Went out today with shovel and five-gallon bucket to work with water flow. The recent torrential rains showed me the channels the rainwater flows through. It flows down the tire tracks of the uphill driveway to the Caudill cemetery. In a big rain, the tracks become a river. I discovered a flow line I had not known or anticipated that runs down the walkway to the steps to the deck, flows under the steps and along a channel beside the house's foundation wall and empties in a big delta on the lower deck. Also, a thing that I suppose the "landscaper" took for a bridge. It's a dam. It directs the torrent coming down from the roof directly onto the lower deck, making a kind of delta of silt on the lower deck. I took shovel to the dam, dug out a bucketful of leaves, then dug some rocks in a place that needed to be deeper for water flow to run under the bridge/dam, tossed the rocks up the hill toward the place I aim to reinforce with rocks where small canyons have opened in the place where the water running down the hill from the flooded parking area is concentrated and eats away the dirt. I'll fill in the ruts with rocks. I'll use them to direct water flow as well as fill in the canyons.
The rains washed out some small canyons in the driveway where it enters the road. Another place where the water runs down the tire tracks on gravel. A bit of a sharper slope increases the rate of water flow and it becomes a torrent in the last thirty feet or so. Over years I have kept the ruts filled with rock. It's fairly firm by now, though this last rain opened some new places. I'll fill them with rocks. Sediment that washes over the rock fills in the spaces between and locks them in place like cement. It is an ongoing concern in that part of the driveway. The rain washed some gravel into the road. I'll take the snow shovel and put them in the bucket. I'll lay them in the driveway in the region where the water doesn't flow so fast. The builders wanted to put gravel on it, when the driveway is excellent without gravel. The gravel washes into the road and eventually needs more gravel. Filling the ruts with rocks works. It doesn't cost anything and it solves the problem. To pave it would make a ditch along the side of the paved driveway. I don't want more gravel put in the driveway. It just washes away, no more than a temporary fix, an expensive temporary fix. Pave it and there comes a time it needs repaving. A paved driveway tells thieves that people with money live there.
I'm building a berm to direct water flow away from the place it runs under the steps and alongside the house. The rain washed leaves, twigs and pine needles in small piles in my walkway. I'm filling the five-gallon bucket with this wet debris and dumping it in a line that is an angle to the flow down the area beside the tire tracks to the cemetery. There's no rush. A bucket a day. Then I'm lining them with small rocks to hold it in place while it redirects a river. I want to plant day lilies behind the berm. Seeds galore will fill them with roots to hold them in place as they shrink to the ground over years. In the years the berm sinks, the day lilies will be growing and multiplying. Their dense root system and the thickness they grow into will take the place of the berm and redirect the water permanently, better every year. I may encourage Dutch iris along the stretch where the water flows beside the tire tracks. The iris will slow the water flow and direct it back to the tracks to carry it on down the parking area away from the house. I need to do some more shovel work along the side of the gravel area where the blade on the back of a tractor left a wall three inches high that holds the water. I will lower the wall to ground level and fill a place where the water puddles with the gravel. Already have in one place. This will help the water flow on into the woods and not gather into a lake.
I learned a great deal the day I stood on the deck in a rainstorm watching the flow of the water. Carpenters will be here this coming week, I'll be going up there every day. I'll carry a bucket load of leaves and pine needles from my walkway each trip. All I have to do at the other end is dump it. By end of summer some of the seeds will sprout and give the berms added strength. Next year they'll be about like speed bumps, just enough rise to redirect the water, not enough to trip over. Several clusters of day lilies and Dutch irises over the next few years will multiply into tremendous clusters to slow, stop and redirect water flow. They will hold the water to their roots, too, for times the rain is scarce. The Dutch irises transplanted a couple weeks ago are healthy and stand up straight. The mountain laurel transplanted is doing well. May transplant another. I found a place in the nearby woods where small mountain laurel are popping up out of the ground. It's easier to get all their roots when they're small and they're quicker to establish themselves in their new ground. I aim for the berm to work the first year redirecting the water and better every year thereafter.
photos by tj worthington