Damned silt…

If we’re going to have a wet monsoon this will be the story of my life for a couple of months…


The very first good storm that passed over the Lair caused both my drainage ditches to fill with silt. The ditch in front of the cabin is kind of a pain in the ass year-round for obvious reasons, and as long as the water running off from the gully turns right instead of fanning out over the yard and turning it into a sea of mud I’m inclined to let the damned thing fill in – and so far the ditch is still sufficient for that. But…


…the silt rose to the point where it was clogging my porch downspout drainage pipe…


…upon which I worked very hard and of which I am very proud…

And that’s just not acceptable. So…


Digga we musta.

Unfortunately, unlike the rear drainage ditch where I can just pile the spoil beside the ditch to make the berms higher and stronger, I have to wheelbarrow all this heavy wet silt somewhere else out of the way. This makes the job slower and harder and I’m a gimpy old man who is much nimbler at finding excuses to cease digging that at actual digging. So I did the bare minimum this sweaty early morning session…


Sprayed the mud out of the pipe…


…and called it good for now.

I was much more concerned about what was going on with my rear drainage ditch…


Because that drains the much larger and more dangerous gully directly behind the Lair.


I originally deepened and straightened the gully run-off channel into a bermed ditch because it was inclined to overflow and send the water right where my cabin now is. The ditch is my Plan A defense against that. It has never failed – and over the 11 years since I started digging, the berm (Plan B) has become formidable enough that it probably never will. But the ditch itself is frequently overwhelmed and packed with ash from two big frickin’ deposits which are the bane of my existence during wet monsoons. You can see one of them in that photo.

A secondary but also serious problem with the ditch filling with ash is my kitchen run-off pipe…


…which can become plugged with wet ash if the level in the ditch channel gets too high. Over the years I’ve played with ways of contouring the berm to recess the pipe so that the silt flow bypasses it, and that usually works. But it still causes a sufficiently serious problem when it doesn’t work that the first thing I always do after a bad storm is rush out with a hoe and check that grey water pipe.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to Damned silt…

  1. Ben says:

    If you put a culvert in back, the silt in the runoff would just fill it, so you seem to have already done everything worth doing.

    But in front, it seems to me that if you extended that black pipe you would have that much less trench to keep digging out. No?

  2. Joel says:

    You’d think so but in fact I really do need to clean out the ditch. It’s just about full enough not to be able to do its job anymore.

  3. Beans says:

    Anyone out there have a back hoe you can borrow? Dig deep and wide, then build elevated platforms everywhere.

  4. Alvin says:

    Beans beat me to it – backhoe. Serious backhoe work, meaning “wider (some) and deeper (a lot). Followed by filling the new ditch with medium (4-6”) rock – plenty of space around the rocks for drainage – then putting a “runoff cover” (something that won’t rot, so that leaves out wood) about 5-6″ down and covering with soil. With some luck, monsoon water runs will just go over the top.

    Maybe.

  5. My understanding from your previous entries is that your local groundwater is pretty much entirely comprised of dissolved rock and is useless for virtually all applications. Would you not want to retain and use the softer rainwater instead of flushing out down the gully?

  6. Joel says:

    I’ve said many times in the past, I could easily set up a couple of rain barrels. But I’ve seen what grows in them: I’d hate to have to drink out of one.

  7. Mike says:

    Since this is a reoccurring problem, a trench digger from Lee Valley may be the answer.

    https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/garden/garden-care/cultivators/51123-trench-digger?item=PG250

To the stake with the heretic!