER on a SMOOTH SLOPE. Such a thing could happen only on a planet with laws of nature different than Earth.

"...It could very well be the second, third, … neighbor to the right who could impede the water flow, there are more than a dozen properties along the length of the ditch..."

Again, it simply could not happen. It's not physically possible unless there is a Biblical type flood with major water backing up through these properties. If that were the case, surely you'd have made mention of it. Since water seeks the lowest level, it could not back up into your yard from a downhill neighbor until the yard next to you fills up completely. If water is being slowed by an obstruction 2 lots down, it will have zero effect on your yard.

"Perhaps I can cover the rest of the ditch with top soil to make it shallow enough to grow - and mow - grass there too."

It would be highly inadvisable (and possibly illegal and likely detrimental to you) for you to add soil to make the ditch more shallow .. without first grasping how to guaranty that the water flow remains unimpeded.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 7:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What’s so difficult to understand that a dam-like structure like a raised garden at 2 lots downstreams will cause standing water in my lot and 1 lot downstreams? I can’t see beyond 1 lot, because all lots are fenced in with board-on-board fences. What I did say is that a dam-like structure could be present anywhere downstreams in more than a dozen lots.

I think that it is moot to discuss the cause of standing water, because I am effectively at the end of the drainage chain. As I said, I do not get any water from my upstream neighbor which is the one with the gravel-covered ditch. It may well be that he dug the trench so deep as to effectively create an elongated dry well absorbing all water that he himself gets from further upstream. He has an in-ground swimming pool, and it would not surprise me if that dry well has been designed with enough capacity to absorb any water from a leak in the swimming pool.

Anyway, since I am effectively at the end of the drainage chain, if I cover the ditch with top soil, I merely move the end of the drainage chain 1 lot further, so what?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 10:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You still do not say how long the water takes to vanish.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 3:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I think that it is moot to discuss the cause of standing water.."

Isn't combatting the existence of standing water the central purpose of your inquiry?

"Anyway, since I am effectively at the end of the drainage chain, if I cover the ditch with top soil, I merely move the end of the drainage chain 1 lot further, so what?"

To some degree you will be damming your uphill neighbor's drainage. There are still many facts about your situation and the neighborhood conditions that are not known. If you cover the ditch with topsoil, it might go unnoticed during conventional rains, due to the water sucking "open pit french drain" your uphill neighbor has installed. But when the monster storms hit, it will be evident that an obstruction to the flow of water is in your yard and was caused by you. (If you're a "good Joe" neighbor, you'll remove the obstruction as soon as it is brought to your attention.)

If there is water obstruction 2 lots down, then it's certain that your next door neighbor, one lot down, will be affected by the backing up water before it reaches your yard your yard. You cannot have backing up water before he gets it so it would be easy to determine if it's the case. It's also hard to imagine that water could not find another way around a damming structure so far away before it could reach your yard.

But you should focus on how water is being retained on a "smooth slope." There's a tremendous contradiction in that concept.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yardvaark, there are those that can be helped and those that can't. Been there, done that. I'm sorry that it seems you wasted your time doing a set of detailed instructions on how to begin the assessment of a drainage problem. But all is not lost. Others will read your replies and be better informed.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gee, folks, what is so difficult to understand that I can observe standing water where the bottom is on a smooth slope? The surface of the standing water is still level. Very simple, no contradiction whatsoever. Remember that I was saying that in response to measuring the slope with twine and level. There is no need for doing so. I can easily see the smooth slope in the standing water after rainfall. On one end of the smooth slope the depth of the standing water is shallow, on the other end of the smooth slope the depth of the standing water is deep.

Capri? Or still not Capri?

There should now be sufficient information to come up with a design, I don’t want to waste my breath either providing so much info without getting any useful design suggestions.

If my own idea of covering the ditch with top soil has the only disadvantage of damming my uphill neighbor, then that’s not a disadvantage at all. As I said, I don’t get any water from him, he has absorbed all water in all weather conditions for about a decade.

I should perhaps take this to a different forum where I get useful design suggestions without the influx of spam and hateful comments, disappointing.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 6:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


This forum has long had a reputation for responses that you might characterize as "hateful". For the most part such comments are a case of people being told what they need to know rather than what they want to hear.

There are not many discussions here where I participate. Many are outside my area of expertise. When it comes to drainage issues, I have over 50 years of experience. I mostly do volunteer work now, but if I do work for a fee, it's at $150 per hour. I didn't respond to your request for help simply because you were already receiving professional level advice.

And here I am again, telling someone what they need to know rather that what they want to hear.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 10:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"On one end of the smooth slope the depth of the standing water is shallow, on the other end of the smooth slope the depth of the standing water is deep."

And what, pray tell, is holding the water in place at its deeper end? On a SMOOTH slope, it would continue to flow, unimpeded, down the hill ... like the bottom of your bathtub.

As for "hateful" comments I see none ... but seeing how you interpret laws of nature, I can guess at a perception problem.

ps8xx, I was already agreeing with your first post here ... BEFORE you posted it!

[With this post, I retract my previous suggestion of how to use stakes & string to locate imperfections in the slope. It would be simpler to place the taught string, instead of level, so it skims the entire surface and look for imperfection differentials that way. And then measure the slope separately. Noted for posterity.]

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 11:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey Yardvaark and pls8xx, put some water in a cooking pan and tilt it a little. Surprise, surprise, there is standing water on a smooth slope, against all supposed laws of nature. The dam is anywhere in any of the more than one dozen properties downstreams.

I have tried to explain this in at least a half dozen ways by now, and if there is anyone is not willing to understand, then it is you two who don’t want to understand something so utterly simple.

I am a retired engineer, BTW, although not a soil engineer. But I do have the technical background to judge what is useful advice or not. Sorry to say, but this has not been useful advice, this has been a tirade against an advice seeker.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ontario I am not hateful but you have me confused also.Water should flow from the high side to the shallow side and keep going unless blocked.When it rains hard here I have some standing water too. It eventually is absorbed by the soil. Some times I go out during the rain and use a hoe to make sure it is flowing as I like it.This is an eye opener for me because I did not know mosquitoes could live in a place so cold.There is a soil forum on GW

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ontario, I'll ask just one question. When there is standing water on your lot and also on your downstream neighbor, does the standing water persist longer on your lot or on your neighbor's lot?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 2:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"... put some water in a cooking pan and tilt it a little. Surprise, surprise, there is standing water on a smooth slope..."

In this case are you talking about the film of surface tension water on the higher portion of the pan bottom -- that is 1/300" depth and will evaporate in minutes -- or the puddle of water that collects at the lower portion where the bottom and side of pan meet (and will be there for 3 or 4 days)? You are describing your yard conditions as the former, but claiming it behaves like the latter.

Since there are plenty of people who've seen the thread, if there is anyone who is NOT confused by Ontario's claims and descriptions, let them step forward and explain how those two things are reconciled. If no one does, I'd say it's a universal stumping.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 7:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
feijoas(New Zealand)

I'll step forward, but for different reasons than Yardvaark suggests.
ontario_backyard, I can only assume you aren't meaning to be rude, and I hope you don't intend your posts to come across as I read them.
The people who offer suggestions on this forum do it for free, because they enjoy friendly, supportive interaction, and want to help others.

my original post sounded rude. Edited to be a bit less hypocritical!

This post was edited by feijoas on Fri, Jul 26, 13 at 2:42

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 7:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The drawing below shows a section view of the ditch right after rainfall.

A = immediate upstream lot with the gravel-covered ditch, dry, shown in second picture I posted in the above

B = my lot, extreme left is dry, right side is wet, shown in the first picture I posted in the above

C = immediate downstream lot, wet, no visible obstruction

D = second downstream lot, where I drew an obstruction, although the obstruction could be in lot E, F, G, etc. I cannot see beyond 1 lot because of the fences

Clear now?

Anyway, I do not want to go downstreams. Only people on different planets with different laws of nature want to spend money to solve somebody else’s problem. People on planet Earth do not do that without a court order. This is simply not an option for me. (This is the rude language that I have been exposed to, to set the record straight)

As I said, I want to solve the problem on my own lot, and I have in mind 2 potential solutions. The first one is a gravel-covered ditch as in A. The second one is a topsoil-covered ditch. I need pros, cons, designs, etc.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 9:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the diagram you are offering now is true, then you cannot solve this problem on your lot. You will need to own lot "A" instead. His problem is solved not because he put a crazy amount of gravel in a trench, but because he lives on higher land.

It is ridiculous to be talking about a court order and great expense for yourself. If the diagram is true, then your next door neighbor, lot "C", has an even greater interest than yourself in seeing the problem corrected. And you say there may be more neighbors downstream who may be affected. The farther one is downstream, the greater their incentive for doing something about it. There is not a municipality in existence that would allow a condition like you've illustrated to remain unfixed if it was brought to their attention. It would cost you nothing.

Must I put a :-) after every smart remark I make!!!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 9:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

OK, here is a plan for keeping your ditch dry. It may or may not be physically possible to implement this plan. It looks like it will work, but I would guess about a 1 in 4 probability the existing grade would allow it. And nobody is going to know if it is possible or not until you go do the very thing Yardvaark told you to do to start with.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 10:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


To the left of lot A are 3 more lots at even higher elevations. The gravel-covered ditch of lot A thus drains 4 lots, as the far left of my lot B is dry. Before lot A built the gravel-covered ditch, lot A was wet too. The gravel-covered ditch of lot A is VERY effective. I would need a design for draining only 1 lot, my own lot B.

You may be young and believe in municipalities, good Joes, etc. I prefer to solve the problem on my own lot. Frankly, I am getting tired of ‘going downstream’, I won’t discuss that anymore.

What I want to discuss is a design that drains the 1 lot B. Or compare it to a topsoil covered design, etc.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 10:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ah finally a design, big, big, thanks! Looks like a regrade with a topsoil cover will work, it is cheaper too! Let me analyze the design for a little while, I may have further questions :-)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 10:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just keep in mind that "plan" is a lie with little chance being compatible with your situation. The only way to know is to collect the elevation data we have been asking for.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 11:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The 2% gradient in the longitudinal direction of the ditch (along the ditch) should work. It merely moves the end of the drainage chain from the far left of my lot B to the far right and off of my lot B.

Now let’s look in the other, transversal direction to the ditch (across the ditch) as per drawing below showing a transversal section view. There is a gradient in the transversal direction too, with my lot on the high side and the lot in the back on the low side. Compare this drawing to the second picture I posted in the above. The width of the ditch is about 2 feet.

I have been thinking of leaving a shallow depression profile as per solid line in the drawing rather than a complete fill as per dotted line in the drawing. On the one hand, not only my lot, but also the lot in the back benefits from the end of the drainage chain being moved, both lots get less water. On the other hand, in case of a complete fill as per dotted line in the drawing, water may run over it. That’s what the shallow depression is supposed to prevent. The amount of water running over may be so minimal as to be a non-issue. Then a complete fill would make mowing grass easier.

Any comments?

(The dry strip on the far left of my lot B happens to have a shallow depression profile, BTW. The dry strip is about 3 foot long. I have thus about 3 foot of positive experience with a shallow depression profile. Granted, 3 foot is not much)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 10:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

FWIW, I have decided to go with the shallow depression profile with a depth of one-fifth the original depth of the ditch.

Originally, my ditch had to carry water from 5 lots, my lot being #5 from the head end of the ditch. Now that my ditch does not receive any water any more from the immediate upstream lot (i.e. the one with the gravel-covered ditch), my ditch has to carry water from only 1 lot, i.e. from my own lot. I can thus reduce the depth of the ditch to one-fifth, which is the design with the shallow depression profile.

The shallow depression profile allows for growing grass and convenient mowing even in the deepest depression on the extreme right of my lot. That solves the weed problem. The deepest depression will also be dry after rainfall. That solves the mosquito problem in part, as the downstream lot will still have standing water after rainfall, but that is the best that can be done locally.

Interesting thread, complete with people posting their hourly fees, selling computer games, etc etc :-)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 8:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I'm late to join this thread/argument....!

I'm from Ontario too - lots of WNV around this area - I wonder if you're in the same area....? If your drainage ditch is part of a drainage system for a subdivision, your first step should be to contact the appropriate municipal - or Regional - authority before doing anything. Given the attention/publicity to flood issues this spring/summer (e.g. Calgary), I very much doubt that you would be ignored - someone is likely to want to come take a look and offer advice/tell you what you can/cannot do.

Eliminating standing water will help reduce mosquito breeding sites (how long does the water remain before either draining away or soaking in?) but will not eliminate mosquitos entirely if the area (not just your property but surrounding ones too...) is shady. We have no standing water here but LOTS of mosquitoes because the backyard is very shady. We simply don't use the backyard at certain times of day - and I garden in a 'bug shirt'.

Given the chemical bans, weeds are best addressed by clearing them out well in early spring and then checking the area daily to remove any you see before they get established. Large-leafed plants that shade the ground also help discourage weeds because many weed seeds need light to germinate. Careful plant selection might help with the weed issue depending on light conditions in that area. I very much doubt that your neighbour's gravel ditch remains weed-free due to the gravel. I would guess he/she is diligent about removing any weeds promptly before they have time to establish. In my observations of ditches in the neighbourhood that use gravel and/or river rock, they quickly become a weedy mess if ignored and a PITA to remove the gravel/rocks if you experience problems or change your mind about what you want. Gravel would not be my choice as a solution for that reason if nothing else!

Please talk to the appropriate authorities before you do anything. Give them a chance to prove they can be helpful.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 2:33PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Shrubs need to get pulled out U-G-L-Y
Hi Forum Members: I recently bought my house and the...
Spacing for Armstrong Maple and Crimson Spire Oak
I plan to provide height to the borders of my backyard...
Bob Sislow
Do any of you see any red flags with this design?
We got a landscape design for our new yard that we...
Need privacy in backyard on three sides (zone 6)
I really like my neighbors but I live in the suburbs...
Where to find 3/8" minus gravel in NY/NJ??
Our community garden is planning to rehabilitate our...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™