Asked on Oct 23, 2012

Problem with erosion in trench

Pamela Harley ThompaonJanetBill P


Like most houses, I have a slightly slopped area covered in centipede and Bermuda parallel to the road where rain water has flown for 15 years. Early this spring a gully-washer formed a trench that turned the area into a small Grand Canyon, 8-12 inches deep. I put standard size gravel in the trench to prevent further washing until I could work on it. Since then we have had two more heavy rains; both times the runoff wasted the gravel into my unhappy neighbor's yard. Each time I have had to collect the gravel and return it to my yard. I have now put old bricks along the trench to slow down further erosion. I also put in larger gravel (apple-size) between the bricks. I worked "top-soil" into the gravel and left about three inches of soil on top. Two questions:1. Did I do the right thing or did I create a mess?2. What should I plant? It's late October in mid-Georgia.Bill in Williamson, GA
Drainage area along road
10 answers
  • KMS Woodworks
    on Oct 23, 2012

    I would think some type of grass could sprout in the fall...we have huge tracks of winter wheat here in the west that get planted in the fall and pretty much grow till spring.

  • 360 Sod (Donna Dixson)
    on Oct 23, 2012

    Bill is it possible for you to get a picture? I would like to take a look at the slope and berm standing parallel to drainage issue. Can you expand on your question about planting? Do you mean over the 'french drain' you created? If that is the case, I would put down some annual rye grass to hold until spring, but not committing to that as the correct option until I see the photos

  • By installing anything in the trench such as gravel and bricks you are in effect re-routing the water every time it rains by displacing its normal track. This can in effect cause additional erosion in that area. The issue you have is that it takes time for grasses and vegetation to grow that would slow down or stop the erosion process when it rains. Particularly in the fall when growing tends to slow down or stop. I would simply keep the larger stone in place until the spring, then remove it, smooth down the trench, as your not going to be able to fill it in with much success. Then replant it using the fastest growing grass you can find. As this begins to take hold, you can then replant other deeper rooted plants that will resist erosion of the soils. I assume Four Seasons can tell you much better then I what types of plantings would work best for your climate and conditions.

    • DORLIS
      on Aug 22, 2015

      @Woodbridge Environmental we had this problem in the ditch in front of our house (gravel road in the woods) we put in rip rap (rock the size of your fist and a bit larger. it is large enough to not be washed out and allows the water to flow through and around it. it has been there for at least 8 years. it looks nice, only problem is you need to pull any weeds that sprout there or you can plant native plants and water lovers. i have bee balm, daisies, short sunflowers and most all of the flowers for bee and butterfly food. if you are like Missouri, there was a lot of rain for a long time. the village in the vally below me flooded, 5' over flood stage.

  • Acorn Ponds & Waterfalls
    on Oct 23, 2012

    By installing a surface drainage system you can direct the water from your downspout anywhere you want. The green cover illustrated is actually installed at ground level and will pop up when it rains. You can also add a dry well(hole lined with landscape fabric and filled with rock) directly under the pop up cover to absorb water

    , Surface Drainage System Drainage Solutions
  • KneeDeep Ponds, Inc.
    on Oct 25, 2012

    I concur with Acorn if the source of the run off is a down spout issue. If it is the result of the 'natural' lay of the land I might treat it differently. You can take the eroded area and use it to your advantage by removing the stuff you put in there and dig out about 12-18" below finished grade. Get a geo-fabric (Mirafi or similar) do not use retail landscape fabric (too light). Line the trench so that there is enough fabric to completely surround the 3/4" gravel you will place in the trench. What you are creating is a place for the run to go below grade and slowly work back into the ground. If there is no out fall then I would go with the 'French drain' suggested by Acorn at the end of the trench as added drainage area. This should be about a foot deeper than the trench. Back fill the trench with the 3/4"...wait a There product will reduce the job to one day and no broken back. The principle is still the same get the extra water back into the subsurface strata.

  • KneeDeep Ponds, Inc.
    on Oct 25, 2012 still have plenty of time to get this fixed

  • Acorn Ponds & Waterfalls
    on Oct 29, 2012

    Hi Bill, I did not understand the problem earlier. There is a chance the topsoil could get washed out again. If so, I would talk to the town and see what options you have. Some towns have regulations and it looks like this could be town property. It may be possible for you to use a drain tile in the trench allowing an avenue for the water to run out easily. Installing water loving plants is another option. For now, you could put down a healthy amount of grass seed with something over it(burlap or hay) to protect the soil and seed from washing out in the event of another storm. Also have to put a little extra seed down for the birds.

  • Bill P
    on Oct 29, 2012

    Planting"water loving plants" in front of my house along to road side is notdesirable. I'm no expert but it seems that concentrating all the water flow into one tight area (a drain tile) would discharge the water at the property line at more powerful rate creating a worse situation for my neighbor. I have planted fescue and have put down haystraw to try to slow down any erosion until the seeds germinate. By summer the other grasses should start taking over the area with fescue.

  • Janet
    on Aug 9, 2015

    Burlap or old rugs ( flipped so only backing shows) and lots of grass seeds. Surprised that the Bermuda is not working. So maybe it will attach to these. If cities or county fault you should make them fix the problem.

  • Pamela Harley Thompaon
    on Mar 20, 2016

    If it stays wet; I like the water loving plants idea. I've been able to find large clumps of yellow flag iris on sites like "free-cycle." They are invasive for people who add them to small ponds and, are frequently disposed of. I added some to the chronically damp front of my house. It does a good job of absorbing the water and adding a long decorative grass but, it hasn't taken off like crazy or bloomed due to the lack of light so close to the house. Alas, this weekend's project is re-digging the 30 year old french trench. We hope it helps because, the water has been getting under the house and growing black mold x_x

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