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Building a road in wet soil

Building a road in wet soilI really appreciated everyone's feedback on my ditch experiment, especially the reader who sent me to this excellent webpage.  Apparently, mounding the dirt from the ditches up on top of the road is the solution, a technique known as a turnpike.  For best results, we'll want to splurge on some geotextile fabric to go under the new dirt --- the stuff at Lowes is expensive ($1/linear foot and up), but probably worth it.  Maybe that will be our next big expenditure (plus renting heavy equipment to make the digging go easier) once chicken waterer season kicks in next year and we're feeling more flush.

Ditch full of water

In the meantime, I thought you might like to see the results of our hand-dug experiment.  Wednesday night's rain raised the groundwater level by six or seven inches, so it was easy to see what was going on in our little ditches.  They definitely filled up, but they don't seem to be moving the water away from the road so much as collecting it in place.

I suspect that we need to commit to making the perpendicular ditch slope all the way down to the alligator swamp (the old bed of Sinking Creek) if we want the ditches to be effective in draining moisture away from the road.  If we feel really industrious this winter, we may dig that side ditch out by hand, but it's brutal digging in the swamp --- so much easier to forget about the problem and hope it goes away....



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You need to befriend someone with a small dozer and a dump truck!
Comment by Eric Sun Nov 3 08:57:39 2013
I put some driveway over a marsh on my land and used the woven geo-textile. It was a little more, but well worth it. With a 4" layer of 'camp road' material full dump trucks (20+ yards, not just a pickup) can drive over it without sinking in. If you go geotextile get the highest grade you can, probably at a local building store. I got mine at Paris Farmer's Union in Maine.
Comment by Anonymous Sun Nov 3 08:58:04 2013

I think that pieces of thick rugs would work as a separator between roadbase and the muck underneath. I have had to remove a large piece of buried rug before and the stuff ties the soil above pretty good. just a thought. you could go to town and look for a large roll of discarded rug (maybe near apartment complexes, etc) and test it on a section of your road. it would be cheap experiment to see if you could replace that fabric with a reclaimed material.

also, two years ago I bought a roll of weed barrier from Sam's club. this year I dug in the area by accident and to my surprise the barrier was intact down there. maybe that material laid down in 3 or 4 layers could do as well...

Comment by Pedro Sun Nov 3 12:03:23 2013
They have geotextile fabric available online as well. The weight in ounces per yard is an important factor in what the intended purpose is and how puncture resistant it is. Depending on the manufacturer you may want to see what they recommend. We just purchased a small roll of 8oz/ yard to try putting at the bottom of our raised beds in the backyard to try and reduce the number of tree roots we have entering from the surrounding area.
Comment by Brian Mon Nov 4 10:14:56 2013

I suspect that we need to commit to making the perpendicular ditch slope all the way down to the alligator swamp (the old bed of Sinking Creek) if we want the ditches to be effective in draining moisture away from the road.

Yes. Without a gradient, water won't go anywhere... You don't need much though. A large river can do fine with a gradient of 5 in/mile. The smaller the channel, the bigger the gradient that you'll need. This is because smaller channels have more hydraulic resistance at a given speed.

I think that pieces of thick rugs would work as a separator between roadbase and the muck underneath.

Generally, rugs from natural materials will rot away. Rugs made from artificial fibers have a good chance of containing fire retardants. Now those could be relatively harmless stuff like ammonium polyphosphate or aluminum hydroxide. But it could also be nasty chlorine or bromine compounds.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Nov 4 16:22:25 2013
Could you call that ditch a swale and plant water-loving plants along it? :-)
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Nov 12 16:19:39 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime